Friday, 17 October 2014

Guide to hiking Mt. Yotei for beginners


I did something crazy. I can't believe that I actually managed to hike Mt.Yotei, alone!

By all means I am not athletic at all, I'm just a little crazily determined.

Before taking on this crazy challenge, I actually did a lot of research online as this is my first hike up on such a high mountain! The reason I did it was not really because I'm a hiking fanatic but it's just because hiking Mt.Yotei is a 'must do' in Niseko especially during summer. I've been telling my colleagues about my plan to hike Mt.Yotei since June and my colleague advise me to do it during September when the weather's less hot and there's less flies (?). So I waited till September and planned to hike it with my friend but the weather was bad on that particular day so plan's off! In the end, I decided that it's either I'm gonna have to brace the cold and do it on October or I'll not have the chance to do it at all. I didn't wanna miss out on it since it'll be my last summer here, so I just did it!

I'm so glad I did it, it was really challenging but I wouldn't say it's an impossible feat. If a beginner like me could do it, a beginner like you could do it too!


5 Tips before the hike:
1. Check the types of trail & weather 
Big thanks to 360Niseko for their detailed Yotei trails explanation!
I had a hard time deciding between Hangetsu Trail (Most difficult) or Makkari Trail (Easier). Eventually decided on Hangetsu because taxi fare would be cheaper (Saving money is more important for me)

Click for Hangetsu / Makkari / Kimobetsu / Kyogoku & Mt.Yotei Hut

THIS weather forecast website is the best in my opinion, you could see at what time will the temperature be and such. I planned a week ahead by referring to this website and thankfully it was a sunny day on my particular off day.

2. Plan on what to wear
A good hiking shoe is important! If it's a newly bought shoe please wear it around first before hiking as you wouldn't want blistered feet during the hike! Since it's autumn and I planned to hike early in the morning, the weather was freezing. I wore 3 tops and just 1 legging. During the hike it was okay but I couldn't stay at the peak for more than 20 minutes. Make sure to bring extra clothes if you are planning to circle the Mt.Yotei crater.



(Top left) I wore a Forever 21 Athletic top similar as shown. 
(Top right) Wore the exact shown Forever 21 Sports legging / pants. 
(Bottom left) Layer with Uniqlo Basic Gray Hoodie similar as shown. 
(Bottom right) Finish off with a black waterproof jacket similar as shown.  

3. Buy or prepare food
It'll be a minimum of 6 hours hike so bring enough food to keep you going. I bought 2 onigiri from the convenience store the night before.

4. Inform others that you'll be doing the hike
Especially crucial if you do not have a mobile phone that could make calls (Yes I don't and can't make calls). I would encourage you to inform others even if you are planning to hike with 10 other people. Really, you may never know what might happen.

5. Get enough sleep
I went to bed at 9pm the night before so I could wake up at 4am. I should have slept earlier than that but I had some last minute preparation to do. Well, please get as much sleep as you can.

- - - - -



5 Tips on what to bring:
1. Sufficient water in separate bottles
I brought 1.5 litres of water but only drank 1 litre. It's okay to bring more water than risk being dehydrated. I usually don't drink much water so 1 litre was enough for me. If you are easily dehydrated, please bring more!
Also I brought 1 large bottle and 1 small bottle. Once I finish with the small bottle I simply fill it up from the large bottle. This provides easy access to the small bottle rather than yanking out the large bottle whenever you want a sip.

2. Bring an extra jacket / pants, gloves, socks
Bring light weight jacket or pants if you have space. I learnt the hard way by freezing at the peak.
Socks was a just-in-case thing. I wore gloves just for 30 minutes at the beginning of the hike.

3. Trekking pole(s) 
I brought my skiing pole instead, hey, get whatever pole you can find will do. I didn't use it for my ascend but I used it all the way for my descend. I can't stress enough on how important and useful the pole were for me. I slipped once during my descend but would be worse if I didn't have my pole. I might as well slip all the way down!

