Erstes Yakushima Update/First Yakushima Update!

Deutsche Version:

Ich habe mich mal rangesetzt und die ersten beiden (von drei) Beiträge zusammengestellt, inklusive Bilder natürlich. Yakushima I und Yakushima II. Viel spass schonmal. Der dritte Beitrag wird noch folgen, da ich aber morgen nach Kirishima aufbreche (ich werde versuchen zu hitch hiken!), wird das noch ein paar Tage dauern. Ich will ein paar Tage campen und weiss nicht wie ich da Internet habe. Danach soll noch ein Beitrag zum Sakurajima folgen, der prinzipell vor Yakushima hätte folgen sollen, aber was solls^^. Von Kirishima hat man auch noch einen guten Blick auf den Vulkan, weshalb es nicht ganz aus der Reihe tanzt. Anschließend werde ich natürlich noch über Kirishima selbst berichten. Es bleibt also spannend und für mich anstrengend aufzuholen^^. Bis demnächst =).

English Version:

Part I – the first two days

You know, there are times when you just think: come on, I don’t have to follow every hype. So in the beginning, even before I went to Japan, I decided to not visit Yakushima. Not just because the ferry fare is quite expensive (cheapest roundtrip 8.900 Yen, which equals around 73€) and it is quite infamous for being one of the most wettest places on earth.
So I dropped the matter for quite some time and forgot about it. But as I came closer to Kagoshima, the gateway to Yakushima, the more it came back to my mind, mostly because of people who went there and told stories, but also because of hiro, one of my jap. friends who more or less made me consider traveling there. The final nail for the coffin but, were the people I met in the green guesthouse, and the photos they showed me. I was fixed on instantly. Wild, pure nature, in the most parts completely untouched and unchanged by man with the probably oldest trees on earth. I knew it was a call, a call of nature, and I couldn’t resist following it. It seduced me with it’s sweet flavour and breathtaking rainforest.
So I packed my backpack and went off to the port, said goodbye to my new won friends here at the Hostel (where I returned to after my expedition), and went off over the sea, to the Island. The ride took 4 hours and right as we saw the island, we came across flying fish, which were chased away by the ship. For me the first time seeing some. The omnious island rose up at the horizon as we came ever closer. Dark clouds covered this piece of earth, while the sky above the sea was clear. In the end the weather stayed good, and I had an awesome evening sky. And it should stay like this for the next days. I went to the nearby information center first to gather some information about the different tracks. Considering my ususal routine, I didn’t really gather many intel before I went there. But at least I bought a hiking map, which I would consider quite valuable for my purpose. However, the lady at the information spoke good english which made everything much easier. Next quest was to find an accomodation which was an easy task. The island does not have too many tourists around this time. So I decided to check into a YHA Hostel for 3.500 Yen a night, around double of what I paid in Kagoshima for a bed^^. But it was just for a night, and the manager also spoke very good english, which is worth much more :D.
It was around 1 pm as I reached the Hostel, and I needed to buy supplies for the next days. My plan was to spend around 5 days in the mountains, walk from north to south, throughout the island, and from Onoaida (small township in the south, halfway around the island (anticlockwise) back to Miyanoura, where my ferry departs for Kagoshima again.
1 hour, and around 3.600 Yen later I came back to the Hostel, packed my stuff and weighted my backpack, which was astonishingly 27 kg heavy^^. Usually way to much, but in the end I didn’t repack it. I already left some unneeded stuf in Kagoshima. Somehow I was confident enough to carry the load like a Sherpa up the mountains and survive this trip too^^. Ridiculous but it worked out :D. One grows with ones tasks^^.
One last thing had to be accomplished for the day. Every day at 6 pm there is a bell ringing at the local tempel. So I went there to discover that the visitors will do the deed. The bell was enormous, much bigger than my tiny self (check the photographs within the first Link in the German Version), and it was quite fun to ring it. Even the monks were pretty cool, so that we chatted for a while, even after my job was done^^. I promised to be back when I return from my quest!

