Monday, March 18, 2013

Exterior Mountain #3. Hasa-Dake

"Want another chocolate?" my companion called from behind. I was antsy because we'd just taken a break ten minutes back, but I couldn't complain because usually I'm the one in the back, and this time he was offering whiskey-filled chocolate from Europe. I was a bit annoyed, however, because I knew the woman in the information booth had reached the peak in 3 hours, and we'd been told it should take us two hours, but at this stop-and-go pace. . . "Unlike you, " my companion explained, "I don't have any extra fat to burn because of this diet. One chocolate gives me ten minutes of energy."



The trail starts where
the logging road ends. 
Hasa-Dake is a half-day hike up the mountain still visited annually by pilgrims from the town of Hirauchi. It seems to me that this mountain attracts more than its fair share of beginning hikers, and hence has a rather undeserved reputation as a challenging, harry--perhaps even treacherous--peak. Anyways, there are no Yakusugi or waterfalls or moss forests, but there is a remarkable vertical distrubutiom of fora, and the view from the open peak is lovely . . .  and Hirauchi also sees more fair weather than most parts of Yakushima. (Hirauchi is also known for the Youth Hostel, and a sea-side hot spring that is only usable at low tide.)

The trail is deceptively
gentle at first. . .
Map-time is about 3 hours up and 2.5 hours down, plus time to get to the trail head. Oh, to get to the trail head, you'll want to ask the locals for directions. You basically head north from the Ozaki bus stop until you get to a recently paved street, and then head up an old logging road (not the sort of road that most passenger vehicles can tolerate) on the far side of the street, but it's not marked. Eventually, the logging road reaches a river and the bridge has been long-since washed away. From here, you can follow the pink trail-marker ribbons. (Please pay attention to these; there are old trails and deer paths that lead off in other directions. . . ) I don't advise this hike to anyone not used to hiking on rugged terrain or anyone with mixed feelings about hiking up a valley of boulders and loose rocks.

Never mind the drop-off; there's a
nice view of Shichigo-Dake.
I'm not sure how safe this
would be during a storm. . .
Falling rocks?
There are also a couple areas with ropes, and one area looks a bit like a gully that might get ugly in a storm. So check the weather forecast and skip this hike if you get vertigo.

This peak has a great
on-top-of-the-world feel!
In the end, we made it up in two hours and enjoyed an overcast, but clear view from the top.

The hokora, or shrine.
I found a bit of refuge from the wind at the recess where the shrine (called a hokora) is located.

Yakushima crape myrtle
(Lagerstroemia indica)
On the way back down, we took a little time to enjoy the typical Exterior-Mountain flora, including giant crape myrtles and beautiful ferns.

photos by Mitsuhashi-san and me.

No-Hunting Area
Peak Elevation: 1259 m
Trail Head Elevation: ~300 m (First 100 m or so is up an old logging road.)
Map time: ~5 hours round trip
Bus stop: Ozaki (Maybe about 1.5 km inland from the bus stop.)
Note: The trail is well marked, but the trail head is not!

I have to apologize that I failed to record both the beginning and end of the trail. I'll have to go back!
(In the mean time, just ask at a tourist information booth for info!)

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