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Great Escapes Hiking Mitousan
(Entered May. 17, 2009)
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Mitousan (three heads mountain) is where Kumi and I decided to take our first planned hike together. it is also one of the more inaccessible hiking trails in Tokyo, lying deep in the mountains in the Okutama area on the border between Tokyo and Yamanashi prefectures, the nearest train station being more than an hour away by bus. Kumi and I decided to rent a car to get here (a Nissan Note, one step up from a March), which ended up being good in the sense that our schedules weren't dictated by a bus that comes only once an hour and stops running around 6pm, but bad in the sense that the traffic to and from Tokyo was seriously ill. However except for sitting around in traffic jams, the hiking part of the day was pretty good. Mitousan is located in a park-like area called 'Tomin no Mori', which means 'Tokyo Citizen's Forest'.
Although there were numerous paths to take, here's (roughly) the one we took.

mitousan map

We arrived at the trail entrance around 10:30am (despite leaving Tokyo at 7 in the morning) and began our acsent. The first hour or so the trail was dead easy, the path being lined with wood chips (felt like we were hamsters), and more people than you'd expect given the remoteness of the area.
This is an HDR shot of the first lookout (my first ever), taken without a tripod.

mitousan hike first view

There were a bunch of trails to choose from, but Kumi and I had lots of time so we decided to take the longest and hardest trail. It ended up being a good move because everyone else took the easier ones.
We came across a large, sturdy bridge which spanned a gorge, but had no exit on the other side. It seems it was built for the sole purpose of walking out and getting a good look this scenic waterfall. Now I know where my city tax yen is going.
HDR again, but perhaps a bit strange looking due to the fact that the water is moving.

mitousan hike waterfall

A good start to the day, right near the beginning of the trail beside a small creek, I saw a snake, maybe the first snake I've ever seen in Japan. He moved away too fast for me to get a shot of him.
Another HDR shot. A bit unnatural looking this time. Maybe I should've used my tripod.

mitousan hike mike creek

Although the trail from here was was fairly steep and the climbing hard (for beginners like us), the air was fresh and cool, and we rarely came across other people. From here on the climb was peaceful and pretty uneventful.
At one point in its growth, this was a very confused tree...

mitousan hike bent tree

My camera was out a lot of the time, but to be honest I didn't take many pictures as the scenery didn't change much, and there were very few lookouts, even at the top.
Here I am at the peak after about a two hour hike. The remaining pictures are not HDR.

mitousan hike peak

We decended on a different trail, and at one point our trail map indicated a bird watching house/blind down a very steep side path. We arrived and found it full of screaming kids. Needless to say, there were no birds around for me to photograph....
Kumi finds it hard to stop when running down the path.

mitousan hike kumi

Kumi and I sitting at one of the few lookouts. The afternoon was very hazy, so there wasn't much of a view.
No HDR here obviously, I'm not sure if bracketing works while using the timer or not.

mitousan hike mike and kumi

We returned to our starting point at about 4 pm and though we both wanted to go to a nearby onsen, we decided to skip it as we had to have the car back by 8pm, and I was worried about how bad traffic might be. Skipping the onsen got us back at 7:30pm so it ended up being a smart, but regretable move.
Off to get more hiking gear now.



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