Here’s the last part, almost a year after I did the hike.
Morning came again and I began making my way up Oku-hotaka, occasionally glimpsing back to look at the progress I made the last two days.
After gaining the summit ridge, you can see the impressive ridgeline to Gens d’armes.
The summit itself is nothing too impressive, other than the fact that it’s the third highest peak in Japan. There is a small shrine, and a lot of people.
However the views of the Kamikochi valley in the dissipating clouds is nice.
A look back at Oku-hotaka on my way to Mae-hotaka, the last peak in this traverse.
The climb up Mae-Hotaka from the trail junction is probably one of the hardest parts of the whole hike, but the view of all the peaks that you’ve conquered on the way there makes it worthwhile. There’s also far less people since this peak is “optional.”
Going back down is just as treacherous.
After that is an endless descent down Dakesawa valley back to civilization.
You pass by another hut on the way down, unfortunately I got there too early for lunch.
As you lose elevation, it starts getting hotter and hotter, but there is a little cave called Kaze ana (literally, “wind hole”) on the way down to cool you down a bit.
Eventually you meet up with the crowds of Kamikochi again, cross the famous Kappabashi, and get one last look at Oku-hotaka before hopping on the bus. It’s a beautiful view, but perhaps even more so after having spent three days up there.
Although the mid-summer crowds of the mountains were annoying at times, I thought it made for quite a unique experience. If these mountains were in any other country they would be inaccessible to all but the most avid hikers and climbers, but the amount of infrastructure makes them open to everyone from school kids to old ladies. Of course it can be argued whether that’s for the good or bad, but there is no denying that the availability and easy of access into such beautiful mountains helped make people in Japan into mountain lovers, myself included.