Two weeks after Schauwecker was in Daisetsuzan in central Hokkaido, I made my way to the Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido. Almost like the country's final frontier, the peninsula is best known for its wilderness and wildlife.
On this trip, I checked out the autumn colors at the various attractions in Shiretoko. I found that while the colors at the higher altitudes were almost at their best, it would still be a few more days before they reach the towns. For those who want to see autumn colors in the easternmost peninsula, I expect the following week to be the best period. Temperatures are dropping rapidly in Hokkaido, and the first snowfall of the season was recorded today at one of the mountain passes at an elevation of just over 1000 meters.
The Shiretoko Five Lakes is easily the most famous spot in Shiretoko Peninsula. Visitors to the lake area can choose between two choices, the free boardwalk or the paid nature trail. Depending on season, there are different types of nature trail walks available. I visited during the time when all I had to do was to attend a short ten minute lecture on bear awareness and pay a small fee of 250 yen before being let loose.
Unfortunately due to last month's typhoon, the bigger trail that circles all five lakes is closed until further notice. Visitors can only choose between the free boardwalk or the smaller trail that allows views of the first and second lakes. I found the colors here to be a day or two shy of their best. The grass surrounding the first lake was already golden yellow while flashes of color could be seen along the nature trail.
Not far from the Shiretoko Five Lakes is the Kamuiwakka Falls. The road to the falls branches off the main road and is a roughly ten kilometer dirt road all the way in. Kamuiwakka Falls is a unique waterfall where visitors can walk up easily and where the water temperatures are not freezing cold. I found the colors at the falls itself to have barely started while the colors along the way in were comparatively developed.
Moving on to Furepe Falls, not far from the town of Utoro, I found the colors here to be approaching their best. The fern had already turned brown and dried up, but the colors on the trees still had more room for improvement.
Shiretoko Pass was where I saw the most color this trip. The mountain pass connects the two towns in the peninsula-Utoro on the western side and Rausu on the eastern side-and was a joint collaboration between the two towns. The colors around the highest point were at their best, while the two ends could stand to develop more color.
My last stop for this trip was Kumagoe Falls, a small waterfall located not far from Rausu. It was a short hike with the round trip taking only 30 minutes from the entrance of the trail, or about an hour from the Rausu Visitor Center. The trail follows alongside a babbling brook before continuing upwards to the lookout point from where the waterfall can be seen. Centuries-old trees can be seen along the way as well as patches of autumn foilage. The colors here had just started and it will be a while before they reach their best.