4. Band aid / Medical tape / Other necessary medication
In case of emergency, bring it. It's not even heavy.

5. Money & ID card
Again, just in case.

- - - - -

5 Tips during the hike:
1. If you're hiking alone, observe where the other trekkers go. 
I hiked a wrong way near the peak and good thing I spotted other hikers on another path so I found my way back. Should have waited a bit and followed other hikers instead of risking it.

2. Keep track of the time you started, reached the peak, arrive back at base
I recorded it in my Iphone Notes app. You could use the Stopwatch function but it will drain your battery.
Another way would be to save a screenshot of the time. I wanted to record the time I reached each marker so used the Notes app instead.

I missed a lot of markers though, oh well..

3. If you're bored, listen to songs. If you're anxious, calm yourself by listening to songs.
It definitely helped me during my descend as I was quite impatient on why haven't I reach the bottom already?! While during my ascend I was breathing so heavily I couldn't really hear the music clearly anyway.

4. Encourage yourself to keep pushing on.
I asked myself a lot during the hike on 'Why am I doing this????' 'Oh my gosh when am I ever reaching???' So, please calm yourself down and keep pushing on! I succeeded and I don't see why you can't!

5. Don't just keep your eyes on the ground. 
I banged my head twice because I was so focused on maneuvering my legs that I failed to avoid those tree branches. May I add it was once while ascending and once while descending. Look up (even when descending) once in a while. You might scare yourself silly if you suddenly realise someone is in front of you as hikers are descending.

- - - - -

Pictures time!


This is at the very beginning where the trail was nice and easy. I remembered I haven't even reach the first marker yet at that point.


Almost missed the first marker! This was taken when I arrived at a difficult section and was wondering where was the first marker, I looked back and saw it.


From first marker to the sixth! I missed a few marker and there were some people at certain marker so I passed on taking pictures.


Towards marker 7, you can notice some frost! So exciting!!


And it gets more and more!!


Thumbs up for comfy hiking shoe!



Arrived at marker 9! You could use the help of the ropes if needed.


Turn left for the peak and turn right for the hut.


Beautiful autumn meeting winter.




Finally!!!


Perfect weather indeed, no fog and no clouds to block the amazing view.


Fanciest lunch location I've every had! Munching on my onigiri at the peak of the mountain~



Guys don't forget to jot down your details before the hike and after the hike at this little booth. You won't miss it but you might miss it if sky's still dark. Side note: I used the leftover gloves in the booth, so thankful for whoever that left it there, I returned the gloves after I arrived and hope it'll help someone else like it did to me!

- - - - -

Before the hike, I was worried that I'll be the only one there. But there were other people there too (Less than 10) so I was so so glad. Would say majority of hikers would prefer to start the hike sometime around 7am. But I wanted to avoid the sun so I went as early as I could.

Besides worrying whether I could actually complete the hike or not, I was quite worried if I needed to take bathroom breaks. There's no bushes for me to do my business! Thankfully I didn't need to use the bathroom at all.

I guess the hardest part of it all was to actually decide to do this hike. I took months to plan and even though I had no companion and my friend was advising me not to do this hike, I did it anyway. I'm so glad I safely completed the hike!

Hiking Time Frame:
5:30am - Started
6.00am - Marker 2 (Forgot to record Marker 1 & many more as you read on)
6.18am - Marker 3
6.56am - Marker 5
7.15am - First sight of someone descending
7.19am - Marker 6
7.45am - Marker 7
8.26am - Marker 9
9.00am - Peak
9.19am - Left peak
9.52am - Marker 8
12.19am - Arrived at base (I missed the rest of the marker and was too tired to record too)

I took 3.5 hours up and 3 hours down.
I could descend faster but I didn't wanna hurt my knee and ankle so I took my time and I'm glad I did.

Well, this sums up my longest post ever! This hike could possibly be the most challenging and extreme thing I've done in my life!

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