Sunday, March 26, 2006

White Mountains and Blue Sky

These mountains are part of the Shokanbetsu range, a wilderness area between the Japan Sea and the Sorachi valley in Western Hokkaido. The coast on the other side of the peaks is empty apart from some scattered fishing villages hidden in coves along tiny streams, where it's possible to buy fresh fish right off the docks and camp on empty beaches in the shadow of wave beaten cliffs, then get up early the next morning and hike up to blazing snowfields for ocean views and backcountry skiing. Shokanbetsu isn't as dramatic as Daisetuzan Park or the Shiretoko Peninsula, but since the trailheads are only 90 minutes from Sapporo along the coast road, I'm surprised that it's not more well-known. The best pockets of wilderness, it seems, are sometimes just beyond our own backyards.


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