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Mt. Maapee

Our second hike on the Ishigaki Island: Mt. Maapee.

It has a modest height of 230m with two hiking paths to the top: the longer one takes 45 minutes and the shorter one just 15 minutes! Sounds more like a stroll in the park. The local recommended the short one because the longer path is not clearly marked.

Its distinctive rocky peak is visible from far and we wondered how we can get up there in mere 15 min….

After missing the first sign, we reoriented ourselves and arrived at the real trailhead via a dense forest management road curiously observed by a wild pheasant.

From the beginning it was quite a climb in the dense forest and bamboo bushes but with the ropes we  got up easily. Soon, we found ourselves getting out of the forest and on the rocky top.

From here there is  a breathtaking 360-degree view of  Ishigaki Island! The dense green forest flows down to  the emerald blue water and the peninsula stretches out to the north.  Several hikers came and went, and we stayed on a long time,  perked on the rock gazing at the mesmerizing panorama.

At the top of Okinawa, Mt. Omoto

I know that Okinawa is a water sports activity destination, but a passionate hiker like myself can always find a place to hike up to :  )  So today we have decided to go up to the top of Okinawa, Mt. Omoto at an impressive 525m!

When we started walking, a young Japanese man came down and warned us that it was a lot steeper than expected. After a short while, we started climbing up in the dense, humid tropical forest, which reminded us of Bali as well as Yakushima. Beautiful butterflies, trees tangling with other plants, enormous ferns…

Combing through the low bushy bamboo was a bit of work and Philippe was somewhat annoyed by catching all the cobwebs above 180cm which the slightly smaller Japanese hikers before us kindly left behind.

After around one hour, we arrived at the top of Mt. Omoto, 525m. Despite this modest height it is the highest peak in the entire Okinawa!

From the top we had a sweeping view of the long stretch of the Ishigaki island and the turquoise blue bay of Kabira. Amazing!

 

 

Iriomote Diving

Okinawa is a great nature destination – above and below sea level. We decided to follow our B&B host Kiyoko’s recommendation and booked a two dive outing with Take Diving. Pick-up at the BnB, cool.

Take Diving has a great boat with a changing room, a toilet, hot water shower, and a well established procedure including a dive site briefing. Satoko-san, our friendly instructor, was a bit afraid that the wetsuit and the fins would not fit my size. It did … just.

The first dive at a site called “Flower Garden” is a shallow dive (max. 15m) to get used to the underwater equipment again. As the name of the Flower Garden suggests, large colorful corals spread like flowers under the water with countless tiny blue, red and yellow fish hovering around. Even through relatively weak sunlight, I (Yasuko) felt like being in a fantasy world and wanted to be part of it and float in the water forever…

Nice bento lunch and a quick snorkel around Baraso Island – a super tiny island purely made of coral.

With a bit more confidence (especially for Yasuko) we set out for the second dive at a location called Offshore Nakano (max 25m). We moved around in a spectacular setting made of many mini valleys, small tunnels, coral corridors and caves where Satoko-san pointed out all those many creatures we would otherwise never have spotted. One of such animals was a one-eyed little fish which Take-san, the owner of the diving school, observes for 8 years already. Interesting.

In the evening we were invited to Take-san’s house for today’s dive video viewing and local booze tasting of Awamori.  Take-san and Satoko explained again the fish we observed during the dives and we were awed the second time by the beauty of the colorful, tiny yet amazing underwater creatures.

We dove in many countries but we concluded that Take Diving is the most professional, best-equipped dive shop we ever chartered. However, we have no other Iriomote dive school to compare to. There may be other good ones around.

Phone: +81 9808 56871 / www.takedive.com (not well done)

Kayaking to Mariyudō-no-taki waterfalls

Iriomote’s number-one attraction is a boat trip up the Urauchi-gawa (浦内川), a winding brown river reminiscent of a tiny stretch of the Amazon.

We rented a kayak from the mouth of the river, Urauchi-gawa Kankō (浦内川観光 ) and  paddled up 6 km braving against the wind. Then we joined the tourists who came by the boat  to continue another 2 km on foot all the way in the jungle  to the waterfall.

For us, the main attraction of this trip is the paddling  along the mangrove  rivershore. Iriomote island  is the only place in subtropical Japan where one can do that.  The one hour of rain all the way back and the winds were not a problem at all. We got all wet but the warm temperature balanced it out.

