As I mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons people come to Sounkyo is for the hiking; and hiking Mt Kurodake in particular. Of course we were going to take things a little bit further, but the day started with us catching the ropeway up the side of the Sounkyo gorge, where we had an incredible view all the way up and down the gorge, while also getting a closer look at Mt Kurodake in the distance.
Due to the slightly warmer conditions, the leaves at these lower elevations have only just started turning colours recently so it was mainly a sea of green all the way up to the first station. We then transferred over to a cable car to take us a little further up the mountainside. Very peaceful, slowly being carried along only a couple of metres above the ground. Trying to jump off at the end without getting dragged along the platform was a bit chaotic, but we managed ok!
After a brief stop to register our details in the hiking log, we started up the path with a host of other tourists. As we ascended you could see the reds, yellows and oranges in the leaves becoming more and more noticeable. The only real comparison in Australia is the fagus in Tasmania as far as I’m aware (besides non-natives of course), but you certainly don’t get the amount of vegetation that they get here in Japan.
On a side note, there must be something in the food or water over here that keeps the locals spritely well into their old age. As we got higher and higher (on a very steep and rocky track) we kept passing, or getting passed by, Japanese in their 60s and 70s. Later in the day we had a closer look at the hiking log and noticed there were plenty in their 70s completing the hike, with oldest being 78! All I can say is I hope I’m that chipper at that age!
After about an hour we got to the top where we were greeted by incredible views back down towards Sounkyo and also over to the volcanic landscape to the west. It was quite eerie with thick mists getting swiftly blown up and over the mountain, causing the surrounding mountains and valleys to randomly appear and disappear the whole time!
We then pushed on towards the west, down to the Mt Kurodake hut where we took the northern track towards Mt Mamiya. Unfortunately, as we had to make it back to the ropeway by 4:30pm we knew we wouldn’t have enough time to do the full loop around the valley, so we turned back a little bit before the turn off to Mt Hokuchin and made our way back to Mt Kurodake and down the mountain to the ropeway.
Of course, while at the summit of Mt Kurodake we had to pose for a photo…
It was an amazing day and more than lived up to our expectations!
We were hoping to do some hiking tomorrow from Ginsendai down to Sounkyo, but it looks like the buses stopped running last week, so no luck there. We’ll probably do a couple of shorter walks near Sounkyo instead.