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Mt. Dainichi

Dainichi (left) and Okudainichi (right) and the Toyama Bay behind from Mt. Jodo. Taken 9.24.2011

Raicho-sawa Campgrounds. Taken 9.24.2011

Heading out to Dainichi in the mist. Taken 9.23.2011

Walking with the raichos. They all hang out around Mt. Okudanichi, where there's less people than the touristy Murodo Bus Terminal. Taken 9.23.2011

I started my morning parking my car at Tateyama Station and hitching a bus with my pack up to Shomyo Falls. September in Japan was still warm and we had a good weather forecast for the weekend ahead for trekking up Mt. Dainichi.

The trailhead to Mt. Dainichi and Okudainichi are off the main paved path that visitors walk to view Shomyo Falls, but are easily overlooked as people who often go up to Shomyo either do not intend to do any hiking, or head up to Tateyama through the shorter but steeper Hachirozaka trail before it merges with the scenic, leisure route through Midagahara.

After entering the trail to Mt. Dainichi, it seemed like another standard trail in Japan: it starts in heavy brush and is suddenly steep - putting those stairmaster skills to use early on. After getting through the tree line and a little over 5km into the trail, I arrived at the Dainichi Hut which is located at the fork between the two peaks. The clouds had come in and obscured the bare peak, which would have provided a beautiful view of the Toyama Bay that afternoon. The clouds above decided to coat the tops of the northern alps with a bit of snow around the time I reached Okudainichi. At this point, I still had about two hours on the trail until I arrived at Raichosawa to camp for the night. 

From the ridge, it was a descent to the Raichosawa, one of a few places in the alps where hikers are permitted to set up tents. The snow was coming down in my face enough to be a bother, but not enough to make the descent into the valley slippery. Of course the clouds parted to beautiful blue skies shorty upon making it to camp.

The night was cold, and the next morning ice had formed and coated the grounds. After getting my pack together in the late morning, it was a trip up to Mt. Tate, the top of northern alps and a loop above the caldera under blue skies before descending back down to Tateyama Station.

Mt. Okudainichi Taken 9.23.2011

Group making their way down to Raicho-sawa Campground. Taken 9.23.2011

Cold night. Taken 9.24.2011

Broken puddles on the trail. Taken 9.24.2011

A day after the snow. Jikogudani hydrothermal vents. Sensors placed in the ground send off alert horns on the trail when the place starts spewing out high levels of gas to warn hikers to get the hell out of the area and up to higher ground. Taken 9.24.2011

The view of Mt. Tate from Mt. Jodo. The building in the valley is the Ichinokoshi emergency hut. Taken 9.24.2011

Looking back at Mt. Dainichi, Okudai and the caldera. Taken 9.24.2011