Back in December Ryan and I had the pleasure of joining a snowshoeing tour in Tsuta Bird Sanctuary in Towada National Park. Our guide was Simon, who is well known around the base community and an asset to all things "out the gate". He is also an expert on outdoor activities and knows the local areas well. I couldn't leave Japan without joining one of his tours and this was our last winter here so it was definitely now or never.
I wouldn't say snowshoeing was easier than expected, but it was definitely different from what I expected. And it was a lot more fun! Honestly, combining two of my least favorite things- hiking and snow (in all fairness as an adult I discovered I do like hiking, and I even did a serious hike, but for those that knew me as a kid, I tried everything I could to never have to hike and I still frequently say I hate it...but I don't!), seemed like the worst idea ever. The good news is that, as I mentioned a moment ago, I actually enjoy hiking now, and on this particular day, the weather was amazing! I see now that this was a sign of winter to come. This winter has been very, very, very mild compared to what we are used to here.
Below are pictures that words can hardly describe, so I won't even try. The scenery was not just beautiful, but it was "real". The snow had recently fallen so the path was non-existent. Our leader used a hiking GPS device to follow a set path and then we followed in his tracks. We were the only ones out on the trail. Us and nature. That is why I felt like it was real. It was quiet. It was peaceful. It was perfect.
One of our first stops was at this lake. We took a few moments to get some pictures and just enjoy the scenery.
If I remember correctly there were 7 water areas to stop at along the way. This is another one of those.
Here I am enjoying the sun and snow as I trekked through the woods in northern Japan.
Never thought I would see myself smiling as I wandered through the woods in the snow!
And here I am on the go again.
At lunch time we stopped by another lake and sat down to eat in a little covered area nearby overlooking the water. Of course Ryan and I took a picture before sitting down to refuel.
Here I am after lunch...still smiling!
At the last lake of the hike we spotted swans. They are hard to see in this picture but they are out there in the middle. Wondering what birds consider this "south" for the winter? These are Siberian swans!
Luckily someone zoomed in enough to be able to see them up close. Very cool!
At the very end of the trail we came across this little cabin.
We also found the sign with the map. It's a loop. We just happened to start going in the opposite direction so this sign ended up at the end for us.
After the hike we all headed back to the base, but first we stopped by this stream to get some fresh spring water.
Here I am filling up my water bottle with some amazingly refreshing water.
Yum! And still smiling. Although maybe I was smiling because the next stop was a country bakery!
The perfect end to the perfect snowshoe hike.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever been snowshoeing? Do you do any winter sports? Have you ever drank water straight from a spring?