Day 7: Biei-Fuji Hut to Shirogane Onsen
The full Traverse would continue to Tokachidake Onsen. Seeing as there was a storm rolling in at midday, and the quality of our water was sketchy, we left the The Grand Traverse at the earlier exit, which is Shirogane Onsen.
Starting out was fresh and easy, and although most of our clothes were not dry, the prospect of the onsen gave us a goal. The thin portacabin walls lost all of the heat from cooking pretty quickly, and so we had slept poorly in the cold.
But the morning was sunny, and we had 6 hours until the rain was due to start up again. The descent was at an easy angle but very muddy in places, and it grew increasingly hot as we descended from the alpine cool of the mountain. The path dipped into forested land, and after a 4 hour trek which took us 30 minutes longer to complete, we ended up at the gate to the park. From here we walked along country roads for 40 minutes to reach Shirogane Onsen.
Shirogane Onsen was touted to us by most locals we came across when cycling around Hokkaido so we were excited to give it a try. Surprisingly, it wasn’t that large but did have 2 indoor pools, a plunge pool, an outdoor pool, and a sauna room. Unlike most onsen there were stone dividers between the sit down shower spaces so you had a degree of privacy. There was also more than your average amount of free stuff: shampoo, conditioner, body soap, exfoliator, face peel, mud masks, and foot scrubber. I must’ve cleaned myself three times over before I soaked. That’s how much I missed being clean.
The downside of this is that we now realised just how much our clothes, pack and boots stank of putrid swamp water. No one sat next to us on the bus. There are only 3 buses running to Asahikawa City from Shirogane each day, but there seems to be no available timetable online, so be sure to check the timings at the bus stop before heading into the onsen.
Shirogane Onsen: http://www.shiroganeonsen.com/
If you’ve stuck with this gargantuan summary of The Grand Traverse then you’re probably thinking about hiking the Traverse. Continue onto Part 2: The Gear, a much pithier post, for a seven day hiking kit list created especially for Daisetsuzan National Park.