Saturday morning a couple friends and I headed to Mt. Takao for a nice fall hike.
Takao-san is a popular tourist spot with many booths, snack shops, places for nice photos, and a cable car that takes you down the mountain. Since it's November (aka peak tourist time because of the changing leaves) we decided to opt out of climbing Takao-san and instead hike up a neighbouring mountain -Jimba
We arrived at Takao station at around 8:00am and took a 30 minute bus to the base of Jimba. When we got off the bus I looked at the people around me and immediately noticed their legit hiking boots, hiking poles, fancy jackets and I thought to myself...oh boy. this is going to be a tough hike isn't it. *Japanese people do not mess around when it comes to hiking gear!
Now let me just tell you...the hike up to Jimba is not for the faint of heart. It is 1.5 hours straight up...mostly climbing up tree roots along the way. It is a beautiful trail, but it also feels like you are just walking the stairmaster at the gym and my legs were burning within the first 10 minutes! *side note since I know my mom will probably notice this: In Japanese there is no single "m" sound so the kanji technically reads "Jin-ba" with an "n" but when written in English and when pronounced it is said Jimba with an "m"!
When we finally reached the summit...we were greeted by some incredibly beautiful foliage!
Also...this view. I think I could have stayed here all day. I would go back just for this. no doubt.
AH! I don't think I've ever seen a real "fall" in my life...so this was quite the treat.
Now...hiking in Japan is quite the experience and the thing that really solidified the fact that I was in Japan and NOT the states was the SNACK STANDS! At the top of Jimba there were about three of these snack stands that served hot tea, miso soup, noodles, water, juice, snacks...anything you could dream of you could get. How amazing is that? I feel like most hikes in the states you're lucky if theres a water fountain at the top of a hike...and here we have a full on convenience store!
Quick snack break before heading off to our next endeavor... hiking to Mt. Takao. So, for those crazy hikers who just love long days on the road...this is the hike for you. Conveniently enough, Jimba mountain connects all the way to Mt. Takao. The trails are well marked and beautiful, but you just have to be willing and ready to hike up and down a few peaks for a grand total of 18km!! (AKA 11 MILES!!)
6km in or so my calves, knees, and feet were screaming at me! But I knew I had to press on...I heard there was icecream waiting for me on the other side...
This was one of the peaks on the way to Takao-san. This was a little over half way and we fuelled up on onigiri, apples, granola bars, admired that mans amazing pants, and then hit the trails again.
This cute couple was heating up rice and curry for lunch. I love the Japanese camping style!
This was the view for most of the latter half of the hike and the reason why I could hardly move this morning! What is even crazier is that the majority of the people I saw on the trail from Jimba to Takao were 40 years and up. A lady I befriended must have been around 70 years old...just taking a brisk 18KM STROLL THROUGH THE FOREST. Amazing.
WE FINALLY ARRIVED TO TAKAO-SAN AND I GOT MY GRAPE ICECREAM. This was a lifesaver. After more than 5 hours of hiking I was running really low on energy and this grape deliciousness totally revived me! I got a pep in my step and was able to enjoy the surrounds of Takao and all the lovely couples on their dates haha.
AHHH...alas...around 5:00pm I finally was on the bus back home. I picked up this cafe latte from the vending machine and let me tell you folks - It comes hot! Yep. How beautiful is that. With that hot cafe latte in hand and my butt in a seat I was so so thankful to the good Lord for getting me through that insane hike!
Despite the pure exhaustion I felt after all of it...and the pain my legs will be feeling for the next week or so...my head hit the pillow that night and I was happy as a clam, already dreaming up my next outdoor adventure.
My advice on anyone wanting to hike Takao or Jimba : hike Jimba. The views are incredible. Takao is far too touristy and I don't want to sound like a hiking snob...but the crowds really do take away from the essence and beauty of nature. That view atop Jimba is worth it completely. Just make sure you are okay walking up 200 flights of stairs.