Near the steam vents on the west side of Mt Asahidake there’s a rest area that connects to the trail going up to the top of the mountain. I took a quick break here and then began my ascent.
A pair of ropes marks either side of the trail as you climb towards the top of Asahidake. The vegetation on the ground disappeared as I moved higher and soon it was just dirt, rocks, and scattered patches of snow. Along the trail other hikers had been creating piles of rocks and I added a rock of my own to each pile as I passed it by. There weren’t a ton of people climbing Asahidake that day but I’d say I saw at least fifty other people going up and down the mountain while I was there. Everyone was greeting each other as they passed each other by and I tried to always say hello in either English or Japanese as I came across other hikers. Although it was chilly even in the sun the physical exertion kept me plenty warm as I ascended higher and higher. At one point during the climb the air turned foul and I was wondering where the bad smell was coming from but then I looked down and realized I was now in the path of the exhaust from the steam vents at the base of the mountain. Thankfully once I got further along the trail the stench went away. The top of Asahidake had been clearly in view when I started my hike but as I was getting closer to it the clouds started to move in again. I was getting my first indication that my time on the mountain was running out.
My goal had never been to go all the way to the top of Asahidake since I wasn’t properly dressed for the occasion and instead I planned on just reaching a particular ridgeline before turning back around. Once I got to that ridgeline I stopped for a couple minutes to rest but while sitting on a large rock I noticed that the next ridgeline didn’t look that far away. I still had plenty of time in the day, so I decided I’d go higher up the mountain. Five minutes into my climb, however, the temperature dropped, the wind suddenly got strong, and thick clouds surrounded me. The break in the weather that I had been enjoying for the last few hours was now over and I knew it was time for me to get off the mountain.
I couldn’t see very far for most of the hike down the mountain but ropes on either side of the trail kept me on the right path. As I got down towards the rest area the clouds thinned out and the winds died down. My little adventure on the slopes of Mt Asahidake was finished but my time at Daisetsuzan wasn’t over just yet.