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Yadoya Guesthouse, Nakano, Tokyo
Navitime for Japan Travel and Japan train system
YAMAP : Japan's Social GPS Trekking Companion
Japanese Mountain Map 101
10 mountains in Japan
2007 and counting
Friday, May 27, 2016, 4:08 PM
1. Mount Io (硫黄岳), Southern Yatsugatake, Nagano.
Mount Io / 硫黄岳 (2,760m/9,060ft) was the first mountain in the list. Mount Io is a stratovolcano mountain. It is one of the many peaks of Southern Yatsugatake mountain range located at the border of Chino and Minamimaki Prefecture, Japan. Southern Yatsugatake has 8 peaks (Mount Aka being the highest) while Northern Yatsugatake has 10 peaks (Mount Tengu being the highest).
I hiked with two of my new friends whom I knew from social media (the one I mentioned earlier in previous post, remember?), Anas (but I like to call him Nanas more, so I'll use Nanas in this post) and Sota-san. Well, being the random me, I was the one who asked Sota-san to hike together. And later when Nanas knew about it, he wanted to join us as well. Initially, Sota-san planned to hike three mountains, Mount Aka (the highest peak of Southern Yatsugatake mountain range), Mount Yoko and Mount Io. But due to bad weather, we only managed to hike Mount Io (also due to my inability to endure cold weather).
THE TRUTH : I lost the data once I updated iOS (oh screw you Apple!). So, this is basically what I remember. (sobs)
Sota-san and Nanas picked me up at 2AM at the guesthouse I was staying in Nakano. It took about 3 hours (more or less) to reach Yatsugatake-Chūshin Kōgen Quasi-National Park by car. We stopped at highway pit stop in the middle of the journey for Subh prayer. It was my first time seeing Japanese highway pit stop, and trust me, I was jakun. Haha.
Public transport instruction :
From Shinjuku Station, take the rapid train to Chino Station.
From there, take a bus to Minotoguchi Trailhead (美濃戸口).
Shinjuku→Chino Station → Minotoguchi Trailhead
2 hours 25 mins. (¥6,070) → 45 mins. (¥900)
Though I hike often and have like 3 years of hiking experience, I still could not get rid of the nervous feeling. It always gets me whenever I hike mountains I have never been to. I didn't know what to expect, what to feel, what to think. The unfamiliarity made you losing your mind. I told myself to calm down, just follow the flow, keep walking and rest if you need to. And I also told them about my hiking pace so they can estimate theirs. Hmmm, just like I expected, first mountain is always the hardest (cough*worst*cough).
We started hiking around 5.30AM from Minodo trail head. I do not have much information on the trail though, because I lost the log in my phone and I did not buy or take any maps of Yatsugatake mountain as I could not find any (actually more like I forgot to go to the office). Haha. Sorry. But here is a few information on the trails we used, roughly.
Minodo-guchi / 美濃戸口 (trail head) - Minodo Sanso - Kitazawa - Akadake Kosen (hot spring mountain hut) - Iodake (Mount Io) - Gyoujyagoya - Minamizawa - Minodo
After few hours trekking, I started to feel the coldness as the elevation increased. Cold weather is my ultimate weakness. I can endure steep trail, hiking for hours (I once hiked for 16 hours straight with heavy load before *cough*V1*cough) or walking under scorching sun. But not cold weather. I could not think straight when I hiked Kinabalu last year as it was too cold to handle (because it was raining the day before and the temperature dropped). So when Sota-san said it was not that cold, I thought a thin Uniqlo windbreaker would do me justice. Sadly, no (cry). The weather in Japan mountain area is still cold even in summer. And I learnt my lesson, in a VERY HARD WAY.
I know I should never believe him. I mean, I should never believe in his ability to withstand cold weather. He used to it! He used to live in winter! Who am I kidding? Yes, myself. He just wore a windbreaker and he was fine with it which was very contrary to my condition. Haha. I suffered and struggled and mentally exhausted throughout the whole 4 hours trekking (usually it takes about 3 hours trekking but we stopped at Akadake Konsen for rest) because of the coldness (yes, you can laugh all you want). I felt guilty to them because I complained about the weather too much that I think they felt annoyed. So sorry guys... T.T
The wind started to blow even stronger when we nearly got to the peak. Thick mist was everywhere and it was pretty hard to see. After struggling with the strong wind, thick mist and coldness (oh god), we reached the peak few minutes later (around 9.50AM). Many hikers were there as they were stranded due to bad weather. All of us wanted to proceed to Mount Aka, but could not do so as it was quite dangerous because there were parts where you have to climb to get to the peak.
We decided to descend after taking few pictures. It was so cold, so windy, that I think our sweat starting to freeze. Really. Hontoni. Sota-san chose to use other trail for descend as it was more fun that way (according to him).
We had a rest at Gyoujyagoya (mountain hut) for awhile and gave ourselves a chance to enjoy the view of Yatsugatake mountain range. It was magnificent. I always love Japan for their advanced technology, cleanliness and manners. But I never knew that their mountains are also beautiful!
It was a sad thing that I broke my film camera on the first mountain (I accidentally dropped it, the advanced knob broke). So, no film pictures throughout the trip. Only the digital ones that I took using phone camera (cry even harder TT.TT).
We continued our journey to Minodo. We passed through river stream and mossy forest and stopped for awhile for some pictures. If you think Irau's mossy forest is pretty enough, well this one is even prettier. Hehe. After few hours trekking (probably about 2 hours more or less) we reached back to the Minodo trail head. Prayed and went back to Tokyo! Wohooo~
p/s : Sorry for the not so pretty writing style that might caused bleeding eyes and heartache. XD. If you want to see my experience in video format, go to instagram.com/izzarosli. Thank you for reading. Hope it helps. :)