Except occasional boats which carry sightseeing  tourists (who always waved at us), we were floating on the water all alone sandwiched by  the dense, humid Lmangrove forests and forgot that we are in Japan.

 

Ramen: Focus on Taste

We had a 30 minutes layover at the Fukuoka airport to take the connecting flight to Ishigaki – more than enough for a quick slurp of Yasuko’s favorite ramen style, tonkotsu. And as we are at an airport, the usual food service efficiency needs, bien évidemment , to be cranked up a notch or two.

It took precisely 4 minutes from “Yes I do” (want ramen) to the first slurp.

Just respectfully …

  • chose your version of ramen and pay for the voucher at the vending machine
  • move to your own private ramen booth
  • shout “sumimasen” (excuse me) to get the waiters attention
  • hand over the voucher with some extra instructions (for those in the know)
  • wait 2.5 minutes until that steaming bowl flies to you

And now, ladies and gentlemen, close your eyes, lower your heartbeat (oooohm), ignore any funny noises around you, overclock your taste buds and follow the second instruction on the ramen manual sticker on your left which reads: “Focus on Taste” 🇯🇵🍜

 

Swift-S1-FES, 3.20m

Allgemeines
Modelltyp: Segelkunstflug
Masstab: 1:4, Scalemodell
Ausführung:  Voll-Gfk/Cfk, HS-Version
Fabrikat:  xmodels.it
Bezug: leomotion.com

Technik
Spannweite: 3.20m
Länge: 1.74m
Abfluggewicht: 6,736kg
Schwerpunkt: 100mm (kein Trimmblei notwendig)
Sonstiges: Flitschenhaken
Spezielles: IDS-Anlenkungen (Tragflächen)
Fes-Antrieb (Getriebe): LEO 4031-2550, (6.7:1)
Klapppropeller: RFM-Cfk17x13″, weiss
Spinner: RFM-Cfk-Scale, 45mm/6mm
BEC-Regler: Hobbywing Platinum Pro 120A Platinum HV V4
High Voltage
Kabinenhaube: Klappbar wie beim Original!

Radio/RC FrSky
Sender: FrSky X12s
Sender Programmiervorlage: Mike Shellim F3F Slope Racer
Empfänger/RX: FrSky-X 8 R
Sensor: UniSens-E, SM Modellbau
Akku Antrieb: 6S-Lipo, 4’500mAh/22,2V/40C
Stützakku RX:  OptiPower Ultra-Guard 430

Servos Futaba/MKS HV
Höhenruder: MKS HV747, 13.8kg.cm/7,2V
Seitenruder: MKS HV747, 13.8kg.cm/7,2V
Querruder: S3173SVi, 4,3kg.cm/7,4V
Wölbklappen: BLS173SVi, 7,6kg.cm/7,4V

Leergewichte:
Rumpf/Haube/Seite: 1’720g
Cfk-Steckung:    286g
Höhenleitwerk:    218g
Tragflächen: 2’540g
Total 4’764g

CMS Modellflugzeuge

Griesalp to Hohtürli

Via Alpina, Section 13 – Part 1

Griesalp (1408m)  – Bundalp (1840m) – Hohtürli (2774m) – Blümlisalphütte (2840m) – Oeschinensee (1593m) – Kandersteg (1176m)
16km, 1550m up  and 1750m down

Today is one of the hardest hikes on the Via Alpina route, almost 1,400m up to the highest pass of this trail (2,774m). The Via Alpina has a total of 14 passes.

Unlike yesterday, today the sun is out and the blue sky smiles at us.

After a hearty breakfast, we’re ready for the big day!
Leaving behind our beautiful, cozy hotel, we went down to the village center. Not that we wanted to go down but the route does not give us a choice. The center is nothing more than a bus stop and a couple of hotels. Like us a bit earlier, many hikers were getting ready for the next stretch.

Crossing the river, the climb started on the other side of the valley. The first stretch was through the woods. Several hikers were on the trail as well.  A bit later, we walked through pasture land and passed a couple of farmhouses to finally reach a restaurant at Bundalp (1,840m). It looked enticing, but too early to have a break, we skipped it and continued.

