Saturday, July 05, 2014

Hiking at Shikotsuko and Toyako

Today's coffee... was a long time ago.

Today has been full of farming and cooking (of course those go together), and I realized as I was brainstorming for this week's post that I'm supposed to write a magazine article by Monday. Eek. I wasn't feeling particularly inspired to write either a blog post or a magazine article, but I'll do my best to write both.

That being said, I'm finally going to post hiking pictures. Hokkaido is a great place to go hiking. While we were on holiday a few weeks ago, we went on a whole bunch of hikes. 

The first hike was Eniwa Dake (Dake means peak, and it's pronounced dahkay.) It was shady for much of the way, with lots of wildflowers. Keith got rather eaten by bugs, but I was fine. It was rather strenuous for the first hike of the season... elevation gain of over 1000 meters.

The obligatory picture of the sign at the peak.
Who says you can't have shade at a sunny viewpoint? Why have I never thought of this before?
View over Shikotsuko (the "ko" at the end means lake)
Keith airing out his shirt... it was hot.
View from the peak
The peak. We couldn't actually go there, though, since it was dangerous, the sign said.
We named these "frog flowers."
When they actually bloom, they look like this.
Trillium flowers are actually rather common in Hokkaido.
There are brown ones too.
I was surprised and delighted to find wild sakura (cherry) blooming even into June!
Our second hike was Tarumaezan. It's an active volcano. Actually, so was Eniwa dake, but this one is a lot more obviously active. It wasn't a difficult hike, but very interesting!

Once again, the sign at the peak...
Backtracking a bit, this was on the way up. Shikotsuko is in the background; we're on the opposite side of the lake from Eniwa dake.
Made it to the top! That's a lava dome in the background.
We decided to go have a look at the lava dome. Very interesting... but we don't recommend it. Although we were following a marked path, we were chased out of the crater area by some guys wearing helmets and big backpacks. Apparently the lava dome likes to spew large rocks from time to time. If we had circled the crater in the opposite direction, we would have seen the "do not enter" signs...
Yep. Right next to the lava dome. Stinky steam all around.
The whole area was covered by beautiful rhododendrons--some sort of small mountain variety.
Here's a few of those rocks the lava dome spewed out.
From the other side, just before we got kicked out of the crater...
The next day we moved on to Toyako (once again "ko" means lake), and hiked around the rim of another volcano, Usuzan. We cannot figure out why there is a resort at the foot of a volcano that erupts every 25 years or so. Well, we sort of can. There's ONSEN. But still. We took the ropeway up the mountain (I think we call those aerial trams in America), but you can hike it.

Next to Usuzan is Showa Shinzan (that means Showa period new mountain). It grew up between 1943 and 1945. Crazy. (Seriously, why is there a resort here? And a tram up a volcano??)
Volcano on left, top of tram on right. Toyako is in the background.
Usuzan crater
There are so many small peaks as part of Usuzan (from old eruptions) that I can't remember which one is which. Yoteizan is in the background.
Yoteizan. Sometimes I'm amazed how close things are together in Hokkaido.
From Usuzan we could see out over the beautiful Hokkaido coastline.
There were lots of stairs.
Showa Shinzan
Toyako, with several islands in the middle. Did I mention that Shikotsuko and Toyako are both caldera lakes?
The next day we headed over to those islands in the middle of the lake. The largest is called Oshima. That means "large island." Very descriptive. We walked across the island then back along the shore.

We had to ride this boat over to the island. Really, bubble-era Japan, what were you thinking?
Yep. Here I am on the silly castle boat. The islands are in the background.
We had a nice view of Showa Shinzan from the boat.
By the way, we were staying in one of these houses. OMF colleagues, can you figure out which one?
Once again, we had a nice view of Yoteizan.
On the island, there was lots of this very interesting Mamushisou (viper grass). I love green flowers... I wanted to bring some home with me...
Wild azaleas grew here and there.
Not sure what kind of flower this is, but check out that spider!
Almost to the other side!
Yoteizan peeking through the clouds...
Of course we brought our picnic tea set. We didn't even try to do things "properly," as it was starting to rain. Oh well.

Last, we went on a walk to see some craters and ruins from the most recent eruption.

Guess what? This crater formed on my 19th birthday. Happy birthday to me??
Let us know if you want other hiking recommendations! Hokkaido is awesome.

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