The previous night we had stayed at the excellent Tarumaeso Riders’ house, so we were away by 8am this morning on our bikes, in order to meet another 6 friends who would meet us at the trailhead to Mt Tarumae at 9:30am. We had a 7km uphill ride from the riders’ house to get there. Despite the uphill we were happy we were on bikes, enjoying the autumn colors and forest light.
It transpired that the two cars with the others would end up arriving 30 minutes late, by which time the highest-altitude car-park was full. They had to settle for the lower carpark which necessitated an extra 45 minute walk. This meant that the cycling trio started up the hill ahead.
Reveling in the early clear views, including the smoking cork protruding from the floor of Mt Tarumae’s very active-looking crater.
Apart from the smoking depths of the crater, among the more curious curiosities was a couple hiking with their intrepid chihuahua.
The view across Lake Shikotsu and the Chitose plains was equally enticing. And the wait for the other hikers in our group allowed for some relaxing downtime.
By the time the others had arrived an hour later, however, cloud cover had increased and the wind had picked up, requiring all layers on deck. The way down was the kind of wind-speed that gets the heart pumping. So much so that we wondered if the chihuahua made it off the mountain by means other than flying.
Luckily for the whole troupe, the views on the way down were just as spectacular as on the way up.
Leaving the others with their 45 minute walk down the gravel road to the lower car park, Haidee, Dirk and I jumped on our bikes for a fast downhill ride to Shikotsu Spa, where we would meet up again for an onsen hotspring.
We somehow managed to miss the others at the onsen, and only ended up seeing them again once they were finished…in the mean time, while we thought we were still waiting for them to arrive at the onsen, we managed to see a taiko drum performance in the spa town center.
It was dark by the time we made the 4km bike ride back to the riders’ house…exhausted from a very full day.