It seems like only yesterday that the end of Obon concluded the first phase of the summer season here at Kamikochi. Now, on the last day of August it’s beginning to feel more like autumn every day. Not that you would know that from the conditions down in the cities, where it is still quite hot.
As we turn toward autumn, we begin to notice a drop in visitors to the park. As recently as a week ago, however, people were still coming out in force to snap pictures at Kappa Bridge and cool off by the riverside and under the shade of Kamikochi’s plentiful trees.
Naturally, there were also people making their way up to the peaks of the surrounding mountains. These photos, taking by NPG bloggers with a telephoto lens, show what they looked like from a distance:
These folks went all the way to the top of Mt. Oku Hotaka. You can faintly see their silhouettes on the right.
And here we see human figures dotting the ridge of Mt. Yake. Rugged people on rugged peaks. That’s how I imagine them anyway. I have yet to climb either of these peaks myself, and am slightly leery of Hotaka as my altitude sickness seems to kick in around 2800m up!
It’s also worth mentioning that a change in seasons marks a change in approach to climbing mountains. My father, who trained extensively while serving in the Canadian army tells me, “When heading for altitude, you have to prepare for the previous season and the coming season.” In other words, when climbing in summer, prepare for both spring and autumn. Likewise, the arrival of autumn means that, up on those peaks, you will start encountering winter-like conditions. This won’t happen for a while yet, but it is well to keep it in mind.
Between the end of the summer season and the start of the autumn foliage season, there will be a sharp drop-off in visitors to the park, making it an ideal time to visit. Check the weather for a clear day, then plan and pack accordingly. September is a lovely time of year here!
Source of Information:
– Kamikōchi National Park Guide Website (http://npg-alps.net/)
– Shirakabaso Hotel Website (http://shirakabaso.com/)