Hakuba Tsugaike Kogen (白馬栂池高原)
3rd visit. In previous visits did not complete the full loop due to poor visibility.
Timing – early Oct.
Took gondola to top station @1900m and started hiking. There were facilities before the mountain gate like cafeteria, washroom, visitor info. But once inside, there were only two makeshift toilets about midway uphill. Clouds were covering the mountain tops while fall foliage was past peak. Took about 2hrs to reach the top observation deck @2100m. The deck was fully filled with many hikers. On clear days the Mt Shirouma-dake could be seen. On the return trail, spotted the Tsugaike downhill in deep blue. Took nearly 5hrs back to the mountain gate, including photo time and a break on the deck.
Hakuba Happo-ike (白馬八方池)
2nd visit. Last visit was in Aug 2001, but the Mt Shirouma-dake was shrouded by clouds.
Took gondola and changed ski lifts to top @1800m and started hiking. It looked cloudy downhill but up there the sky cleared up due to strong wind. There were many hikers along the way. Took about 1hr+ to reach Happo-ike @2000m+. So glad that finally the 3 summits of Mt Shirouma-dake of nearly 3000m revealed themselves from fast-moving clouds across the horizon of Happo-ike. Took a break and chatted with 2 locals who were from Yokohama. Returned back downhill and visited a Jinja with 2 huge Sugi of 1000 years old.