Rausudake + Meakandake

Have you ever seen the Japanese alternative to campgrounds? While we were staying at a crowded autocamp site on the outskirts of Utoro, with kids running around making noise until late, the adult alternative was happening at the Michi-no-eki (roadside rest area) just a kilometre down the road. All sorts of vehicles from kei-jidosha converted for camping, to massive campervans/coaches were lined up in the carpark. The drivers had their chairs out, BBQ grills sizzling, folding bicycles at the ready, TVs tuned in, cool boxes stuffed with beer, and even portable showers. The only unwritten rule appeared to be no tents.

Upon arrival at the Rausu trailhead, cars and coaches were already disgorging hikers, so I quickly bundled the dog under my jacket and ran off into the woods before attracting attention. It was 4 am, and I was first up the trail on this fine morning.

Shiretoko Peninsula is a World Heritage Site, famous for its rugged nature and brown bears, the higuma. Signs warned of the danger and reported an encounter with a hiker just 3 weeks ago: “Bear spray strongly recommended. Make a noise on blind corners!” Soon thereafter, I heard unmistakable powerful grunting from a couple of hundred metres toward the river and found pawprints in the mud on the path. Apparently, when the matagi hunters of the olden days chanced upon a bear, their valiant hunting dogs would attack the bear, and by sacrificing themselves, give their master sufficient time to take aim or flee. I could not rely on Hana to do the same…

The risk at Meakandake is not the wildlife, but the raw active volcano that must be climbed.

4 thoughts on “Rausudake + Meakandake

  1. Did you run into any other foreigners at Mt. Rausu? I swear over half of the hikers I met on the day I climbed were not Japanese! I even ran into a group of people from India who were hiking in jeans and sneakers!

    It looks like the weather on Meakan was good as well. Did you do the loop down to Oneto lake or just a quick piston?

  2. Any ideas why there were so many foreigners there? All part of a tour group to hike the World Heritage Site, perhaps?

    Meakan was so hot (and in the afternoon) that the dog must have been wishing for bad weather again! Yes, we did just the quickest piston, not via the nicer Oneto loop. I look forward to reading and comparing your reports soon!

  3. Did you meet Goro the golden labrador from the Hostel near the start of the climb ? I met her half way up. She followed me to the top, and all the way back to Oneto Lake ! Shared my sandwiches and water with her. Apparently, she regularly goes up Meakan Dake.

  4. I did not see either the YH or a dog, but it must have been good for you to have company on the climb. Wonder how many times Goro has been up Meakan in total. The rocks are quite sharp for a large dog’s paws.

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