Ascent of Kaimon-dake on 2016-07-25
|Others in Party:||Sean "Run Bum" Blanton|
|Date:||Monday, July 25, 2016|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Elevation:||3031 ft / 923 m|
Ascent Trip ReportBirthday hike - it was decided the night before we would get down and do Kaimon-dake, it being the nearest interesting peak to Kagoshima and accessible by rail. We would have liked to scale Sakurajima, but it's prohibited to climb, due to how active the volcano is.
4:30am left hostel in Kagoshima to train station to take 4:50am train from Kagoshima to Yamagawa to change trains to get to Kaimon.
The train ride was quite spectacular, with the sun rising at 5am over the bay lighting up Sakurajima. It's interesting on board these regional trains in Japan - they're fairly old, but operate on very timely schedules. You couldn't do this in the US. It was a 1h45m journey to get to Kaimon, where we arrived at 6:40am. The train seemed to stop in the middle of nowhere at the bottom of the inactive stratovolcano, Kaimondake. We found a local convenience store that was just opening for a quick bite for breakfast (rice balls). We each carried two water bottles after chugging one each. It was a 3 mile one-way out-and-back hike to the summit, and it was HOT. Even at 7am, it was about 80 degrees and humid like none other. The humidity was over-bearing, making us sweat like crazy in the approach to the trail head. Sean and I were run/hiking at a pretty good pace, drenched in sweat being chased by hornets the whole first 2 miles.
The hike is totally in the shade in the trees, thankfully. There are 2 different view points along the way which give pretty spectacular views of the landscape and the ocean. Finally, you hit a view point where the hike starts to involve more climbing right afterwards. This was a lot of fun, grabbing roots, jumping from rock to rock. Soon enough, we were at the summit, both out of water, and there was just enough break in the cloud (which was hovering over the summit all morning), to experience the epic views.
Coming down, we ran the majority of the way - a lot of heavy stepping, since it's a fairly steep climb. We saw one other lady on the ascent and she was now at the first view point. Nice lady from Tokyo - she must have started around 5am we guessed. She was covered from head to toe in clothing, gloves, hat and all... Sean and I were in our running shorts.
As we approached the bottom of the mountain, a few small groups of families were taking a hike up. Everyone was laughing as we passed by and said our "Konichiwas" and "Arigatos". I've never been on a hike where everyone I passed was literally laughing. So fun. Up and down in about 2h30m.
We returned to the convenience store to chug some water and eat some ramen. The lady in the store let us eat right in the shop which was kind of funny.
Kaimon-dake is a cool volcano that dominates the landscape of the far south of Kyushu. The return journey to Kagoshima was fairly long, as we had to take a bus instead of a train to get to Yamagawa. We only got back to Kagoshima around 3:30pm. 6 hours of travel to do a 2.5 hour hike. Worth it though. We stayed at the Green Guest House near the station. Fun place with a friendly staff. Later that night we went to the Izakaya spot and feasted on a lot of really good food. On returning to the hostel, Sakurajima was going off, shooting a giant ash cloud from the top, blacking out the near full moon. It felt like it was putting on a show for everyone. And it was especially cool since it was on my birthday.
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