Monday, September 19, 2011

Mt. Bandai in Fukushima

It sounds dodgy, but the mountain itself is just as far away from the nuclear power plant as our apartment in Tochigi. I didn't bother to go out and buy a brand new geiger counter just for today's climb, lets put it that way!

We climbed from Urabandai ski ground, which isn't as dull as it sounds. You soon get out of the desolate summer ski area and on to the first small sulphur lake below the main incline. It was a really cool place to stumble across and set a benchmark impression for the day.

The sulpur lake at the bottom of the first incline. Reminded me of Planet of the Apes.

Same lake, different view.

This was taken quite close to the top. We were really lucky with the weather, considering there are two typhoons raging just off the Pacific coast right now.

Bandai is a recently erupted volcano. By recent I mean 1888, when it erupted violently killing 500 people and reshaping the local geography into what it looks like now. There have been minor eruptions since then, but that's the last big one according to my own sketchy translations.

Six accomplished hikers.

Inawashiro lake in the distance, where our friends camped the night before.

Clouds over the adjacent ski runs. I love desolate ski grounds in the summer time. They bring back great memories for snow sports enthusiasts and they have an ironically empty atmosphere when they're full of crickets, lizards and cicadas.

It's a very orangey mountain, due to the sulphur I suppose, and it's surrounded by a bunch of lakes that were created by the big blow in 1888. Some of these seem to be sulphur lakes, some of them are good for fishing.

It was a busy mountain due to the holiday weekend, but there were a number of different trails to choose from which thinned out the crowds. The only place where everyone gathered was the summit, of course. We took a very scenic route back down though, and saw very few people on the way. The down trail reminded me of something out of a spaghetti western. I half expected Clint Eastwood to come riding towards me on his horse. Getting his hyakumeizan in!!

I also managed to pick up some volcanic souvenirs from Bandai san for my indoor displays. The rock field towards the bottom was a real gold mine for anyone looking to add elegance to their ornamentals! I've got to clean the rocks first, but when that job's done I'll be posting pics!!

Me in my Arabian head gear.

The field of rocks, ripe for picking.

Aki, amid the rocks, sporting Kazu's mountain hat.

If you look closely, you can see cigar smoke and glinting spurs.