Prior to this trip to Hokkaido I was told time and time again that the end of June was the best time to visit and that there is no rainy season there. That may be true but it certainly doesn’t mean that there is no rain! Far from it, as it rained on pretty much every day of our trip to Japan’s most northerly main island!
The rain was fairly relentless as we spent a few hours at Shikotsu-Toya National Park climbing Mount Tarumae and it didn’t take us too long at all to have some wonderful views looking back over the Lake Shikotsu with the mountains in the background.
A steep hike took us up amidst some beautiful scenery reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands and the reward at the top of the crater rim was the lava dome of the Tarumae volcano standing out like a black version of Ayers Rock in Australia.
In the wake of our 5.5 hour climb at Me-Akan-Dake two days earlier, this was quite a strain on my legs and it was a struggle at times battling against the aches and pains as well as the wind and rain.
The majority of other climbers only went as far as the peak seen above but we continued onwards to ascend another peak and take a different route back to the car. At one point we were on fairly flat territory and with a burst in energy we had a spring in our step and even broke into a run for some of the course due in part to always being in a race against time to finish and move on to our next destination.
Another steep climb took us to another summit which offered some great views looking back on the Tarumae volcano. We then descended via a route which was a little unorthodox at times but fairly undemanding and unlike the previous mountain in Akan this was good as we could actually see the end in sight for the majority of the decline.
We were pretty soaked (though not to the bone!) by the time we arrived back where we had started and took quick photo’s of a bear sign and had a look at the map to see where we had actually been! Ethan’s phone app was more detailed for showing the route and recorded the hike as being 6.9 kilometres long at an elevation of 437 metres.
A change of clothes was most welcome back at the car and then we drove on west to Lake Toya where we stopped at a service station (with a giant dinosaur outside it for some reason) in an area famed for its mushrooms. We knew that we had a big lamb dinner ahead of us at the ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) but needed something to tie us over till then so ¥100 mushroom miso soup and some tempura mushrooms did that job.
You can read ‘Hokkaido 2015 Pt IV: Lake Toya‘ here