Sayonara Japan, Hello Alaska!

Asahidake, the tallest peak in Daisetsuzan National Park, spewing sulfurous steam from its volcanic vents.
Asahidake, the tallest peak in Daisetsuzan National Park, spewing sulfurous steam from its volcanic vents.

Tomorrow, we leave Japan.  We’re not entirely thrilled about this.  It will be nice to get back to Alaska, of course, and we are very excited to see the Aleutians, but first we have to get there.  That could well be the hardest sailing of our trip.  And then, once we do get there, we probably have to go back to doing normal things, like working.  That’s much less fun than being an instant celebrity everywhere you go.  I mean, old ladies have just been handing Rob (that’s “Bobu” in Japanese–no one can say “Rob”) cookies all week.  And tea, and coffee.  Every time he comes back to the boat he has a new collection of treats.  Tonight we have visitors at 6:00, and before we leave at 9:00 tomorrow morning, we have a traditional tea ceremony and a formal farewell on the agenda.  We are not this popular at home.

Asahidake ridge low res

Alpine flowers in the fog low res

We settled on Daisetsuzan for our last hurrah, and spent a few days hiking among the volcanic peaks of Japan’s largest national park, trying to give our legs a good stretcher before they sit on the boat for two weeks.  We set out to hike up Asahidake, the tallest peak in the park, on a gorgeous day, but the fog set in on our second day out.  The fog seemed pretty content to stay put, so we decided, after another couple of days of trundling along in the fog, that it might be more fun to turn around and go soak in the remote hot springs on the topo map.  We were rewarded for the choice.  As soon as we dropped a couple hundred feet, we fell out of the cloud and into a beautiful, sunny day, with a steamy pool next to a clear, mountain stream.  Luxury.

 

This is the number one Japanese tourism photo pose.  When expertly executed, two young ladies would jump simultaneously, at opposing angles, and the photographer would snap the shot as their feet are just off the ground.  We didn't have enough models.
This is the number one Japanese tourism photo pose. When expertly executed, two young ladies would jump simultaneously, at opposing angles, and the photographer would snap the shot as their feet are just off the ground. We didn’t have enough models.
Sugoi pose number 2, more popular with males, though usually executed with more exuberance.  Sugoi, usually shouted at the top of peaks, means, "Great, awesome, beautiful, amazing, rad, phat az..."
Sugoi pose number 2, more popular with males, though usually executed with more exuberance. Sugoi, usually shouted at the top of peaks, means, “Great, awesome, beautiful, amazing, rad, phat az…”

But, it’s time to go.   It’s firmly summer now and we need to make use of the rest of it to make our way through the Aleutians.  With an average of 341 days of measurable precipitation, 173 days of fog (July is the foggiest month), and an all-time record high temperature of 75 degrees, how can it be anything but fantastic in the Aleutians?

Dropping out of the fog
Dropping out of the fog
And into the hot springs
And into the hot springs

Should take us about two weeks to get to Attu, so it’s just us, the whales, the sea lions, and the fog until we get there.  Next time you hear from us, it will come from the radio, so I apologize in advance for the unformatted text and lack of photos.   Think calm, gentle breezes for us.

Alpine flowers
Alpine flowers
Below Asahidake
Below Asahidake

 

One thought on “Sayonara Japan, Hello Alaska!”

  1. Kate: Just got your note at the office & have now checked out your blog. AMAZING! What a trip. Instead of a job, why don’t you write a book? Can’t wait to see more. Have a safe journey home. Big Hugs from Reno.

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