Sunday, March 31, 2013

Nagao-ji (Temple 87) to Ookubo-ji (Temple 88)

Cherry blossoms at Temple 87 (Nagao-ji). Today I did the walk from Nagao-ji to Ookubo-ji (Temple 88) with Dave Turkington and David Moreton. It was overcast most of the day, but we had no rain at all. Actually, great conditions for hiking!
Azaleas blooming alongside the path near the Maeyama Dam.
Sakura blooming on the shores of the lake at Maeyama Dam.
Beautiful stretch of trail along a forest stream on our way to the summit of Nyotai-san.

Ascending the trail to the summit of Nyotai-san from where it'll be all downhill to Temple 88 (Ookubo-ji).
Looking back at the well-built trail on the ascent to the peak of Nyotai-san.
Final stretch of trail before we reached the small shrine on the top of Nyotai-san.
The summit marker on the flat-topped and wooded peak of Nyotai-san. From here, through breaks in the trees, we could see the Seto Inland Sea (Seto Naikai) that separates the island of Shikoku from Japan's main island of Honshu.
From the summit of Nyotai-san, it was a steady descent to Ookubo-ji with occasional (and welcome) stretches of level trail.
The stepped trail leading down to Temple 88 (Ookubo-ji).
Alongside the trail, magnolia blossoms brightened the way.
Temple 88 (Ookubo-ji). As the last temple of the 88 Temple Pilgrimage, it's known as the Temple of the Completion of the Vow.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

On the Shikoku no michi: Hiwasa to Yamagawachi

Sunny day in Tokushima, Shikoku island, Japan. Took the train to Hiwasa town this morning with David Moreton for a visit to Yakuo-ji (Temple 23 on the Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage) and a walk along the cliff-edged coastline via the Shikoku no michi. This is a view of Hiwasa town from Yakuoji.
The sakura (cherry blossoms) were out in full force at Yakuo-ji.
The distinctive pagoda at Yakuo-ji.
Yakuo-ji as seen from across Hiwasa's harbor.
Yakuo-ji floating on a pink cloud of cherry blossoms.
Yakuo-ji temple grounds.
After the visit to Yakuo-ji, we headed off on our walk along the Shikoku no michi. Near the reconstructed Hiwasa Castle, the Shikoku no michi became a beautiful, broad and level path.
The path shortly led us to the top of the cliffs that line Shikoku's eastern shore. We enjoyed beautiful views over the Pacific and up and down the rugged coastline.
The trail undulated quite a bit, several times gaining elevation before losing it again. It was bit of a workout, but the trail was well-maintained (with some switchbacks and a lot of steps), but the views made it all worthwhile.
David on the Shikoku no michi heading toward Yamagawachi on one of the path's gentler stretches.
And all along the trail there were violets, a variety of ferns and blossoming camellias!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Adios, Patagonia!

We are leaving Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, on our way back to El Calafate, Argentina this morning. Here's a parting shot of the Cuernos del Paine (right) as seen over Lago Pehoe from the Hosteria Pehoe.
We crossed the border from Chile into Argentina (via the Paso Don Guillermo) in good time and shortly thereafter pulled over for some photos of flamingos wading in a shallow pool on the Patagonian steppe.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lago Grey and Mirador de los Condores

Lago Pehoe and the Hosteria Pehoe connected to the mainland by a footbridge. The Cuernos del Paine (right) and Paine Grande (left) rise in cloud-shrouded majesty in the background.
Descending from the Mirador de los Condores toward the turquoise-blue Lago Pehoe.
Feeling the winds of Patagonia at the Mirador de los Condores above Lago Pehoe.
Salto Grande and rainbow.
Buffeted by the strong winds at the Salto Grande (waterfall) between Lago Nordenskjold and Lago Pehoe.
The powerful cataract of Salto Grande.
 The group at the foot of Lago Grey.
Icebergs in Lago Grey.
Grounded icebergs (tempanos) at the south end of Lago Grey. It was warm summer so lots of icebergs calved off the Grey Glacier and drifted to the south end of Lago Grey. The sharp spire in the background is called Punzon.
Beautiful morning reflections of the Cuernos del Paine in Lago Pehoe. I have never seen this lake so calm! Usually it's jade green in color with waves and whitecaps kicked up by strong westerly winds.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hike to the Valle del Frances (French Valley)

The rock spires behind the Cuernos del Paine. The pinnacle at left is called Espada ("sword") and the rock "fin" to the right is known as Oja ("leaf").
Leaving the Mirador Frances on our way back to the Lodge Paine Grande area where we'll catch the boat back to the Pudeto dock.
Looks like a waterfall, but no! It's a glacial avalanche cascading down from the French Glacier high on the slopes of Paine Grande. Several of these large avalanches came down during the few minutes we were here--an "Old Faithful" avalanche!
A view of Lago Pehoe from the Mirador Frances.
Reflections in Lago Skottsberg...amazing! I've never seen this lake calm enough to show a reflection! Usually there are strong winds here and the water equivalent of "dustdevils" dancing across the lake's surface. This is a special day!
On the trail to the French Valley.
Trailhead at the Lodge Paine Grande area. We're headed toward Campamento Italiano and the French Valley.
View of Paine Grande (left) and the Cuernos del Paine ("Horns of Paine") to the right. Seen over Lago Nordenskjold, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. We are on our way to the Pudeto boat dock on Lago Pehoe where we'll take a catamaran to the Lodge Paine Grande area. We'll begin our hike into the Valle del Frances ("French Valley") from there.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hike to Mirador Las Torres

The Torres del Paine, a Patagonian icon, on a particularly clear day. Sunny and warm with gentle breezes blowing--not a typical Patagonian combination! From left to right: The South Tower (Agostini), Central Tower, North Tower (Monzino).
Descending into the valley of the Rio Ascensio. The black-topped peak of the Nido del Condor ("Condor's Nest") in the background.
The trail ascends to enter the valley of the Rio Ascensio.
On our way from the Hosteria Las Torres to the Refugio Chileno in the valley of the Rio Ascensio. From there, we'll continue up the valley to the Mirador Las Torres.
A beautiful Patagonian sunrise greets us on this first morning in Chile. Red sky in the morning...but I think it's gonna be a nice day!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

To Torres del Paine, Chile

 Monte Almirante Nieto (the snow-capped peak in the background) and the Torres del Paine (to the right) rise above Lago Sarmiento, Chile.
The summit of the Paine Grande, highest peak in the Paine massif, sails clear of cloud in a bright blue sky. Usually even on the best of days, cloud streamers obscure the highest point of the Paine Grande. Today is exceptional! Chile lindo!
The Paine massif as seen from the highway between La Esperanza and Rio Turbio, Argentina. We will be crossing the border into Chile shortly!
Sunrise paints the peaks of the Fitzroy massif. This splendid light show only lasted for about one minute, or so.
The orange light of sunrise on the Cerro Torre, Torre Egger, and Cerro Standhardt as seen from the mirador outside El Chalten. The time is about 7:15 AM. We are bound for Torres del Paine in Chile today.