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Last snowshoe trip of the season?

10:05 a.m. on March 17, 2013 (EDT)
16 reviewer rep
32 forum posts

Recently back from an overnight trip to the Yatsugatake Mts. in Nagano, Japan. It's starting to warm up quite a bit, so the only way to find good snowshoeing is to go higher up! This was my highest altitude trip since arriving in Japan six months ago--spent the night in a hut at 8000ft and topped out at about 8300ft.


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Warm and sunny at the trailhead, only patchy snow for the first hour or so.


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Once I hit the shade of the evergreens, the snow started to get deeper. Finally time to put on the snowshoes!


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Getting up fairly high now; the trees are shorter and the low branches will leave you with a mouthful of spruce needles if you're not careful! Hard not to be distracted by the views..


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Above treeline. Off with the snowshoes and time for boulder hopping.


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Made it to the summit plateau..great to have such clear views of the other summits. Most of these require more technical climbing, so I'm sticking with my snowshoe loop.

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Close-ups of the surrounding peaks.


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Balanced the camera on a rock and got a shot at the summit post.


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Looking down at the blue-roofed hut, my goal for the day.


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This is the main hut, buried in snow and closed for winter. It's staffed in the summer and you can stay the night (+2 meals) for about $60-70. Or the other option:

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The free winter hut, my home for the night. Thought I might get the hut to myself, but a climber showed up just before dark with a massive pack and a lot of clanky things... Oh well, the more the merrier.


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Inside of the hut the next moring. They even had free bedding (well there was a donation jar nearby so I left a few bucks).
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Cloudy start to the second day.

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Great trail through this area, snow was already packed so the walking was easy.


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Looking back at the mountain I hiked up on the first day.


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Sun finally started to break through the clouds mid-morning.


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Clouding over again when I reach my goal for day 2. Still, I was able to get some good shots off in the distance.


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I lingered quite a while snapping photos and thinking about plans for spring/summer hikes...


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Stopped for a break just before I made it back to the trailhead and noticed these claw marks on a spruce tree. The bears are awake it seems...

 

8:34 p.m. on March 17, 2013 (EDT)
59 reviewer rep
270 forum posts

Wow, those are Serious Mountain Vistas, beautiful, thanks for posting them.

That looks like bears all right. What kind of bears live there?

9:27 p.m. on March 17, 2013 (EDT)
16 reviewer rep
32 forum posts

Thanks for the comments. On the main island (Honshu) and southward we've got small-ish black bears. But the colder northern island of Hokkaido surprisingly has a brown bear population. Probably related to those in Siberia.

6:36 a.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
488 reviewer rep
1,106 forum posts

Great report bigup! Nice shots....

You never know about the last snowshoe of the season though. The biggest snow of my lifetime (in this area) happened in March.

 

8:22 a.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
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606 forum posts

Great report! Yea I agree with patman, we could get 14 inches of snow tonight. It was fifty for several days last week, spring in new england is never predictable.

8:53 a.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
488 reviewer rep
1,106 forum posts

After another look I need to upgrade my superlative: your pictures are fantastic!

If you are willing to tell: what is a North Carolina boy doing in Japan going on all these cool backpacking adventures? :)

11:01 p.m. on March 18, 2013 (EDT)
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32 forum posts

Thanks all.

Patman: Sometimes I wonder how I got here myself! I majored in Japanese in college, worked here in the local government for a few years after graduation, then started grad school (in the US) in linguistics/Japanese. Now I'm here doing research for my dissertation. The first time I hiked in Japan was when I was an undergrad, and I've probably hiked more miles here than in the US. Public transport makes the trails pretty accessible and there's a great hiking/outdoor culture here.

9:14 p.m. on March 22, 2013 (EDT)
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430 forum posts

The photos are excellent, and are as close to Japan Mts as i will ever see... Thanks. Bill aka Mac

April 18, 2014
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