These trails are a great introduction to Daisetsuzan, or Nutakukamu-ushuppe in Ainu (this area is also known by the Ainu name Kamuy Mintara, romantically translated as Garden of the Gods).
The last time I came here was by chance – the access to our planned route was closed due to a typhoon so Jeff and I backtracked to Sounkyo and rode the ropeway up to do Hokuchindake. It was early in the season with plenty of snow still around and swirling mist added to the sense of wilderness.
There were no views from the top of Hokuchindake, though it cleared up a bit and rained briefly on the way back to Kurodake. It was still a bit early for the full glory of alpine flowers, but near the hut a Siberian Rubythroat was singing away madly.
After a break at the hut, we climbed up Kurodake in the late afternoon. There was nobody else around so we took the opportunity to investigate the sheer cliffs on the north side of the summit. We then realized the time was getting on, so rushed quickly down to the chairlift. Drifts of slippery snow on the trail slowed us down and we only made it just in time – it stopped running at 17:30 that day.
Then it was down to the onsen at Kurodake no Yu for a good soak, followed by a well-earned plate of delicious pasta in the unassuming looking restaurant on the ground floor. It doesn’t look like that kind of place but is now one of our favourite stops if we are in these parts.