A solo trip report and a lesson learned...
Left on January 29th for one night.
Took the bus early morning from Okutama to Nippara.
Nippara bus station (has toilets and running water)
Weather forecast was 8*c (46F) and low of minus 1C (30F), but next day high was 16C (60F)?
I knew from a previous day hike around same elevation that there would be patches on the trail that would require snow shoes and brought them along with a 16kg (35 lbs) pack weight... I am very curious what other folks bear?
Start of the trail
Plan is to hit Mitsudokke, camp at Toridani, hit Tensan and return back to Nippara in a loop. Over the course of two days I'll hike up two peaks no higher than about 1,700m (5,500 ft) covering 26km (16 miles).
Past Mitsudokke and time to bring out the snowshoes
Pano view from a lookout
Sketchy bridge on the trail
After changing to crampons and then back to my boots, I finally hit the hut near Toridani.
There are many huts spaced around Okutama and are free to use. This one was relatively new and had reliable water and an outhouse.
Inside of the hut
The view from the outhouse with the door left open
This hut, usually like others, have spare blankets and reflectix pads you can borrow.
No one was there and had myself dinner
Headed up Toridani to setup camp
The low for the night did reach minus 1C. The occasional heavy gust of winds woke me up at times, but I slept comfortably for the rest of the night.
Day two was mostly uneventful... I saw some dears and even a rainbow made from the the high winds picking up the snow from the ground.
View of Kumotori, the highest peak in Tokyo at 6,617 ft.
The scramble up Tensan
A shrine up on the summit of Tensan
Another shrine left abandoned on the way down
Ok... Here's where my valuable lesson begins...
I should note that it was my first time hiking from Tensan on the way back to Nippara.
The trail from here on was hardly used and at most times, practically invisible because of the undisturbed snow and then fallen leaves. The small blazes were hard to see, too few and far between. Combined, I either had to backtrack or blaze my own trail.
And then I came upon this...
... that yellow dot says DANGER: STEEP SLOPE USE CAUTION. I knew about this and have crossed this type of terrain many times before. However, this time it was different: the trail was poorly marked, the path often disappears, and I was carrying a heavy load on my back (Mistake #1 - I should not have assumed a known trail would be well marked in the off season).
I lost the trail again and started walking right to left of my position to find it (Mistake #2 - I should have backtracked until I found the trail at this dangerous section).
I was getting tired as this was the last push back to Nippara and I slipped. Banged my knees and started sliding down the hill face down, feet first. I recalled slowing down before picking up some more speed again.
One of my first thoughts was Shug's video where his friend fell from great heights and I feared going over a cliff.
By the grace of God, I finally stopped. A fallen branch got tangled on my pack to slow me down and my feet found a stump.
My face was buried in dirt and had to dig out to breathe. Next, hoping my feet was on stable ground, I carefully managed to untangle myself. I finally was able to sit down, took big gulps of water, calmed my nerves and assessed my situation.
I was not fully lost (i knew which direction would lead me back to the road), I was not seriously injured and my gear seemed to be all there. The problem: I was stuck on the side of hill at at about 30* incline. I brought along a Delorme InReach and it was working. For a few minutes I thought of pressing the SOS button. Instead, I texted my wife I had a problem and was going to be late (Mistake #3?).
There was no way going up or down. But to my right about a bus length away, there were some rocks I could use to climb back up. I shortened my trekking poles and stuck them deep into the dirt and slowly crawled my way there. Using my last bit of energy, used the rocks and climbed up to safety. Thanked God one more time and took a long break.
From my new vantage, I finally saw the blaze and blessed my luck.
No photo of my ordeal but I was stuck on something like this taken around the same area (minus the frozen stream/waterfall?)
The view of frozen waterfall from the sweet road below my feet
The walk back on the road took 40 minutes and knees started to swell . I came across a few road workers and said my hellos but realized afterwards that my face was completely covered in dust, hair had bits of leaves, more dirt and rocks. Washed myself as much as I could while waiting for the bus. Got on the bus an hour and a half later than planned. I'm still cleaning all the gear from my spill but I'm grateful I'm able to report about it.