Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Trip Up Hakkoda

We had an Elders' Quorum Snowshoe expedition today. We went snowshoeing up in the Hakkoda mountains. (As you look at the Japanese characters for Hakkoda - 八甲田 - the first kanji is the number eight. Hakkoda is basically a range of eight mountains offering an extensive area for getting deep into the heart of the backcountry.) It was about a 2 hour drive from Misawa. Join me on the recreation of the trip (as in new create not recreation as in exercise, though they both can apply.

This is the beginning on the trail, which is marked by small signs in the trees. We drove up the mountain to the trail head where the snow banks on the side of the road was about 5 feet high.
Four minutes after beginning, I became worried as I was already winded and way too hot. After shedding a layer, (it is really hard to know how much to wear when it can be -40 degree and yet you'll be sweating), I felt better yet still winded. After trudging through the wicked nice powder for about a mile we crossed into a ravine/river bed (no sign of the water 20 feet below except a nice sulfur smell). We then proceeded up this ravine for the next mileish. It stayed powdery for a while then became crunchy and finally icy until we reached the top. These trees were covered in the iciest, hardest snow I've ever seen. The top was a ridge between two of the Hakkoda peaks. Once at the top we traversed another 200 yards to a cabin, the destination. This cabin, I guess, it owned by the government and can be used anytime by anyone. You just show up. We meet our scout troop there, who had come up the day before.

This cabin was crazy. It sits on what looked like a 6 foot high slab of concrete. You climb in at the top (due to the vast depth of snow) through this little doorway and immediately climb down a latter into the cabin. There is one room with three levels of deep long shelves for sleeping. In the middle is an open area for kerosene heater etc. Cool place, but not the type of cabin you'd find in Park City.

It was a very beautiful place, especially in the forest with a little snow fall. At the top are these trees covered with snow. These are the same trees as the ones at the bottom, just buried with 15-20 feet of snow. They call them "Snow Monsters."
After eating lunch he headed back down. It had already snowed so much that I wasn't sure we we on the same trail on the way back. Glad I wasn't leading the way! It took us a little under 2 hours to hike up and 50 minutes to get back down!! On the way down the ravine we were blasted by a bone chilling wind sweeping up the ravine. Thanks to Em, I was outfitted with a warm face mask. I just need some warmer gloves. Also, note to self: You may think a camel pack is a good idea, but after 20 minutes I found nothing but ice in the line!


Mrs. Dub said...

Wow - it looks like my worst nightmare, but I'm glad you had a good time. I prefer my casserole-heavy, indoor RS gatherings. (Minus the casseroles, really.)

FOX said...


The Jonas Family said...

wow, what an adventure! But not that I would ever do it.

Foot Handle Pete said...

That looks really fun. Wish I could have gone with you. Glad that you are adventurous and do stuff like that. Glad that you didn't get lost and freeze to death.

Aaron Nolan said...

You are nuts, Doug. It's all fun and games until you get stuck at the top of the mountain and have to decide which one of you will serve as food for the others. As long as you didn't have any Romanians in your group, you should be pretty safe though.