Mid-week I took a little vacation so a friend and I could hike around the Aso region. I had been pretty busy with work and had done barely the minimum amount of preparation for the hikes. Which worked out wonderfully, I was completely overwhelmed with the beauty of the place. It is unbelievable to me that these views are so close (kind of) to where I live. We got so lucky in so many ways: weather, trail conditions, no closures due to volcanic activity and we didn’t see a single other person the entire hike. We had the whole mountain range to ourselves and it was something I’ll always remember.
Even though it’s still technically winter it was warmer than I had thought it could be. The ground was still icy but it was very beautiful. In the first part of the trip we walked through some valleys with buried signposts and eventually reached Hutate Pass (bottom left picture). Then it’s time to really start going up. There is this golden grass everywhere and at this time of day it was just magical to climb up (bottom right picture) to the first peak, Mt. Shiroguchi・白口岳.
Here we are at the top, ready to make lunch. I have often seen people using these little campfire burners on hikes and I cannot believe I waited until now to get one. Coffee has never tasted better than it has at 1700m. We had funny ‘just-add-water’ camping food and it was just the best. In the distance you can see the Sleeping Bhuddha made up of the 5 main peaks in Aso.
These are in around the second peak, Mt Inahoshi・稲星山. All this area was formed by volcanic activity, and some of the volcanoes are still active.
At 1786.5m, we made it to Mt Kuju・久住山. It was so windy and incredible. It’s easy to understand how addictive mountain hopping here can get; there are just so many, so close and every view is more beautiful than the last. You can see the crater (right, middle picture) surrounded by mountains and if you look very closely you can see the ash coming from the Nakadake in the distance. Tragically, just after we got to the top my phone completely shut down so the bottom right picture is the last I was able to take for a while. As we were descending the sun went down and I got one last picture (bottom left). There wasn’t a cloud in the sky so our view of the stars was maybe the best I’ve ever seen.
I took all of these photos on my old, half broken phone and wish they could do more justice to reality. It was the best.