Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park

Mount Ebinodake and Onami Pond.
From where I'm sitting in my hotel room, I see steam vents, and can smell their sulfurous fumes. Further in the distance, over 20 miles further in the haze, is the unmistakable cone of Sakurajima, the massive, active volcano across the bay from Kagoshima, southern Japan. At night, I see the distant glow of Kagoshima.

See My Kagoshima: Kirishima Volcanic Group Practicalities for specific details about accommodation, trail buses, and trails.

See my series of posts,  My Kagoshima, for details about how to get to Kagoshima Prefecture, then how to get to trails.

I didn't come here to stare out the window. I came here to explore the trails of Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park.

This morning, outside my hotel, I got on a hikers' bus that loops past some of the park's trailheads. Many of the trails are closed because of volcanic activity.

I chose a trail that first took me through a forest.
It was early enough in the day that muddy parts of the trail were still partly frozen and crunchy from the night and the elevation. But it was warm enough I did not need my jacket.

Occasionally, I would encounter another hiker, and we would exchange a cheery "konichiwa." Without exception, hikers were Japanese, properly geared for the trails, wearing hiking boots.

I branched off on a path that took me to the summit of Mount Ebinodake. From there, I took in the hazy view, picking out two caldera: one with steam rising, another housing a small lake.
The caldera with the lake, Onami Pond, was my next objective.

I climbed down towards the pond, and took a ridge trail along the rim of the caldera.
Finally, a short forest trail led to a point where I would catch the hikers' bus back to my hotel.

While waiting for the bus, I chatted with a guy from Nagoya I had met at the summit of Ebinodake. Like me, he had just visited Yakushima Island. When he got back to southern Kyushu, he climbed Kaimondake, a volcano I climbed in 2014.

As I got off the bus at my hotel we shook hands, then he said "see you again on some mountaintop."

Note: For information on how to get to Kirishima, see the following series of posts: My Kagoshima.

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