Megtekintve 1458 alkalommal, letöltve 12 alkalommal
közel Doai, Gunma Prefecture (Japan)
The day finally came, after waiting for more than 6 months, to get to Tanigawa and it didn't disappoint. Considering that I'm limited to day-hikes and that it's about 4 hours to get there by train I decided to make the most of it and went for the long traverse trail (course time 16:10 hours without the detour to the water point)
Tanigawa is one of a few mountains I've found where it's possible to do a long traverse entirely along the ridge in a loop fashion. It is also remarkable that the ridge comprised between 1450m at its lowest point (Shimizu pass) and barely 1978m at its highest point (Shigekura) has not a single tree even at the relatively flat areas which are few. The total absence of trees is feature rarely encountered below 2400m or sometimes higher in Japan. Instead of trees in Tanigawa there is huge carpet of Sasa extending as far as the eye can see and a few kinds of bushes but nothing exceeding eye level, which means that the view is open all the way for more than 10 kilometers. On the flip side, there is nothing blocking the wind and proper windproof jacket are necessary even on a sunny autumn day.
We got to Minakami station at 23:30, about 4 hours by train from Tokyo. At this hour the train doesn't go further and we got a ride for the remaining 10 kilometers of road.We reached the car park located in front of the ropeway station and slept there on the first floor (the other floors of this multi-storey parking are closed at night)
At 3:22 we hit the trail head (about 1 km down the road) and hike up the very steep and rocky trail towards Shiragamon. Although very steep and rocky this trail presents no danger, all the rocks are very stable and even in the dark with a headlight there is nothing to pose any problem. In about 2 hours We reached the summit before sunrise but as the sky was lit by a multitude of stars we could notice the shape of Tanigawa after we passed the tree line.Even without direct sunlight the view was getting better by the minute and the gradient of light from blue to red was impressive as we reached our first summit.
On the way to the second summit the sun finally came, it had been blocked by some mountains further East and it was already relatively bright when the first rays hit upon us. Around us the grass which has turned yellow contrasted with the green Sasa and the cloudless sky. Tanigawa-dake on the other side of the valley was showing its imposing East face, a giant wall of rock towering some 1,200 m above the bottom of the valley. While the other surrounding mountains all had nice things to show, Tanigawa is really the king of the area.
We kept hiking up to Asahi-dake, which was hidden by an intermediate summit. From there we could see the whole profile of the mountain, all what we still had left to hike and still no cloud in the sky. After Asahi-dake the East side of the mountain is rather flat compared to the insanely steep slopes of the peaks around Tanigawa-dake. A good number of ponds were visible from the trail and for a while it gave the impression to be in a totally different place. Another 2 hours in terms of map time and we got to Shimizu pass through a bushes of various colors. The Koyo was already quite past its prime there and seen from close the leaves were not impressive, on the other hand the Akamono had their berries bright red and offered a nice contrast with the rest of the scenary.
From Shimizu pass the wind suddenly got extremely strong, the carpet of Sasa was waving under the wind and progression was made harder. At numerous times I found it hard to breathe and had to turn my head on the side to get some air, a few pictures were blurred because my arm moved under the influence of the wind. Two or three times my foot landed quite far from the intended position due to sudden burst of wind. Although I had nothing to measure wind speed I bet it was much higher than the 8 m/s they were talking about on the weather forecast. This strong wind kept blowing until we passed Ichinokura, that is 5:25 hours (map time).
From Shimizu-pass the orientation towards the sun made Tanigawa less prominent and the lower Daigenta-san (1598m) became the star of the moment until it disappeared from sight. This sharp rocky peak only 1 hour away from Nanakoya summit is called the Joetsu Matterhorn as its shape reminds of the Alpine summit.
The trail to Shigekura has a few ups-and-downs and it suddenly got cloudy with clouds blocking the view and disappearing later in succession. The summit was not visible until the end and the wind was getting even stronger to make the effort more intense. On the way the view towards the 堅炭 ridge was impressive even if the light was poor. The slope there seems almost vertical and it is no wonder the trail on this ridge is recommended only for experienced hikers.
From Shigekura the trail becomes more rocky and a few ups-and-downs later we reach the Oki no mimi (1977m), the highest of the two Tanigawa-dake peaks. Toma no mimi (1963m), the South peak is located 10-minutes away. Both summits were crowded with tourists (judgement based on the various kinds of inappropriate shoes worn by those people) who were cheering each time the clouds dissipated to open the view to the West towards Naeba-san. At this time most of the clouds South of the ridge towards Mantaro-san were blocked and stayed South while a small part was passing the ridge only to re-evaporate a few hundred meters later. This made like a giant wave ebbing on a shore, kind of the end of the see of clouds.
The downhill part towards the ropeway station was particulary boring, it was very crowded mostly with people hiking down. The slope is very steep and the trail entirely made of hard rocks, a good number of ropes and chains are also present but nothing dangerous here. It's just painful to go downhill on such terrain after 10 hours of fast-pace hike and some 2,800m of accumulated vertical climb.
The lift costs 1,200 yen one way, even for the way down. A negative side effect of giving a mountain the 百名山 label.
Overall it was a wonderful hike, demanding physically but highly rewarding. In the end the hardest part of the day was to keep from dozing off in the train and missing the train changes.
Here are the stats of the day (still don't understand why it's slightly different between the software and wikiloc):
Total map time: 16:10 + 0:20 for the round trip to the water point = 16:30
Actual duration of the hike: 11:20 (map time * 69%)
Stopped time: 4:07
Total distance: 21.5 km
Accumulation uphill climb: 2,816m
More picture here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dezq54i16f2m8mg/1kXpo0LiKp#/