|Just a few meters back it was warm and sunny . . .|
(Photo by Mitsuhashi-san)
My hiking partner looked at me and said, "You're wearing jeans??"
It was a balmy day for January -- T-shirt weather -- and I'd climbed Aiko Dake before, so I answered without hesitation, "Yeah, why not? If it gets cold or rainy, I'll just head back down."
Famous Last Words in Yakushima.
On this particular day, the peak was covered in snow drifts and ice. Fortunately, we didn't need our spikes (neither of us had brought them, anyways), but the ropes to assist the steep climb were iced over and my hands turned numb even inside my double-thick (but finger-less) fleece gloves. The wind blasted us on the peak, and I looked longingly down towards the sunny coast below as my partner took pictures. If he was trying to break my patience, it worked, and I graciously accepted a pair of disposable heat-pads so I could descend the rope course before my hands froze stiff.
Aiko-Dake, I thought,
you got the best of me again.
|"Is that ice up there?"|
The trail head is well marked: Just follow the signs (in Japanese) from the big strangler fig tree next to the main road in Koseda. The trail is also well-marked with pink tape.
|The first, and easiest|
of the ropes.
|An internet search says this stump|
is named "Shirube Tree."
So why go through the trouble?
From the moment you leave the trail head, I personally find this area has a very casual, walk-in-the-woods feel. It's a bit hard to explain, but, partially because of the lack of deep moss forests, Yakusugi, and unusual boulders, I find this trail mentally relaxing. But I think most people might enjoy it for the following reasons:
|That MIT diploma is|
not helping right now. . .
There are of course a few deer and probably some monkeys. (How else can I explain a yuzu* fruit I found near the trail?)
|The shrine at the peak,|
called a hokora.
|The perfect tree for an afternoon nap|
on the way down.
Peak Elevation: 1235 m
Trail Head Elevation: 180 m
Map time: ~5.5 hours round trip
Bus stop: Koseda (The trail head is about a half hour's walk from the bus stop.)