Subashiri Trail 5th Station
Time: 9am Elevation: 2,000m
Our fantastic band of hikers made it to the 5th Station around 9am. It’s definitely different than the Subaru Line 5th Station I visited last year; this one consisted of a small parking lot, a couple of bathrooms, a small souvenir shop/restaurant, and a covered eating area. It was also much less packed. The Subaru Station is the starting point of the Yoshida Trail, the most popular trail to the top, and has tons of stuff to do; it attracts lots of tourists along with hikers.
We stood around, tied our hiking boots, took ‘before’ pictures, and goofed off for about an hour so our bodies could adjust to the elevation. There were a couple of bathrooms too, but they cost ￥200 to use. A foreshadowing of things to come.
The first part of the trail was through the forest. It was green and cloudy, and that along with the black rocks and soil made for a beautiful start to our hike! Eventually, the trees thinned, and we were surrounded by volcanic rocks, clouds, and low-growing plants. In the distance we could see a carp streamer: the new 6th station! Lunch!
Lunch consisted of semi-squished, homemade onigiri and a gel energy pack. There was food for sale at the station, but it was pretty expensive so we passed. On to the old 6th station…
and a new friend!
From here on out, there were more volcanic rocks than plants. During one of our many breaks as we slowly pushed on towards the new 7th station, an American tour guide passed our group. One of my group members asked him how many times he’d climbed the mountain:
Guide: Hmm…. Do you mean like ever or this season? Maybe a couple hundred times?
Group: Oh, uh… You do this every season? What do you do outside of climbing season?
Guide: I work up in Nagano Prefecture.
*Whole group looks at me*
Me: No way! Nagano City?
Guide: Actually, up in uh, Shinano-machi.
*Whole group starts freaking out*
Me: Whaaaaa?! That’s where I live!
What are the odds that you’d find another person from your tiny town on the tallest mountain in Japan? What the heck.
Eventually, we made it up to the old 7th station.
Must say, not a fan of this one. Can’t quite put it my finger on it. Maybe it was because for some inexplicable reason, the toilets here were ￥500?! This sign did help make up for it though:
Ugh, so tired. We were all feeling it by this point, and the trail was getting a bit more congested with tour groups. We only had a little bit to go though; our lodging was at the next station, the new 7th. On our way, we passed a couple of people clearly suffering from altitude sickness, doubled over and taking deep breaths from bottled oxygen. Luckily, we were fine.
We made it!
We were lodged at a newer building that had a 20 person capacity. When we entered, it smelled like fresh wood. There were two bunks which could each hold 10 people. Each pair of people had to share a futon with one other person, so it was a bit tight!
Everyone clambered up onto the bunks, then worked on sorting our backpacks and planning for our summit adventure the next day. We expected it to be cold in the morning, so all of our warm clothing needed to be at the top of our backpacks so we could run outside, get dressed, and push on. After that, we stored our backpacks on shelves above the beds and waited for what seemed like forever until dinner — curry and rice!
Dinner was good; it was nice and hot. It also came with a small bit of macaroni salad and green tea. The portion didn’t look like a lot, but I was full by the time I was done. When we left to go back into our sleeping quarters, we were greeted by this wonderful view.
Time to go to bed!
To read the second part of this series, the ‘Summit Shuffle,’ click here!
Subashiri Trail Station 7.5
Time: 8pm Elevation: 3,200m
Time to reach lodging: 11 hours
Elevation change: +1,200m
Distance hiked: ~6km