What's New at Hakkoda?    

This year, as always, we came across many wild animals while riding in the back country. But after seeing giant rabbit tracks over 100cm long, we felt no one would believe us unless we showed proof!

Giant wabbit twacks (photo by Richard Pascoe)
As you can see, my board which is 169cm. long proves how big these tracks are! Recently another friend sent me a picture of a giant rabbit proving that these rabbits do exist!

Giant wabbit!

So if you see this rabbit at Hakkoda, you might want to think twice about petting it! We also run into a local deer called Kamoshika in Japanese (called "serow" in English) that looks more like a goat than a deer. Usually they go running (very fast I may add) when we suddenly come upon them.

photo by kasia

But recently on a tour we came across this one that was intent on checking us out as we stopped to take it's picture! Other animals seen at Hakkoda included sable (marten), squirrel, and mice and fox. In spring, birds like black kites (a type of hawk), woodpeckers. cuckoos, thrushes, tits, and bull finches can be seen.

Updated 4/15/06! On April 15, 2006, we had our annual tour to Mt. Iwaki.
After dropping off cars behind the mountain, we drove to the 8th station. (Ward turned me on to a great German bakery on the way where we stopped to taste some fresh baked bread). The switch back road, closed all winter, opened officially at 8 a.m. One of the ski patrollers came over to talk to us as we were getting ready and commented that he had seen me on TV recently where the camera crew came on one of my tours and featured me as the only non-Japanese guide at Hakkoda! The lift was still encased with snow, so we had an extra 20 min. hike before the 45 min. hike to the top of the mountain. The weather was perfect and we were able to board off the steep open bowl from the summit (see picture) down the 12km. course called Yayoi, named after the shrine located near to where we parked the car. The spring snow was so sweet and fast as we made first tracks. We stopped for a break on one of the ridges where 2 hawks flew close by checking us out and also chased a mouse down a tree hole as well. This year we were able to board right down to the car without any walking. We also ran into Mr. Ashizawa (the Bandit) from the Hakkoda Sansou lodge who was waiting in the van for another tour that was behind us! It was so good that I may go back next weekend as well. If you are interested give me a call. Definitely one of the best runs of this season! Just a reminder, with the good snow this year I will be doing back country tours until at least the end of May at Hakkoda. See you on the mountain!

Mt. Iwaki 1625 meters, the highest mountain in Aomori

Updated 2/21/06! See the article about me by Leah Greenstein at Mountain Zone: http://ski.mountainzone.com/2006/hakkoda/index.html

Updated 1/21/06! The article entitled "Japan's Backcountry Dojo", profiling Hakkoda is now at the newsstands in the February 2006 issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine.
Be sure to pick up your own copy of this full colour magazine and see the great pix and read what they have to say about me too!


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