Winter Hikers Leave their Mark

In central Nagano, winter has been long and cold and the coming of spring fickle at best.  This past weekend, Matsumoto experienced a period of spring-like weather before returning to cold temperatures later in the week.  Apparently though, cold weather and snow  do not discourage the real enthusiasts.  This week, with spring just around the corner, we turn the clock back to February to look at the snow shoe tours that brought crowds to Kamikochi in the middle of winter.



Around the time regular people were getting ready to exchange Valentine’s chocolates in offices around Japan, a very different kind of event was happening in Kamikochi.  Avid hikers from various parts of the country took advantage of a long weekend to strap on snowshoes and leave their mark along the Azusa River.  Unbelievably, these snowshoe tours brought up to 150 people at a time to the usually tranquil winter setting. 


All of this must have come as a shock to the monkeys who are used to having their run of the place during the winter season.  They could still be seem roaming the park in small groups and foraging for food.



With the ground still covered in a thick blanket of snow, it can be hard to tell where the paths are.  Luckily, however, the large number of snowshoe tracks make it clear where others have gone.  Here’s what the scene looked like a month ago, with visitors getting some vigorous exercise with the majestic peak of Mount Yakedake looming in the background:



And, as long as we’re on the topic of winter hiking in Kamikochi, please take a moment to review these basic rules for maintaining the balance of nature (and the safety of visitors) while hiking Kamikochi in winter.  The matter is discussed in detail in this blog entry from December:


Well, that’s all for now.  We at SHK will be posting regular updates in the lead-up to the opening of the Kama Tunnel to traffic on April 20th and Kamikochi’s formal opening ceremony on the 27th.  We’re very excited about the new season and hope you’ll be there to join us in welcoming spring 2013.


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Source of Information:


National Parks Foundation Website: