Saturday, May 17, 2014

Yakushima, Part 5

May 7th, still

Geographically, the island of Yakushima originally formed from volcanic activity, and is 80% granite. In fact, the island is one, single large granite dome. When the rock cooled, it formed cracks. Over time, the constant typhoons caused the cracks to erode, turning them into the 8 major river valleys. Much of the water for the people on the island comes from these rivers.

What will occasionally happen is a tree will be knocked over, and then other trees will grow on top of it. Then, the original tree will rot away, leaving the other trees standing up with exposed roots. The only evidence that this happened is that the remaining trees with gaps under the roots are all in a line.

There are places where you really have to ask "where'd the trail go?" That's when you start looking for those little pink strips of plastic tied to branches or pounded into the ground.

One rock that isn't going to be swept away by the next flash flood.

Almost at the top.

Finally, after 4 hours of up, we reach the top of this particular peak. Along the way, we encountered several Japanese couples, as well as tourists from Poland, France, Germany and Ireland. Perhaps the rudest couple was the one from the U.S. Everyone else was willing to stop and talk for a minute or two.

Time for down.

Another example of incompatible species intertwined together.

I don't remember the name of this flower. I'm told that it's not a fly trap. The inside of the cup stays warm, so at night insects will crawl in to escape the cold, which is how they end up pollinating these plants.


This is roughly the part of the forest that was used for background scenes for the "Princess Mononoke" anime. A couple photos from this area were also featured in a National Geographic magazine article on the island.

Sometimes, you can get a driftwood effect without needing real driftwood.

Insects will bore into certain trees and cut through the parts of the bark that delivers water from the roots to the branches, and then the water will just leak out uselessly. Eventually, that part of the tree will harden, leaving something like a bunch of empty straws under the bark.

Can anyone tell me what this kind of growth on the tree is called?

The rest of the walk paralleled the river back to the park entrance. During the Edo period, lumber harvesting required that workers carry the wood out of the hills on their backs. Stronger workers could carry up to 100 kg (200 pounds) at one time. To make the trip easier, the workers built a trail that is relatively flat and smooth. That trail is part of the existing hiking trails.

One boulder was pushed into place over the river to create a kind of sluice gate. My guide told me that during the summer, parts of the river are popular for roping (you get in the river and climb upstream by pulling yourself forward along a rope).

From here, it's a simple walk back to the parking lot at the park entrance, and a 20 minute drive to town. My guide took me to the hotel first to return the raincoat, then to the ferry port for my 5:15 return trip to Kagoshima. Overall, it was a good hike, made much better by the assistance of my guide. If you plan on visiting Yakushima, I highly recommend the services of YNAC.

May 8th
Yeah, my impressions of Yakushima prior to the trip really didn't come close to the reality. I'd like to go back, if I can do it more cheaply next time. We'd started the hike at 650 meters, and the peak was at 1000 meters. The full trip was 6 km and maybe 6 hours were spent walking it.

I ended up taking over 100 photos. Visit the complete gallery.

1 comment:

zillustration said...

Wow! What a feaky forest! Those roots are unbelievable. I've seen photos of trees around Angkor Wat, but it seemed much more tropical. Sorry to hear the Ugly Americans were still being cliché.