In the mountains autumn was just starting to arrive, with patches of yellow and red dotted up and down the hills. We had made the brave and possibly foolish decision to attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Furano, standing 1912 metres above sea level. We couldn’t have picked a better day.
In retrospect, the scene above provides several clues that we didn’t really know what we were getting into. As you can see, the path was quite rocky, and we didn’t have hiking boots. Secondly, in the background you can see a dude with all the gear — backpack, walking stocks, special blue hiking tights or whatever they are — we had none of that. Finally, that guy was already coming down the mountain. We were just starting. Would we be able to reach the summit and come back down before nightfall?
As we continued to ascend, the path got steeper and rockier. Every time we crested a rise we found another impossibly tall section towering above us. After several hours of hiking Moon Tan was struggling, but to her credit she grit her teeth and pushed on towards the summit.
To the east, the Asahikawa National Park stretched as far as the eye can see. It’s the largest nature reserve in Japan, and hikers are required to wear bells to ward off bears (or announce to the bears that lunch has arrived. One or the other…)
Once we got back down to the base of the mountain the sun was setting. There was a fantastic outdoor hotspring overlooking the mountain, and Moon Tan and I soaked our tired muscles and looked at the autumn colours (in our respective gender-segregated areas, of course!). Then I had a beer. It was great.
Mountain climbing in Hokkaido: 10 out of 10.