With the next day, I set my alarm clock for 7 am and went off around 8. The weather was awesome, but also pretty hot, already at this early hour. Most people who come to the Island do the same route. They take the bus to the beginning of the Shiratani Track, a famous but easy one, and then move on to Mt. Miyanoura, the highest mountain in Kyushu (1.936 m), and walk either back or a bit further to catch the quite expensive Bus to Anbo in the east. In total two days, one night. I wanted to start at the road and walk my way up to the Shiratani (which’s beginning is at an elavation of about 800 m). It took me 3,5 hours, and halfway up, where the road ended it became tough, not just because I carried 27 kg on my back, but more because it was not a real track, but more dry creekbeds which needed to be followed^^. The track itself was well marked with pink ribbons, which I should encounter on the whole Island. So I couldn’t get lost, plus I had my map, which was helpfull to locate my position and estimate the time needed to arrive at my next destination. I even had to cross a river, which proved to be quite tricky. Heavy load and slippery rocks made it a tough task, but with some courage and bravery it was done splendidly^^. I was surprised by myself being able to cross the river with dry feet :D. Another reason why I chose this part to start, instead of taking the bus, was to avoid too many people and it worked out. I just met one jap. couple on this bit, but as I entered the Shiratani, there were people everywhere in huge groups, lead by guides. Remarkable was the amount of 60+ people. Many old japanese people do hiking and join hiking clubs, and they’re totally able to compete with the young ones. So, don’t be surprised if you encounter only old people on Yakushima^^. They’re probably fitter than you are :D. Everyone was quite captivated by my beautiful beard which flattered me^^. I have a weakness for people who like my beard, it’s quite uncommon in Germany (belive it or not!) but among japanese I am a star, and I kinda enjoy the attention :D. Alright, enough kidding.

Further on, the first huge and old Cedar trees came along my way, which left me speechless, but there were still more to see and come by. As I reached the Shiratani Hut (around 1 pm), I asked myself for an instance if I would like to stay here for the day, following the council of my inner skunk. But there were two decisive factors which let me fled this so called ‚hut‘. First it was horribly stinking after piss in the whole hut. Most likely because the toilets were included into the concrete building and didn’t have doors to be closed. Hence the big sleeping room took the smell of its surroundings^^. I cannot imagine someone actually sleeping there :D. Second was the amount of time still left for the day. I could still make it to the next, more promising, Hut, which was around 4 hours apart of my current location. So I refilled my water bottel and moved on. As I reached the summit the way lead down the mountains for about one hour, until I encountered rails in the midst of the forest. They were to be followed, and provided a wooden footpath in the middle of it. For one hour, walking on even ground, which is apparently the easiest but most boring way to hike^^. Reaching the next goal a longer break was overdue. considering the next steps which lead me all the way up the mountains again, it became a really long break^^. It was mostly following stairs upwards, but this exactly became torture to my legs. Shortly after I began ascending (the Hut was still around 1,5 hours away), my legs became crampy, not just once or twice, but every couple of steps. I could walk up for a minute but had to rest for another two. It was horrible and I didn’t make much of a progress. There were not many people either and somehow I whished to just sleep under one of the massive treeroots/stumps, which would have been easily done. But again, my ambition took the better of me, and slow but steady I moved on. I wouldn’t have believed it but in the end I reached Jomon Sugi, which is infamous for being the oldest tree of the island (and I would consider it as one of the oldest on earth) with an estimated age of 2.000 to 7.200 years! Quite amazing. From there on, it was just another horrible 200 m (or around 10 min) to the Hut, and I would be safe. It was a hard trip, but as I reached the Hut I noticed the lack of a water supply there. I suspected evil around so I asked someone for water supplies, but as I though I had to go back to Jomon Sugi^^. So I left my baggage, took my bottle and got myself some water…
In the end the Hut was almost full and I didn’t care to prepare dinner^^. I was just finished, utterly done for the day and hoped for a good long nap.

to be continued…

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