Distance: 0 miles
Total Distance: 1928 miles

We woke early the next morning to the sound of rain pouring down outside the tent; in the hopes that it would ease off soon, we rolled over and went back to sleep.  It showed no signs of letting up though, so eventually we dressed and ate a leisurely breakfast.  Still hoping that the weather might clear up a bit (and feeling a bit tired after yesterday’s long uphill climb) we spent some time in the vestibule of the campground’s bathrooms–nice warm benches, with large windows so we could admire the views while staying dry.


Morning view from the tent


Warming up inside the campground bathroom

We only had one day to do some hiking in the area, so despite the unrelenting rain, we eventually decided to brave the weather and headed up the road to the local information center.  After getting a map of the area and looking through the small attached museum, we biked on to the ropeway station.  Despite the steep price, we decided to go ahead and get tickets for the ride up the mountain–we knew we would regret the opportunity to hike around the top of this mountain if we didn’t take it while we could!

The tram takes you up about 1,600 feet; the ride up was beautiful, and since we were the only people in the car we were able to see in every direction as we were whisked up towards the top of the mountain.  Once at the top, we almost talked ourselves out of walking around–the wind and rain were so strong that visibility was very limited, and the temperature was in the low 40’s.  We were both questioning the safety of wandering out on the hiking trails in unknown territory in this weather (wearing cycling shoes, no less), when out of the mist came a 60-something year old couple who were delighted to see us.  They encouraged us to go enjoy the spring flowers, so inspired by their example, we set out.  The first half kilometer was still covered with snow, so we had to walk carefully.  Even so, the sights were amazing:  small alpine lakes still partially covered with ice, patches of delicate wildflowers, and occasional groups of volcanic fumaroles.  We took a short break in an emergency shelter to warm up and have a snack, and then headed back to the ropeway station after about 90 minutes of hiking.  Although we both would have liked to go to the top of the mountain, we didn’t trust the weather, and the footing on the path would only get more treacherous as we gained altitude.  We got back to the campground in the late afternoon, very cold and wet but glad we had made the trip.


In the tram heading up the mountain


Getting ready to hike at the top of Daisetsuzan


Spring wildflowers


Alpine lake on the side of the trail


Mountain shelter at the fork leading to mountain summit


Trying to figure out how to get past the spring runoff on the trail

After returning to camp, we went for a bath at the youth hostel across the street.  The bath felt amazing after a day out in the cold weather, and we took advantage of the nearby lounge to relax a bit more and catch up on our journal.  We tried to eat at the restaurant there, but–as is typical for almost every youth hostel we have seen so far–the dining area was for guests only.  With our food supplies from Biei dwindling, we settled for buying some instant ramen bowls at the hostel store and then cooked a simple dinner back at the camp.  We went to sleep early that night, hoping that the weather would clear up overnight for our ride back down the mountain.


Cooking dinner back at the camp