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near Katashina (Japan)
Last month I geared up in prevision of the sawanobori season (the Japanese version of canyoneering, which consists of going uphill in mountain stream) and joined for the first time this year.
We spent the night at 白沢 Michinoeki it was comfortable in the shelter, 3 of us slept inside without the need to pitch a second tent.
At 4:00 it was light already while a full moon was still shining. After dozing off helplessly at the back of the car for 50 minutes we reached the trail head located on the bank of 丸沼 lake.
The trail starts off by crossing Shiro stream, however it's not recommended to enter the stream from the start because the lower part has a handful of dams. After a few hundred meters of almost flat terrain we can finally enter it. There is nothing big enough to be called waterfall but it is enjoyable and easily accessible without climbing gears. There were no deep parts and I hardly got water rising to knee level.
Before the intersection there was a succession of slabs over 200 meters, with a slope never exceeding 20 degrees and mostly below 10 degrees. After that we left the stream and reached ... pass after a few minutes on a steep and slippery trail.
From the pass the trail is first flat and the ridge stands out, it becomes progressively steep up to somewhere near 40 degrees in a matter of minutes. The soil is covered with dirt full of moisture and it is particularly slippery when wearing shoes with felt soles, hence the need to bring approach shoes.
At the summit the view to the South and Oku-Shirane was amazing with clear visibility and few clouds, incredible considering the rainy season has already started. The songs of birds could be heard now and there but in the background we could also distinguish the sounds of motorbikes although kilometers away from us.
We went back down using the same trail. The slippery slopes were treacherous and much care was needed especially since felt soles offer little grip on trails.
We were back to the car around 11:50 AM.
Overall it was a beautiful hike, no difficulty regarding the sawanobori part, a bit too steep to walk on the trail with felt soles.
More pictures here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2deiaq73spy578v/AABhe4cocO0TxBZeZhHHK8N7a