The dust in the rusting tin storage shack I had stayed in near Goryu campsite had gotten the best of me, and I woke up sneezing and chilled. But it was a worthy trade-off, and I was pleased I didn’t have to bother pitching my tent the night before. I got a sound sleep without the harsh sounding wind cutting through my tent walls.
I had been too exhausted and cold as the trek up from Hakuba town, and through Mt. Shirouma two days before, had thoroughly worn me out. The mountains in this area were steep and the biting winds were nothing to reckon with though the views of the North Alps were generally worth it.
I stepped outside and greeted the mountain. Blue skies and a few scattered clouds were a relief but the morning chill made me still appreciate my rainwear as I slipped it over my clothing.
“Ohaiyo! Come and join us for a cup of coffee!” I heard from Yuu, only his head visible from his bright orange tent door. I smiled and walked over to Yuu and Hiyoshi's tent. I had met them the previous evening as they were scouting the area for backcountry trails, so they would be ready when the winter snowfall came.
I looked at my map, relieved that rain wasn’t in the forecast, but my pack was heavy with gear and the steep peak of Kashima-yari in the distance looked daunting. But the guys were all smiles as we made our way up the trail.
As we had gotten a late start, we had missed not only the crowd but also the thick gusts that had blocked the views that morning. Goryu, still a couple hours away, was in full view and somehow felt closer.
Trail Tips: If coming from Tokyo, Day One requires a long commute and multiple transfers, it’s advisable to start early in the day or stay the night before the hike in Hakuba. Certain areas of this hike will have pockets of remaining snow and ice in late June and early July, therefore having crampons is a good idea.
Nights will be chilly early in the season for camping and many of the huts will not be in full service until July, so if planning to stay overnight, call to confirm availability. On the descent from Goryu, you can take a different, scenic trail by going back down to Haku-dake (2,541 meters) and hiking eastward toward the Alps-Daira Lift. This will require you to take the lift down from Alps-Daira to Toumi Station which will bring you to JR Kamishiro Station.
Difficulty Level: 4 out of 5
Location: Nagano, North Alps
Peak: 2,814 meters
Duration: 2-day hike
When to go: July - Late October
How to get there: From Shinjuku take the Azusa Super Express train to Hakuba Station. You may need to change trains in Matsumoto. Walk or take a taxi to Happo where you can take a gondola and a connecting lift at Usagi-daira to Happo Ike Sanso trailhead. (Return via Goryu-Toumi lift, near JR Kamishiro Station).
Shinjuku ⇒Hakuba Station⇒Happo ⇒Happo Lift Station⇒ Usagi Daira Lift ⇒Happo Ike Sanso (trailhead)
(3 hrs. 36 mins. ¥8,270) ⇒ (5 mins. ¥180) ⇒ (10 mins. walk) ⇒ (8 mins. ¥860) ⇒ (20 mins. ¥540).
Things to bring
Raingear, flashlight, map, camera, sunscreen, plenty of water, camera, gloves, sunglasses, warm hat, (tent and sleeping bag for camping).
Hakuba Kanko Taxi: (0261) 72-2144
Hakuba Town Tourist Information: (0261) 72-3232
Hakuba Ike Lodge: (0261) 72-2855
Goryu Lodge: (0261) 22-2477
Karamatsu Lodge: (0568) 91-9608
Recommended Hiking Schedule
Day 1: 5 hours 10 minutes (Stay overnight Karamatsu Hut)
Day 2: 8 hourrs