Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mt. Aso, Day 1

Day 1: On the first day we were there we wasted no time visiting the top of the mountain to see the craters. Our host did not recommend hiking to the top as the trail is labelled "difficult." Instead he drove us to a neighboring train station where we caught a bus to the top of the mountain.

Trying to finish Wise Man's Fear
Dustin has been trying very hard to finish his book so he read for most of the bus ride. I couldn't keep my eyes off the mountains, flowers, and a few straggling cherry blossoms.

Welcome Center/ Bus Station/ Bottom of Ropeway
The bus dropped us off at about halfway up the mountain. There is a welcome center with ice cream and local gifts. It also is the starting point of a ropeway. We decided not to take the ropeway to the top of the crater. We were there to enjoy the trails! It was an overcast day, but the rain held off. So up the mountain we climbed.

Heading into the clouds

Brace against the wind!
The trail up the mountain is paved to the crater. We were the only people walking to the top. Most  took the ropeway or were taking taxis from the welcome center. It was very windy at the top of the mountain by the crater. The clouds were blowing through so quickly that it felt like rain on my cheeks.

Closed Area
Mt Aso has many craters that have developed over the years. The volcano is still active and often parts of the observing area are closed. In the above picture there is a huge crater on the other side of the small hill. Unfortunately when we visited the area was closed because of poisonous gases.

At the top of the crater - in a cloud
We stayed at the top for about an hour catching glimpses of the crater and sulfur lake in between clouds. Finally a big cloud rolled in that didn't seem to be moving. So we kept walking along the path.

At the top of the ropeway was a small stand selling chunks of sulfur and pumice stones. In the picture you can see the crater lake on a clear day.

"My, this is surprisingly heavy!"
Dustin really wanted some sulfur (I guess so he won't have to blame his toots on the dog!). We bought a small piece and a few pumice stones. The man running the shop gave me a free pumice stone. I'm guessing because I'm a tourist and not because I have scaly skin!

Thick clouds!
On the way back down we took a picture of Mt. Nakadake, the mountain we would climb on Day 2!

Mt. Nakadake

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