Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan trip — DAY 2

December 31, 2006 · Print This Article

All the ingredients for a near ideal time were there: setting off solo onto unknown paths, few to no people around, interesting natural phenomena to check out and one better than expected find.

Early on the paths a few people were wandering, including one Korean guy who asked me to take a photo of him with his Nikon D50. … , but I said, “well, have a nice day” and made haste down a snowy & icy path in my trusty Salomon GCS GTX’s which he could not match in his smooth soled generic Puma’s. … I don’t usually interfere in the natural order of things, but I thought to myself this creature should not meet its fate from the bottom of some lesser sighted human, so I picked him up with a twig and placed him on a grassy patch on a bank, where I thought it could burrow into the ground and warmth easier as well.

…On warmer days the parking lot next to it suggests it could be a crowded place, but the road was closed for winter and I was the only visitor. … I was briefly trespassed against by a young Japanese couple, who of course asked me to take their photo for them, but they at least had the respect not to linger there. … The sulphur smell was mild, barely tickling my nostrils, but enough to remind me of home (Florida) where reverses-osmosis water treatment is common, a process that requires sulphur.

Walking up and away from the lake I actually felt a bit chilled myself, and thought if I should stop and put on my warmest base and mid-layers, but once up and around the bend I warmed again. I had noticed on one of my maps a photo of two people dipping there feet in a creek of warm spring water. … Striding down a small valley with a creek at the bottom I soon found the spot I saw in the photo earlier and it was much better than I even hoped for. … First I walked in a shallow part, just up to the bottom of my ankle, but then rolled up my pants past the kneed and waded into a pool with a small waterfall. Here the bed of the creek was totally sandy, but as I dug my toes into it, I quickly found out that a mere inch under the surface the sand is too hot for bare toes.

…The rock wall next to the waterfall formed almost a perfect natural seat, albeit a slime-covered one, so I just went and got my rain cover and sat for awhile dangling my legs in the warm sulphur water, sometimes daring to dig into the hot sand, letting the sounds of the rushing water remove me from time.

…Leaving this natural hot spring area, at the head of the trail two Japanese boys were approaching, I encouraged them to go down and try the “foot bath” as they translated what the sign said that I couldn’t read at all. Starting to head back now I saw two young boys walking by themselves and wondered if there really was no parent around. They continued on past me, one boy saying konichiwa, which I said back to him, and then I saw there was a parent, a father going the wrong way.

…I will now head to a shrine, solo, as this is customary to do on New Year’s Even in Japan.

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