A Rainy but fun day in the Fukuoka Mountains
Last weekend we headed out for a hike to Mt. Ihara. We knew that the weather called for rain but our adventurous spirit`s got the better of us and we headed out despite the forecast.
We reached the trailhead with no problem and the rain was relatively light which made for a kinda mystical feeling as we walked through the fog laced stands of trees.
The original plan was to travel the whole loop going from Mt. Ihara on to Mt. Raizan as well, but from noon the weather was supposed to worsen so we decided to only go as far as Ihara. Due to the shorter route we decided to do a bit of exploring around Ihara so we headed down the Fukuoka side of the mountain to check out the huge pillars of Quartz that is characteristic to this area.
Due to weathering the rocks look an unremarkable brown color but if you scuff off the brown the beautiful white the quartz is revealed, and some of these rocks are huge!
After exploring I setup the tarp to give us a bit of protection from the rain while we had nice relaxing lunch before heading back down to finish of a really fun day. On the way back we also came along a couple of cute critters, a mountain crab and also a Japanese fire belly newt or アカハライモリ in Japanese, but don’t try to eat him because they are poisonous!
Check back in another couple days for the report from our latest adventure in the rain, our trip to Bogatsuru in Oita.
Talk to you soon!
A great day in Oita
I know that a week has past from this trip but today I wanted to talk about a great trip we had to Mt. Yufu or “Yufudake” last Sunday.
The weather was awesome, with a beautiful blue sky and a nice cool autumn breeze made for a perfect day. This time we decided to climb up from the back side of Yufudake between Tsurumidake.
This route takes you a beautiful multi coloured forest before angling up to take you to the eastern peak. We took a break at the eastern summit to soak up the beautiful scenery before heading to the main summit where we found a somewhat sheltered spot out of the wind to break for a yummy Chicken Fajita lunch.
After completing the loop around the summits we took a short coffee break before heading back down. I’m not sure if it’s the left over power we received from our recent trip to Yakushima but on the way down we heard and saw quite a few deer including a big bugling male to put a magnificent finish to a wonderful day.
Check back in a few days when I’ll be writing about yesterday’s trip to Mt. Ihara!
Forest Elders, High Peaks, and Friendly Deer
During the long weekend from Oct 8th to the 10th we headed off to one of my most favorite places in Japan to do a trek that a few of us have been wanting to do for some time. We headed to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site of Yakushima. Click here to read more on Yakushima from the UNESCO homepage .
I’ve been there a number of times and done a fair amount of hiking on the island but one hike I’ve been really wanting to do is the traverse from the Yodogawa trailhead up and over Mt. Miyanoura, (the tallest mountain in Southern Japan) down past the Jomon Cedar (one of the oldest living trees in the world) and then exiting from the Shiratani Unsuikyo Trailhead.
On this trip as we would be exiting from a different trailhead we left the truck on Kyushu and took the Jetfoil over to Yakushima where we met up with a very nice and knowledgeable taxi driver who drove us up to the Yodogawa Trailhead and the start of our adventure.
It was just quick jaunt until we hit the Yodogawa hut where we had originally planned to stay but because it was only 40 minutes up the trail we decided to push on and camped up at the “Hananoeigo” highland marsh, another one of Yakushima’s many treasures with deer and families of Monkeys all around.
Once camp was setup and our tummy’s were full we sat around thinking of what we should do next and then a great idea came along…..NIGHT HIKE!!!
Near our campsite is Mt. Kuromi, one of Kyushu’s top 100 mountains and from the top an outstanding view of the island and with the clear skies the sunset and the stars that followed were just beautiful. Not many people think about hiking at night but it is a TON of fun!!
The next day was our longest hump so we woke up at 430 to get a good jump on the day and easily make it to the next campsite well before nightfall. We made such good time that after resting at the top of Kyushu for a while we decided to hike up the next tallest mountain, Mt. Nakata, a little further along the trail.
From the top you could look all the way down and see Nakatahama, or Nakata beach which is the largest breeding beach in the North Pacific for the endangered Loggerhead Sea Turtle. The surrounding rock formations reminded us a lot of the Okue area of Miyazaki with the huge vertical slabs of granite.
After working our way down we hiked back into the characteristic Yakushima forest and along with that came cloudy skies and the mist which makes the whole scene magical. Luckily it didn’t rain as is typical for the wettest place in Japan and we reached the Shintakatsuka Hut around 4pm, just in time to utilize the remaining daylight to setup our sleeping bags and get dinner on with friends we made along the way.
