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I'm planning a trip to Japan and I'd like to spend one week immerse in Japanese nature. I've read something about the "Daisetsuzan Grand Traverse", which is a 5 days and 55km trekking on a route that connects the Asahi-dake and the Tokachi-dake. I don't usually go for trekking in my home country, even if I enjoy doing it from time to time, so I'm wondering if anyone did that and can actually tell how difficult could be for someone who is not even an amateur trekker (I'm in not in a bad shape, tho). If you also have any other alternative route that you enjoyed feel free to share!

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    I don't know the track, but twith the information you gave we can make some calculations: 55Km / 5 days - that's an average of ~11Km a day. You can consider that you walk at 4Km / hour so that's about 2h45min aprox. / day walking. That's not much but you can evaluate your physical condition much better. Of course many other factor like the terrain, weight you carry etc. make a difference. – nsn Apr 16 '13 at 19:22
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    @nsn : yeah, that's exactly what I thought at first, but my guide says you are suppose to walk like 8h/day so I'm kind of curious to know if it is actually true or they are overestimating it for the worst scenario. Last time I did an estimation like yours (ignoring the terrain factor) I ended up in a bike tour in Tuscany doing 50km/day of costant up and down because of hills without any proper bike training. I was about to die :D – Geeo Apr 16 '13 at 19:28
  • I think it is highly subjective what kind of trekking you are able to do or not. What "Not in bad shape" constitutes is very relative. Hiking in Hong Kong for example is easy for some, but the humidity and heat kills a lot of people that have no problems else where. Same goes for places in high locations. – uncovery Apr 17 '13 at 1:55
  • It is subjective, obviously, but what I'm looking for are advices from people who did it so that I can evaluate myself if I can do it or not. I don't expect anyone to tell me what I can / cannot do. – Geeo Apr 17 '13 at 7:02
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I'm not brilliantly positioned to answer this, but since nobody else has...

So I walked a small section of the route back in 2000 or so (Sounkyo Onsen to Kurodake and back) as a day trip, just enough to realize that it's a pretty "serious" national park and you'll want to be well prepared for a serious hike:

enter image description here

As you can see, the problem is not that it's 55 km long, it's that you're going up and down and up and down in the mountains, exposed to the wind, rain, snow and ice (there's no forest cover on the plateau) -- the picture above is the view from Kurodake on a relatively warm late summer day! So if you have no previous experience, I'd hook up with somebody else or try out a shorter section of the route. Asahidake to Kurodake can be done in two days with lodging en route, so you don't need to carry a tent etc.

This guide looks rather useful: http://www.idioimagers.org/Daisetsuzan-guide.htm

And for what it's worth, his opinion is that 5 days for the full traverse is pushing it, and most people are better off budgeting 6 or even 7.

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    Thank you, this is exactly the kind of answer I was looking for. I'm gonna opt for a week in Miyakojima :D – Geeo Apr 25 '13 at 9:37
  • I'm pretty sure you won't regret that choice ;) – jpatokal Apr 25 '13 at 16:36
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I walked the whole thing (bottom Asahi-dake → valley down from Tokachi-dake). Here are the main difficulties:

  • The most difficult part was actually climbing Asahi-dake, because a part of the slope is muddy and slippery. When dry I guess it is easy.
  • There are also a few sections with a rope that you need to hold in a narrow very steep path. Not really difficult, but definitely more than just walking, so it could block someone that has a handicap.
  • Some parts are mountain ridges, which can be a problem for people with acrophobia.
  • There are no shops at all, so carrying all of the food and gas (to boil water) for the 5 days can be considered a difficulty.

Overall it was quite easy and very enjoyable.

I saw 3 bears, who happened to be much lower than me, at a reasonable distance. If I had met them face-to-face I might have considered that a difficulty. The path is well-traveled though, with many people wearing small bells, so I guess they stay away.

I had no GPS so I lost my way one time. I would suggest checking your smartphone every hour or so, don't forget to install an offline maps app such as OsmAnd before leaving.

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