From Shizuoka City, the closest place to find a snow hike is probably Aozasa Mountain. There you can be pretty sure that there will be a bit of snow, but that it won’t be so deep.
We’d walked Aozasa recently, though, so we decided to drive all the way up to Umegashima, where it’s a bit colder, and where you’re a little closer to the snow blowing in from Yamanashi. The snow’s usually a bit deeper along the trails above Umegashima.
We had hoped to enter the town of Umegashima, turn right, and drive another three or four minutes to the trailhead . . . but we had neither chains nor special snow tires, and we came to a slippery stop halfway up the climb into the town, maybe a hundred meters short of the right turn.
Well, it seemed like a good place to park.
So we walked to the trailhead and started into the woods at 8:53.
It wasn’t snowing, but with the wind, snow dust would drift down from the cypress trees and glitter in the sunlight—and highlight how the sun was slipping into the woods.
Admiring the sun dust and sunshine slowed us down quite a bit.
The first leg took about an hour, then we had to decide whether to head up to Hakkorei Mountain, or up to the Abe Pass. We took the trail up toward Hakkorei, thinking we’d go as high as Fujimidai, “The Mt. Fuji Lookout,” and then re-consider our options.
We were the first ones up that way, so the snow was fresh, about 20 cm of it . . . the first ones up except for the kamoshika (Japanese antelope-goat). Their prints, and the prints of some small animals (weasels???) were pretty much everywhere. The kamoshika prints were a bit difficult to discern at first, because it kind of looked like one kamoshika had been running and another had been riding a bicycle, but then we realized the “bicycle” tracks must have just been the way their hooves dragged through the snow, step by step.
The tree below is a famous “climbing tree.” We’ll be back in the spring.
We got to Fujimidai around 11. Which meant our pace had been about half what it usually was. It wasn’t really so hard to walk in the snow—mainly we just took a lot of pictures.
We decided, rather than go on up to the top of Hakkorei, we’d cut over to the Abe Pass. The woods were a little more open there, not so steep, so we could imagine larger sweeps of pristine snow.
And that’s what we did indeed find.
The trail that connects the Hakkorei trail with the Abe Pass provides one of my favorite views (below).
And then, the Abe Pass (below).
Heading back down from the Abe Pass, along the Sakasa River, we were still walking in pristine snow, making our own path. I think it got about 50 cm deep. As long as you’ve got leg covers to keep the snow out of your boots, there is no problem!
We got back to the trailhead at about 2:15.
Our usual hot springs, Kogane no yu, was closed for repairs, so we stopped by Onogiso. 500 yen a person. A very nice, peaceful rotenburo (outdoor bath).
Please join us next time!