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Written by: William Habington
Date: 2012/09/21

 

Even at ground level, the long spell of hot summer weather is gradually starting to give way to cooler temperatures.  And in Kamikochi, where cool temperatures are very much the norm, jackets and fleeces are becoming the prefered garb of visitors, especially those venturing up into the mountain paths.  I myself did a three say tour of the Hotaka Range over the long weekend and had a blast.  With so many people taking advantage of the three day holiday and superb weather, there was a festival-like atmosphere up in Karasawa, complete with tent cities and a cast of hundreds (or more likely thousands?).

 

The Hotaka Range as seen from the Karasawa Hyutte

 

 

As might be expected on a long weekend, Kamikochi was well visited on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.  People from all over Japan as well as decent number of international visitors packed into lodges all around the park.  For the most part, we were blessed with great weather.  The skies were clear and there wasn't any significant rainfall.

 

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Here and there, fallen leaves are becoming a more common sight with some trees showing hints of autumn colour. 

 

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This was even more true up top, in the Karasawa Col, where much of the vegitation lining the hills has turned a yellowish hue.  Elsewhere vibrant traces of red and orange can also be seen.

 

 

 

For the keen-eyed observer, there are also many signs of seasonal changes in the local plantlife, such as spindle trees showing off their first buds and the Guelder Rose bushes bearing fruit in the form of distinctive red berries.

 

カントウマユミカンボク

 

As promised in last week's blog, here are a few choice shots of my trip up to the Hotaka Range.  My friend Tammy and I met up with two of our hiking buddies, Jean and his wife Yuko, for a three day trek that would take us from Kappa Bridge to the peak of Japan's third highest mountain, Oku Hodaka.  As mentioned above, we enjoyed mostly good weather, with the skies clouding over a bit on the first day.  Nevertheless, by the time we reached Karasawa, we were ready to put our collective feet up and crack some beers for good measure.  What followed in the next two days will provide the subject of an upcoming article here on the SHK site.

 

Sunrise on the second day of our trip.  (Thanks to Tammy Crichton for the photo).

 

Hiking up to Kita-Ho with Tammy and Yuko (L) and a formidable bit of scenery we passed on the way up (R).

 

Accomodations:  We passed some people tenting under the spledid blue skies on the way up to the peak of Kita-Ho,

and stopped on the patio of the Kitahodaka Lodge (just a few meters beneath the peak) for a short break.

 

Hiking the ridge connecting Kita-Ho with Mount Karasawa--a little daunting for a beginner like myself.  (Photo: Tammy Crichton).

 

As you can see, there's a lot to be explored and discovered in all areas of Kamikochi.  Last weekend's excursion left me slightly exhausted, but also fueled my desire to see more of what the mountains have to offer up past the treeline.  If you decide to make the trip up, be sure to prepare accordingly.  Finding yourself ill-equipped for the weather or hiking/climbing conditions can ruin and otherwise brilliant experience.

 

If this entry was useful to you or you would like to relate a similar experience of your own, please drop us a message at http://www.facebook.com/kamikochi .  We look forward to hearing from you. 

 

Sources of Information:

 

Shirakabaso Website: http://shirakabaso.com

Nagano Park Guide Website: http://npg-alps.net