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Daisetsuzan: Peak Colors

After yesterday's visit to Mount Asahidake, I spent another day in the Daisetsuzan Mountains and approached the spacious national park from the opposite direction today. I made my way to Ginsendai and hiked to the summit of Mount Akadake, one of Daisetsuzan's many peaks.

Ginsendai is one of several entrance points into the Daisetsuzan Mountains and the trailhead for the hike to Mount Akadake. In autumn, it is best known for a wide mountain slope that changes into spectacular, seasonal colors around mid to late September.


Peak Color

Ginsendai is accessible via a narrow, unpaved mountain road that gets closed to private car traffic during the peak of the autumn color season (until September 22 this year). Shuttle buses from a temporary parking lot at the shore of Lake Taisetsuko have to be used during the closure. Furthermore, there are infrequent buses from Sounkyo Onsen to Ginsendai until September 30, 2016.

Shuttle buses that operate between the temporary Lakesite parking lot and Ginsendai
Bus ride to Ginsendai

Today, the colors along Ginsedai's famous slope were at their peak, and I expect them to remain nice through the rest of the month unless they get covered up by snow. The colorful slope can be reached in about a 15-20 minute walk from the bus stop. Quite a few people, including passengers of multiple tour buses (which are also allowed to drive up to Ginsendai), ventured only as far as the colorful mountain slope before returning to the bus stop.

Green colors around the trailhead to Mount Akadake
But a few steps later, the colorful slope comes into sight
The colors are provided mainly by nanakamado bushes
From above
View onto the surrounding mountains

Others, including myself, continued hiking beyond the colorful slope towards the peak of Mount Akadake. According to the hiking map I received, the ascent is supposed to take 3.5 hours; however, hikers in good physical shape are likley to complete it in considerably less time. The colors along the upper section of the hiking trail were not as brilliant, and I doubt that they will be improving much from now. But the beautiful scenery made the ascent to the summit worthwhile, nevertheless.

The trail leads past a field of chinguruma plants
What is left of the chinguruma flowers
A field of urashima tsutsuji plants
Colorful urashima tsutsuji
A great day for hiking
The colors in the higher elevations were more subdued
Some of the more colorful nanakamado bushes near the peak
The second last and most tiring slope before reaching the summit
Towards the sky
Second last slope seen from above
Reaching the summit of Mount Akadake
Views into the interior of the Daisetsuzan Mountains
Known in Ainu language as "the playland of the Gods"