The North Alps -
The rain was lashing down and I was half tempted
to stay in the lodge for the day. However the lodge keepers seemed
to have a well established routine and I got the impression that
they liked to get hikers out and away a.s.a.p. Everybody else had
gone and I was the only one left, so I decided to don my wet gear
and to head for Sugonorikoshi Lodge, which should have been 5 to
6 hours hiking. The trail leaves Goshikigahara Sanso on walking
logs as it climbs through low pine bushes towards Tonbisan at 2,616m.
Approaching the lodge at last!
After that it is a long ridge climb to the top of
Etsuchuzawadake at 2,591m. From here, if the weather is clear, it
is possible to see both lodges…… the one you have just
left, Goshikigahara Sanso, and the destination lodge of Sugonorikoshi
Goya. But don’t be deceived, it is a long way to Sugonorikoshi
Goya with many ups and downs and false peaks! After descending from
Etsuchuzawadake, a smaller peak of Sugo-no-Kashira is reached at
2,431 m and the lodge looks tantalisingly close from here. The rain
and the wind had by now worsened and I was going quite slow with
the heavy pack that I was carrying. I stopped to change my top as
I was beginning to get cold, and then pressed on to the lodge. The
last stretch was exasperating with the false peaks and ups and downs,
and when I eventually got to Sugonorikoshi Campsite I could not
find the lodge! You are actually walking in bush and bamboo around
8 foot high at this point and it is difficult to see where the lodge
is. I was feeling rather tired and this was the last thing that
I needed! I finally made the lodge after 8 hours walking, and was
wet and tired! There was even water sloshing around in my boots,
and the breast pockets of my Goretex jacket had an inch of water
in each side. The left hand side had turned in to “Polo Mint
Soup” as a packet of Polo Mints had completely dissolved.
My digital camera was in the right hand side, and that was dripping
water! I stripped off all my wet clothes in the drying room, and
headed for the futon for an hour’s rest before dinner!
Sleeping quarters at Sugonorikoshi
Sugonorikoshi Goya was quite rustic to say the least.
It has a generator to provide electricity for a few hours a day,
but in the generator was switched off in the evening and oil lamps
were used. The sleeping area was in the roof space, and as the roof
was leaking in many places there were plastic containers strategically
placed to catch the drips. The place was run by a lodge keeper and
an assistant, and they were there on their own for the whole summer.
All food, materials and kerosene had to be flown in by helicopter
as the lodge was so remote. The lodge keeper told me that it was
difficult to offer good quality food as they did not have a refrigerator,
but he said that he would try to do a stew for me in the evening
(what actually came was the normal meal with two small pieces of
fried spam added!). But the lodge was warm and dry, a refuge from
the wind and driving rain outside, so I was more than happy!
"Shokudo" at Sugonorikohsi
The evening meal
There was only one other guest besides myself, and that was a lady
named Maeko who I had met earlier in the day on the trail. She was
actually carrying a tent and cooking gear in her rucksack, but as
the rain was so bad she had decided to stay in the lodge that night.
She was brilliant when I arrived at the lodge, getting all my wet
gear on to coat hangers for drying, and generally helping me.
The drying area
You have to change from your green slippers to the red slippers when going to the toilet......
the lines on the floor clearly designate the changeover zone!!!