|Ha! Think you can kill me, crazy mountain storm with super powerful winds? I laugh in the face of, uh, my own very messy death. Um. Yeah.|
|The fancy new gear! I may have developed a slight addiction to outdoor stores and all their shiny outdoor goods.|
The first day involved hiking past Mt. Asahidake through some alpine meadows which eventually led to a nice little natural hot spring beside the trail. We took the opportunity to soak our feet before beginning the ascent of the first peak, Mt. Nakadake. From here we could look down into an amazing caldera, surrounded by many of the peaks that we would cross later on our trip. The soil of the caldera was an array of whites, reds and blacks from the volcanic minerals.
|Looking down from Mt. Nakadake into the caldera.|
|Yep, we hiked 5+ hours in a storm, ate granola in the mud for lunch, voluntarily. This what I do on vacation people, clearly I was dropped as a child.|
|The top of Mt. Kurodake, where all our hiking was paid off with a great foggy view of... fog.|
Day 2 started with a lovely view of the gorge and surrounding mountains as we rode the gondola, and then a very hot hour and a half trek straight up to the peak of Kurodake. This time the weather was great and we could take in all of the amazing scenery we missed on the first day.
|Catching the gondola out of the Sounkyo Gorge to Mt. Kurodake.|
|The stunning view from Mt. Kurodake when you can actually see things.|
|On top of Mt. Hokkaidake, eating lunch with a bunch of ojiisan on Day 2.|
|Looks like The Sound of Music; is actually the emergency hut at Hakuundake.|
|The lovely and not at all vertigo-inducing cliff we walked along on Day 2.|
Day 3 we had been warned would be rainy, so we had a bit of a debate over whether to spend a day hiding in the tent or try to escape the mountains via our final destination, the onsen town of Tenninkyo. We'd both been uncomfortably cold and unable to sleep the night before, so the idea of a night on the mountain in a storm didn't sound appealing. We decided to pack up and head out.
Unfortunately, just as we made it to the peak of the first mountain, the mild rain turned into a nasty storm with incredibly strong winds. By that point turning back didn't seem like a viable option, and according to the map the next peak was smaller and from there it was all downhill to Tenninkyo. What the map didn't show was how close our trail came to some steep cliffs, and as we tried to cross them the wind got bad enough that we ran behind some trees to take shelter. When it died down a bit, we climbed the final peak as fast as we could and began our descent.
|I don't know what's more horrifying, the nightmare that was Day 3 or the fact that I had to endure it in a bright blue Smurf Suit.|
Luckily we were saved by an incredibly nice old man at a hotel, who shared our situation with an equally kind young couple, and they offered to give us a ride-- despite us looking like we'd just crawled Apocalypse Now style out of a swamp. Three hours of hiding out by an abandoned hotel later, we got our bus and made the long journey back to Sapporo where our lovely hotel room waited.
|Bruised and broken by the mountain, hiding outside an abandoned hotel, we still found time for a cuppa.|
|We did it!! :D|
|The Purple Badge of Courage.|