Hey again everyone, how was your weekend? We had a great trip out to the Saga and Fukuoka border area on one of my favorite looping hikes, the Mt. Ihara～Raizan trail. This trail is known for its tunnels of beautiful of Mitsuba Azaleas blossoms that surround the path. But not this time as the cold spring we are having has put off the season by a couple weeks, but even without the blossoms it`s still a great hike!
When I looked at the weather report the night before it said that it was going to be sunny with no chance of rain, so boy was I surprised to wake up to really cloudy skies and it even started to rain when we got close to the start of the hike which made us all think “Uh-Oh!”
Luckily the rain was over quickly and as we got close to the top of Ihara the clouds lifted a bit and the sun started to peek though making for a really great day and a really great view! After a short photo break at the top of Mt. Ihara we headed off for the top of Raizan.
The trail from Ihara to Raizan is actually a section of a much longer trail runs all the way from Kiyama to Raizan and apparently even further to the Karatsu area. Let`s do that trip someday soon! Anyway, the hike between the two mountains was wonderful with views of both Fukuoka and Saga peaking though the unleaven trees. Unfortunately just as I expected the azaleas weren`t quite blooming yet but some of the buds were doing their best to push through.
We reached the top of Raizan with tired legs and hungry bellys ready for a yummy lunch. Luckily todays lunch was nabe because with the movement of the clouds the warm temperature would drop suddenly giving us a chill. After lunch it was a quick descent down to the road where we found some Sakura still in bloom as we made our way back to the truck.
What are your plans for Golden week? We have a camp tour running to Kunimi Dake in Kumamoto on the 4th and 5th. If you`re looking for a little escape from the city drop me an email as there are still a few spots open!
Until next time…
Into the land of the Yamabushi
Last Wednesday we had a rare weekday trip deep into the mountains of Fukuoka prefecture. Our destination was Mt. Hiko, the tallest mountain in Fukuoka, and also an area with a mystical past. Hiko San and the surrounding area was used by the ancient Yamabushi warriors as a training ground.
The stone staircase at the beginning of the hike is bordered with houses and training grounds dating back hundreds of years culminating with beautiful shrine at the top. The weather today was just as mystical with clouds and fog looming creating a wonderfully spooky mood.
Our route today took us straight up the trail to the top where we stopped for a yummy lunch and a visit to the summit shrine. Our next objective was to visit “Oni Sugi”, the oldest cedar tree in Fukuoka.
To get there we had to scramble down the western face of Minami Dake, using chains and our butts we slowly made our way down, past “Zai moku seki”, Volcanic rock that looks like logs of wood sticking out of the ground.
Sipping the delicious new instant Starbucks coffee and eating snacks we took a break under the branches of the cedar monolith. Continuing on our looping course we headed to Tamaya Shrine, another mystical treasure of the Hiko San area, the temple is built right into the face of the cliff!
After making our way back to the van we finished off a great day with my favorite, Hita Gyoza! Check back soon for my next blog about our recent trip to Ihara and Raisan and don`t forget that there is still room on our Golden Week camping trip to Kunimidake on the 4th and 5th.
Hamaguri Dake Hike
Hey everyone, did you all have a great weekend? We sure did, Saturday we had a day hike to Hamaguri Dake near Seifuri, and then on Sunday we headed out to Kunisaki for a Rescue dog event. I`ll post on the event later in the week but for this blog I`ll turn over the reigns to Dave who prepared a nice post about our trip to the mountains. Enjoy....
Thanks again Amarok for a great day out - It feels like summer is here!
Hamaguri is a nice and easy hike with a fantastic view of Fukuoka and Saga.
We had a nice and fun-filled hike up as Mana was extra-energetic today.
Then a fantastic and filling lunch of Chanpon - which was even better than that which
I had had the previous day in Nagasaki! Followed by the new Starbuck instant coffee spiked with brandy and waffles made by Miho.
Then a nice leisurely stroll back to the van where the temperature was just perfect.
Thanks to Masa, Miho, Yuki, and Takashi for a fun day.
Hope to see you soon, Dave.
Another Great Day In Kumamoto
Last Saturday we headed back down to Hitoyoshi for more training. Once again Ryoma was practicing his high flying act, always a treat to watch. Mana and I also worked on a bit of protection training before working again on search training.
This week we built upon the human hair training we started last time and made the search problem more difficult by hanging one bag of hair in a tree and putting another under the road in a culvert. The first time around was a little difficult but after watching Kana Senpai work her magic we tried again with solid alerts on both.
We also practice a live search with Machan hiding under a small bridge, even in the heat Mana had no problem finding her. Afterward some of us also worked on some trailing work too. It was another grat day of search work even though I came home with a little sunburn!
Our next mountain adventure will be held this weekend on the 17th (Sat), as we head back to Mt. Hamaguri and hopefully a blooming Mountain Cherry forest for a second round of hanami!
Until next time, happy trails.
Isohiyodori, the Blue Rockthrush
Hey everyone I just wanted to write a quick note about a cute little friend we made on our recent trip to Yakushima. On the last day we did a bit of sightseeing and on our way around the island we stopped at Inakahama, a famous place for the breeding of sea turtles.
While we were there we could hear a very melodious bird call. Upon closer exploration we discovered a breeding colony of Isohiyodori or Blue Rockthrush ,( Monticola solitaries). This beautiful blue bird is about the size of a starling and usually inhabits rocky seashores nesting in cliffs but can also sometimes be found in the city. The slate blue plumage is unique to the male with the female being dark brown in colour. Another tidbit of trivia is that this bird is actually the National bird of the island nation of Malta.
So the next time you`re out exploring a rocky beach area, keep your eye out for this little gem.
A day in Hitoyoshi
Hey everyone, how was your Sunday? We headed down to Hitoyoshi in Kumamoto prefecture for some Search and Rescue Dog Training under the helpful eye of Kaida Sensei. We were joined there with the Sakamoto family from Kagoshima who also took part with Ryoma the super Border Collie and Cha Cha the Shepherd.
Today we worked on protection work and building drive or the desire to work. This year Mana and I are working toward the next level of Rescue testing called the SOCT test which is more difficult than the standard rescue dog test. This test conducted over 2 days and is made up of a 3 hour Mountain Search, an urban search for an elderly person, and a cadaver search where Mana has to search for a sample of Human hair to simulated a deceased person.
Today was Mana`s first time to train with the Hair samples and she did REALLY great! After letting her get used to the new Training aids (Scent bags of Human Hair) the bags were hidden in both the Disaster and Area search areas.
There was a good wind blowing so she picked up the scent really quickly and led me to where the bags were located. All in all a really good training day, Good job girl!!
Hey everyone! We had a great day on this beautiful sunny Saturday as we travelled to the Nogata area, and the forests around Fukuchiyama. This time we didn`t go to the top as our destination today was the beautiful “Edohigan” Sakura tree located near the Shiraito Waterfall.
It was a quick stroll up the path and as we made the final scramble up through some rocky scree the Cherry tree appeared though the trees. It was a fantastic sight with still quite a few blossoms even with the season winding down.
After relaxing around the tree taking it easy enjoying sweets and drinks we came back down feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready for our next adventure.
How was your weekend?
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