After stocking up at the convenience store in Aibetsu, Jeff and I drove along the long forest road deep into the hills and drew up in front of the imposing Teshio-dake Hutte. A couple of other parties had already arrived to stay, but there was plenty of room upstairs to find a quiet corner and spread out. A few more cars outside appeared to belong to fishermen seeking trout in the rolling and tumbling river the road had followed on the way up. One man was expertly filleting a very decent sized fish for sashimi in the campsite kitchen area. ‘Where did you learn to do that?’ we asked, impressed with his skill. ‘YouTube,’ he replied laconically as handed us each a piece. It was delicious.
After a comfortable night we set off next morning under a beautiful blue sky, and within a couple of hours were out of the forest into open high mountain country with the whole circular route spread out before us. After a short break on Mae Teshio-dake we dropped down to the col through the creeping pines and scrubby birch bushes. It was getting hotter now, making the climb up the other side feel tougher. But soon enough we were at the top enjoying the panorama in all directions.
The return led us down along the broad west ridge through a sea of sasa dwarf bamboo to the sharply angled roof of the emergency refuge, set in a broad col between two minor rounded lumps. Before the hut we spied a faint trail heading up Nishi Teshio-dake so nipped up to claim the third nail in the horseshoe. The weather was still flawless as we ambled slowly down along the ridge to where the connecting trail dropped down to the right into the forest, to rejoin our outward path and head back to the Hutte. All in all a very satisfying day in some wild country.