Hiking in Nikko

I was up late, doing anything but what I need to do. I’m awake before my alarm, not that it matters. I linger again in bed but know it’s beautiful outside. The curtains really need to be open. I put on extra layers this time. I notice the hole in my pajamas is now huge. I can’t wear it like this… I’ll have to buy a pair at Uniqlo after all.

The Japanese woman sees me before she leaves and thanks me for the conversation and snacks last night. Adorable! The Taiwanese woman is leaving for Tokyo. I say goodbye and go pick up snacks.

At the bakery again, I realize that if it is already wrapped, it’s from yesterday which explains the stale bread I had. I pick a sandwich and two pastries. I stop by the convenience store for something to eat now like yogurt or those potato beef croquettes. No luck so I get sake and spicy chips instead.

I eat half the sandwich and a pastry as I wait for the bus. I can’t wait for hiking!

The bus arrives and it takes us much farther than yesterday. The bus keeps winding its way higher and higher into the mountains. I’m concerned because suddenly there’s snow here. Ugh.

Off the bus, I take in the wonderful scenery. There’s restrooms on this side and across the street is Akanuma Nature Center. I know my sneaker aren’t even water resistant so I stop in the bathroom to rearrange my things and use the small plastic bags as a water proof layer between my shoes and socks. Humility is what you learn from traveling and you also reach a point where you don’t care.

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I walk towards the parking lot looking for the start of the trail. Clearly not looking in the right spot; I stop inside the nature center. The man there was not confident in my shoes and probably my clothing.

I ignore his friendly warnings and spot the Senjo-ga-hara trail easily near the bus stop where I started. I walk a few yards before stopping. I can handle the snow but not the uneven layer of ice covering the path. The map doesn’t show anyway of shortening the route once I start. I turn back toward the bus stop and decide to check out the waterfall and try a shorter trail around the lake.

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After a couple of photos, I wait for the bus. Two cars stop and ask if I need a lift. I point to the bus stop. It’ll be here soon. Part of me wants to hitch a ride but it wasn’t necessary and I’m sure they have things to do.

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The bus arrives and I’m on my way to the next stop. The Yutaki Falls are a short walk from the road and there’s a convenience store…? Okay. I take some photos and eat the rest of my sandwich. It’s snowing again. Tiny flakes like yesterday.

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Instead of walking up what might be icy stairs along the falls, I walk back to the road and try to find the start of the trail. It starts at the top of the falls and wraps around Lake Yunoko. Here the wind picks up.

It’s cold now. Really cold. I have an extra pair of socks with me and use them as gloves. Gotta improvise. I never expected to experience all four seasons in a short period of time.

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The trail is easier. Half the time there’s no snow. At the end there’s a platform that leads into town. It’s a good spot for sake. I’m interrupted by a tour group and I’m not sure public drinking is allowed? I walk out of there.

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I continue to the end of the trail and it seems there’s not much to Yumoto Onsen other than, well, the onsen. I hang out by the lake until the bus arrives. It sure is beautiful. There’s some excitement for winter back home but then the wind kicks in and I just don’t want to be so cold.

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I stop at the next waterfall– Ryuzu Falls. It’s like shrines here. This one isn’t as cool in my opinion but there’s food to accompany the view. Late lunch it is. Noodles of course with a local specialty (yuba?).

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Back on the bus again to the last waterfall for today. It’s near the larger lake, Lake Chuzenji, and I make note that the trail doesn’t have much snow. Maybe tomorrow. Sunset might be nice here and I set my alarm for the next bus arrival.

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Kegon Falls are awesome. Clearly the popular one though there’s only a few people. You can pay to take an elevator down but the platform view is enough. I stop in a shop to warm up and buy treats to bring home. Back towards the lake. It’s too cold for me to wait for sunset. Some more photos and I wait for the bus in a long line.

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Luckily I make it on. There are seats that fold out into the aisle for extra people and I end up with one of these seats. The bus driver is talking on and on. He must be giving some history of the area or something. He points out some moneys wandering near the road. The two women next to me squeal, kawaii!

Last night, the American mentioned delicious tomato soup and back in town I spot the restaurant nearby. I get a small bowl, still full from the soba noodles earlier. Has it been so long or is it really that good? Yum!

I’m making a mental list of what I need to do still before leaving Japan. Ya know if I ever buy my ticket! Ugh. I scold myself. But whatever happens, happens. I hope I can get away with this in New Zealand. If wifi is harder to come by than it will be rough. A new adventure indeed.

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