A local bus brings us to the start of our hike on Mount Gas-san.
The highest of the three sacred mountains, Gas-san is covered in deep snow for much of the year. The mountain is officially ‘opened’ each year with a ceremony at the Shinto shrine at the summit, which we will reach following a two and half hour climb. Along the hike there are lovely small ponds formed by the melting snow and an abundance of alpine flowers.
After a picnic lunch, we will retrace our steps down the mountain and head to the entrance of Haguro-san. We will walk up a beautiful staircase of 2,446 stone steps through giant cedars to the summit, At the top, pilgrims in their white coats head for the Dewa Sanzan shrine with its massive thatched roof, which we visit before returning to Shukobo lodging for dinner.
Following dinner there will be an optional visit to a nearby natural hot spring.
Walking distance: 9.5km / 6 miles
Elevation gain: 600m / 2,000 feet ascent; 600m / 2,000 feet descent
Time required: 4.5 hours