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near Kuribana, Kanagawa (Japan)
Fast pace hike / trail running in Tanzawa
Before anything, let it be clear that one has got to be slightly insane to consider this route in one day. Also I should say that I have leveled up in the realm of the crazies. I improved my longest distance from 30 to 37 km and total accumulation climb (from 2,150 cf. http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=3849183) to almost 3,000m (GPS stats)
Map and GPS stats
Total distance: 37.55 km
Accum. climb: 2878m
Mean Mov. Speed: 4.1 km/h
Stopped time 0:48
Tsurumaki -> Ooyama Map time: 5:45 Personal time: 2:38
Ooyama -> Yabitsu Map time: 0:50 Personal time 0:25
Yabitsu -> Tonodake Map time: 4:05 Personal time 2:30
Tonodake -> Picnic spot Map time: 2:15 Personal time 1:45
Then I got the wrong turn and ended up on an abandoned trail then walked along the road for 5km and all this is not timed on the map.
About the route now. The trail from Tsurumaki Onsen station to Ooyama is very clear to follow with no dangerous part, it is about 11.5 km and map time is 5:45. The very fist part is on paved road amid a residential neighborhood and after a few hundred meters the trail starts on comfortable terrain. For the first 8 kilometers the trail has a lot of ups and downs or moderate slope along with flat parts. It is agreeable for a run (even for an inexperienced guy like me). In terms of scenery there is nothing much here, a few hideous high voltage towers, 2 spots with a view on Fuji (but nothing compared to what one can see from Tonodake) and a partial view of Ooyama amid the trees. Compared to last time when I took that trail downhill in the afternoon there were much less people in the early morning but still I was surprised to see a handful of hikers who obviously had stared before 6AM.
The second part of the trail to Ooyama (from kilometer 8 to 11.5) has much less nice things. No downhill and a lot of stairs for a steeper slope than the first part. There is nothing to see and on top of that at the very end it gets crowded as the trail merges with the one leading to the cable car. The summit was relatively calm with few people, indeed it was still before 9:00 AM so only the early risers would be close enough to the summit at that time.
From Ooyama to Yabitsu, there are slightly more views and also much more people, the crowds must have started en masse from the pass after riding a bus. There are many signs indicated the trail is slippery, well maybe after a rain but not really when dry. There are a few wooden stairs, sign of frequent traffic and at times there were even traffic jams prompting me to pass people on the side (at that time the bear bell wasn't enough to have the people yield)
At Yabitsu pass there was a crowd of cyclist and after the short portion of road leading to the trail head there was another crowd of hikers staring their day toward Tonodake. About 100m on the side there is a water point, you don't want to miss it if Yabitsu is not the start of your day but an intermediate passing point. The trail then starts off relatively steep, at that time I had already 1500m of positive elevation and 14km of total distance in the legs so swift accelerations led to cramps in all the muscles of my legs, even in some I didn't know existed or could be the subjects of cramps. Likewise I couldn't let the cramps win and knew that after a few minutes of efforts they would disappear so I forged on relentlessly passing everybody (newbie?) trail runners starting their day from Yabitsu likewise. Being half naked and presumably the only guy in a hurry to reach the summit, I was met by ongoing hikers with broad smiles on their faces.
Up to Sannoto there is nothing much in terms of scenery (must be said the weather was getting cloudy) as mainly Ooyama appears towering in the back, but Ooyama is no pretty sight. The view become interesting from Sannnoto with plunging view of the next hut and the steep rocky stretches with chains leading to it. Tonodake was in the clouds the whole way and there was little thing appealing to my camera.
After 21km and around 2500m of positive elevation I reached Tonodake. It took 5:32 (which seemed a lot longer) compared to the 10:40, 52% of map time… not bad. At the hut one can buy water for 400 yen / 500 ml, highway robbery one could say but as I was running out of water I readily parted with my money. Around the summit a multitude of hikers were having lunch, I just spend a few minutes to sit and wolf down a few onigiris, at that time (12:05 when I left the summit) I was still targeting to finish the hike by 4:04 (last bus to be back home in time) with still 15 km to go.
From Tonodake the weather was quite bad and it must be said I was lacking in energy (had wasted all surplus) so I packed the 1.5 kg DSLR in my backpack and replaced it by the trekking poles. As I feared it's then that a snake appeared on the trail and I missed the chance to get it, after that a dear … I would have been damned if I had missed a kamoshika, which hopefully didn't happen.
The trail first goes back to Shindainichi and then the North ridge (Nagao ridge) goes trough an all but flat forest relatively dense in woods, offering nothing to see. It connects to a road after a while, which still nothing in particular. This trail is more a way to go down from Tonodake a different way than usual (too short and boring to go via Okura ridge, too long and hard to go all the way to Nishi Tanzawa).
It is not quite popular and I met only 2 human beings (compared to the hundreds on the Yabitsu -> Tonodake trail)
After crossing the river I got mistaken and got a wrong turn. I didn't notice in time and after a few hundred meters I was too lazy to turn back. That trail was clearly an old abandoned trail as it was severely damaged by rock falls and not repaired, also the mountain was starting to recover it from human grasp. Anyway it turns out that trail made me go back South while I wanted to go East and I decided to keep in that direction to reach Yabitsu pass again.
From there I dodged the dozens of hikers waiting for the bus (which was about to come 10 minutes later) and made it down the 3.5 km of gentle slope going to the next bus stop with the remainder of strength in my legs. It turns out I got to the bus stop before the bus which so many people were waiting for and when I got in it was already crowded (usually the bus starts from 蓑毛 and there is no problem to sit).
Another 10 or more hikers rode the bus and after a few minutes when a "normal" person intended to casual ride the bus to the station he was faced with 50 hikers all in sweat from a day's effort with backpacks and all and had less space even than in the yamanote line on a Saturday evening.
Overall this hike is quite a challenge. In terms of scenery clearly Yabitsu -> Tonodake is the best, it is also slightly more technical than the rest. The North ridge (Nagao ridge) turned out to be disappointing. Tsurumaki -> Ooyama is best suited for trail running but the last part has too many stairs.
24 hours after the facts, my calves are still threatening to explode at any minute… only a good hike (or a few days of daily commute with a 10 kg son in the baby carrier) can calm that.
More pictures here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xb3ou0x0zkzlfpz/I_-V5mAQsy
Most popular summit of the Tanzawa mountains.
Best climbed in winter.