August 28th. The day before we’d climbed the up through the “Big Snow Valley” to the top of Mt. Shirouma. After a night at the lodge, we were back up at the summit, around 4:50 AM, I think, to see a cloudy pastel-colored day dawn.
5:15 AM. The skies brightening–and time to look down the sandy, rocky ridge we were going to walk on our own way to the Big Hakuba Lake . . . and then on down from the mountains.
Lots of lovely views at your back, so be sure to stop frequently to peer over your shoulder.
And lots of rocks along the trail—sometimes it’s necessary to scramble across them.
This area is famous for raicho—grouse—and we saw other hikers scouring the slopes for the birds, but we neither saw one ourselves, nor saw anyone who’d spotted one.
And lots to see looking forward. The day before had been a clear, clear, blue blue day, and now it was clouds and pastel—and that was just fine. Very, very lovely.
We got to Mikuni at 5:50, a point where three prefectures come together, Nagano, Toyama, and Niigata.
One more look back . . .
. . . and then on toward the beautiful backlit, cloudy sky–and on towards Mt. Korenge.
We reached Korenge at around 6:35. From here, you get your first view of the lake.
By the way, this route down from the mountain is a little long, but, for this part of the country, it is a very easy (not so much up and down) walk.
The walk yesterday started at 1250 m and went up to 2932, but today it was only going to go down to 1700. Those 450 fewer m in descent make a huge difference. How do you get down from 1700? The only way down is two gondola rides. The first time ever for us to end a hike with a ride in the sky.
The closer you get to the lake, gradually going down, the more green there is. Lots of the scrubby hemlock firs, and more and more flowers.
Close to the lake and around the lake, you can see the famous chinguruma flowers.
At first you might think that these are strange feathery petals, but actually these are just the seeds that remain after the petals have fallen.
The petals are white—and present quite a different face. We were there at just the right time that we could see both faces.
We got the lake at 7:55 and stopped for breakfast. Then around to the other side (no, those aren’t sand traps, they’re bits of remaining snow), up through the hemlock firs a bit and then down toward the gondola station.
The ragged cliffs of Shakushi are there on your right much of the way.
Much of the way.
And then you come to this day’s snow valley. The day before, though, we walked up the snow for about an hour. This day, we only walked across the snow for about three minutes.
The descent gets steeper from here. For a while you can enjoy the flowers growing so beautifully by the snow.
After that, it’s flowers and rocky trail for a good while.
And lots of miyamakinbai.
And flowers you’ve maybe never seen before.
And some you have. Down to the gondolas at 10:55.