The next day, once again started at around 4:00 with the inside of the hut coming alive with the sounds of hikers getting ready for the next adventure. We took our time and had a relaxing morning as we headed off towards Jomon at around 6:00. We reached to Monolithic tree a little over an hour later.
Usually the tree is surrounded with picture taking hoards of people all jostling to get the perfect shot but because we got there first thing in the morning we could take as many pictures from whatever angle we wanted as apart from our team there were only 3 other visitors.
After Jomon we worked our way down to Wilsons stump, the huge hollowed out cedar stump which when looked at from just the right angle you are rewarded with a heart-shaped surprise. After stopping for pictures we continued on our way first to the “Toroko Michi” or the small rail line which is also the lower half of the trail to Jomon.
We followed this down about half way before heading up one last time, this time it was to Tsuji pass to link up with the Shiratani Unsuikyo trail going past the Princess Mononoke forest and down through some of the most beautiful forests you could ever think of and finally reaching the trailhead with our cab driver waiting with delicious Guava for us, picked for his own backyard!
Like I said earlier, I have been to Yakushima many times but this was probably the best time so far. I have really wanted to do this traverse for a long time and to finally get to do it was a real treat!!
Why not join us on our next trip there? It’ll be a trip you’ll never forget!!!
A bunch of reports all wrapped up into one!
Sorry for the huge breaks between blogs everyone! It’s been a CRAZY few weeks with a bunch of day trips and camping trips all intertwining in a short period of time!
In a nutshell, here`s what you missed; a really great day hike along the Mt. Ihara and Mt. Raizan traverse just before heading off to the absolutely beautiful Shimanto River on Shikoku followed by a great time at this years’ “True Camp” event held in Kuju, and lastly a wonderful kayak camp to the “Mujinto” in Sasebo finishing off yesterday! And a abosolutely wonderful trip to Yakushima last weekend where we traversed almost half of the island!! “That’s the next blog to come!”
It may sound like I’m complaining but absolutely the opposite I’ve been having an awesome time and don’t want it to stop!!
Anyway back to the report;
Mt Ihara～Mt Raisan Sept 22nd
This is one of my favourite local hikes and the weather for this trip was great, although when the clouds passed in front of the sun you could feel the coming autumn chill in the wind.
The air was clear and once we reached the top and were walking along the ridgeline you caught really beautiful glimpses of Fukuoka on the right and of Saga on the left.
Shimanto River Camp Sept 23rd ～25th
After coming back from hiking up Raizan I met up with Matsumoto San from Southern Works and we headed by ferry for a wonderful weekend of camping and kayaking along the Kuroson River. Our original plan was to kayak down the Shimanto but because of the recent typhoon that passed by just days before the water level was high enough that we could kayak down the Kuroson River, a beautiful tributary that is usually too low to paddle down.
After dinner and a campfire the night sky was so clear you could even see the milky way, these pics are best seen with the lights off!
It was a great few days with a really wonderful family and their 3 kids were a ton of fun!! I took a lot of video and am going to try my hand at some easy video editing and once it`s done I`ll put it on Youtube.
True Camp 2011, Oct 2nd ～3rd
Had another great time at this years` True Camp Event. The event stage had changed from Misato in Kumamoto to the Kuju Highlands which for me, as the hiking guide, was awesome! On the Saturday we tried our first night hike which was really cool, part way through we turned off all of our headlamps to just soak up the atmosphere and the haunting deer call from deep in the forest really helped with that!
The next day after a bit of morning yoga I guided a group up to the western peak of Mt. Mimata which is the big mountain with 3 summits, that you see when you stop at Chojobaru in the Kuju Highlands.
In the morning there were low lying clouds so I wasn`t sure if we would be able to see anything from the top but by the time we got there the clouds had lifted a bit giving us a really nice view.
Sasebo Kayak Camp Oct 5th ～6th
A mid week camping trip a really cool way to break up a hectic work week! I picked up a wonderful Austrian couple at Hakata station Wednesday morning and we headed off to Sasebo for kayaking. Wednesday was cloudy with scattered showers to keep us nice and cool for the trip out but by the time we reached the campsite the rain had lifted and by the time we finished dinner we started to see stars coming out.
The next morning we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise and after that a big blue sky covered us as we around a few islands as we slowly made our way back.
Well there`s the quick version of a lot of fun times. If you want to hear more details feel free to stop by the shop for a chat next week. Now I have to head off to clean up from all this fun!!
Stay tuned for the yakushima blog, I promise it will come sooner than this one ok!!
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