02. Jul 2013
Mt. Hakkouda is part of Towada-Hachimantai National Park in the center of Aomori-ken.
It is famous for its deep forests, volcanic mountains and hot springs.
Winter in Aomori-ken are very hard and the story about 199 soldiers who died in the mountains in 1902, is well known in Japan and documented in the movie “Mount Hakkouda”.
When I went there in July, only a few snow fields were left on the mountain-slopes.
There are three main routes to hike Hakkoudasan:
1) Sanchokoen: via ropeway from the north-west
2) Round trip Sun…onsen from south
3) Three Peaks hike from east-direction (Yachi Onsen) 谷地温泉
I chose number three, the three peaks hike.
From Yachi Onsen 谷地温泉 a trail lead north-west through a deep, old forest. In the beginning the trail was easy to find and to walk. After about 45 minutes walk, more and more small bamboo was growing below the trees. Soon the way became very difficult to find, some areas covered by water and have been very muddy. It was necessary to crawl below the bamboo to find the way – but at some areas this did not help either. I lost the way at least 5 times in the bamboo bushes and needed to go back and try another direction. Several times I thought, it might be better to return, but I decided to keep on going, and if necessary stay overnight in the mountain.
Always I was lucky, I found the way – until it disappeared again. I was crawling for about 1 hour until I became closer to the top. Then the vegetation changed from bamboo to small mountain pine trees – but still the way was not visible! I needed to move the branches to see the way which became very tiring. It took much longer as expected – but finally I reached the top of Mt. Takada-Odake (高田大岳) and had a short rest at the shrine. My shirt was full of leaves, insects and other stuff, the arms and legs scratched by plants and rocks and I was completely dirty and muddy, but happy. The tour continued north-west and the way became easier to find, but still not good visible at all. After reaching the trail from south leading up to the peak, the situation improved a lot. Trail easy to find, wide and marked, and I was able to speed up. After I was on the main trail, I was not alone any more. I met an hiking group and the guide was absolutely surprised that I came via Mt. Takada-Odaken. He told me, that it is almost impossible to find the way and it must have been really very difficult. Yes, it was – a real jungle hike.
The rest of the hike up to Otake, which is the highest peak of Hakkoda mountains, was easy to find and to walk. Beautiful flowers bloomed around the top, some of them I saw first time in my life. When I reached the top, weather was cloudy, and I stayed only a couple of minutes, then descended on the northwest side of Otake. Wooden steps lead down to a highland march, then the way was built of wooden blankets. I could hear thunder in the surrounding mountain but it did not rain until I reached Sukayu-Onsen.
There is a public bus transfer between the Onsen, its easy to commute between the different parking areas.
Overall – I had mixed feeling about the tour and for sure, I cannot recommend this tour to hikers who are not absolutely tough, well equipped and experienced. It is too difficult to find the way, keep direction and exhausting for the whole body. I really enjoyed the onsen and relaxed in the hot water for a long time.
Sukayu-Onsen 酸ヶ湯温泉: http://www.sukayu.jp/
谷地温泉 Yachi Onsen, 9:30 am, 760m
高田大岳 Takada-Odake, 12:15 pm, 1.552m
小岳 Kodake, 1.478m
八甲田大岳山 Hakkodaoodake, 2:25pm, 1.584 m
酸ヶ湯温泉 Sukayu-Onsen, 4:00 pm, 910m