Nikko city, known for its UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Toshogu Temple, usually has visitors to sightsee or pray. That said, the mountains lining Nikko make more than perfect terrain to trek. Particularly during winter, ice stalagmites and drift ice transform the landscape into an adventurer’s winter wonderland.
For those on a break from high impact sports like skiing or snowboarding, ice trekking is a perfect alternative that still gives you action in the snow. Due to the relatively gentle nature of the activity, it is suitable for a wide range of ages.
Starting from Tobu-Nikko station, our tour operator Tokyo Gaijins picked us up and gave us some hiking poles, snow boots, and crampons. Upon reaching the mountain path entrance, there were many taxis that had gone the same route up and had gotten stuck. It seems that this route is popular with many Japanese people.
The hike started at 9 am where off we went into the powdery whiteness for slightly more than half the day. We hiked up switch after meandering switch. The incline was not too bad and the group was large enough to go at a slow enough pace. After an hour and a half or so, we reached a lookout point of the mountains and stopped to take some photos. There was a lot of excitement about what was to come! The winding mountain path ended at a crossing to a canyon, where we had to traverse mini treacherous streams and ravines.
We also came across some ice climbers who were really getting into the ice that had formed around the mountain edges. It looked really fun, with a touch of slow-release adrenaline.
Even though ice had formed on stones around the river, water was still flowing and it made a beautiful sight. We finally arrived at our destination of a waterfall that had frozen over. Three cheers for completing the expedition and a nice day out experiencing another side of Mother Nature!