At this time I told Caroline that we had gone up roughly one third of today’s ascent, only another 1,000 m up to go. Not sure whether it was encouraging or discouraging…

A little bit later, the imposing Blümlisalp Massif and the Blümlisalphütte appeared on the hoirzon, today’s highest point as well as our lunch destination. The hut seemed to be sitting on the boulder, majestic, far and away.

It was very sunny and it seemed a popular route, with a lot of hikers on the trail.

The steep slope was criss-crossed with many paths.

We looked up to the hut on the boulder under the blue sky often. What a fantastic sight! The more altitude we gained, the more of yesterday’s path we could see on the opposite side of the valley, even the Sefinenfurgge pass, yesterday’s highest point .
I always love seeing the  travelled route and pass of the day before. It helps me to understand the exact geography of the area. It is like creating your own 3D map in your head.

The rugged Gespaltenhorn (3426m) and Gespaltenhornhütte at the foot were also visible.  The dutch couple we met the day before went into this direction. That route  seemed not funny….

After we managed some narrow path on the ridge, the famous steps to Hohtürli appeared. The stairs seemed to wind up endlessly.

One step after the other. Luckily no one was coming down and we did not need to cross other hikers on those narrow steps.

The last stretch on the stairs looked vertical! The sweat was streaming down on my face while I was concentrating on the steps ahead of me,  not looking at the steep slope going down several hundreds meters.

After some hundreds of steps, I reached at the top of staircase and Caroline came up just after me and smiled, when seeing the hut in front of us. Done.

Finally at the Hohtürli (= the high small door), 2774m. We made it!

Via Alpina Rotstockhütte to Griesalp

Via Alpina Section 12 – Part 2

Rotstockhütte (2019m) -> Sefinenfurgge (2612m) -> Griesalp (1408m)
10km, 600m up and 1500m down

After a night at the mountain hut, we woke up early. Every time someone went to the out-of-the house toilet at night, the wooden floor squeaked and the noise prevented us from a good night of sleep… We were nevertheless warm inside the hut and Caroline told me that the sky at night was amazingly starry!

Despite the lack of sleep, I was in the fresh morning air and happy to be in this fantastic alpine environment.

The breakfast tactics were simple. Absorb as much energy as possible in form of bread, cheese and hot chocolate to happily keep walking until our final destination Griesalp. There isn’t any restaurant on the way.

Today’s program: 4.5 hour of hiking including a serious 1,200m downhill stretch.

Leaving the hut behind, many other hikers were heading our way. A Dutch couple, three American men and two Swiss women steadily were climbing up the steep path. We could see the Schilthorn (2970m), famous for 007’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. From afar, the Schilthorn seemed to fall off from its own edge.

Looking back in the direction of our overnight hut, the northface of the Eiger with the Eigergletscher Station showed off its glory. Last year, I was standing at that station, admiring the Eiger peak.

On the way we stopped many times to rest and were delighted when Caroline spotted a steinbock high up on the slope!

The impressive peak in front of our hut, which we believed to be called “Rotstock” (in fact it was called just “Horn”) turned out to be sphinx-like from the other side.

From here, the uphill got quite strenuous. The  green meadow changed to  the slippery scree-covered steep slope.  Just up and up!

We finally reached the Sefinenfurgge Pass (2612m), which was a very narrow pass.  We were rewarded with a sweeping view of the Kiental Valley.  It was all of a sudden getting cloudy and the cold wind was blowing over the pass.  After enjoying the view for a short time and saying a goodbye to the Eiger and Jungfrau, we tightened our shoe laces to prepare for the long descent.

And not only was it a long descent but a super steep one with 45-degree steps!  It looked like going down to the hell….

Nevertheless, I was grateful to those who took pains to make these wooden steps. Without them, we would have slid down this unfriendly scree slope…

Managing downhill steps, we jig-zagged on the moon-like surface. Other peaks and glaciers started appearing on our left side. This rugged landscape was forlorn and awe-inspiring.

After a while, the terrain changed to a more greener and friendlier surface.  As Caroline is an Ikebana master and familiar with flowers, I had a pleasant little lecture on alpine flora.

Caroline was getting tired with going down 1200m, which is quite normal. So the moment we found a good-size rock to sit on,  we made a stop,  looking at the other side of the mountains and contemplating which pass we are going through the next day.

We were both happy to arrive in the early afternoon in Griesalp, a quaint hamlet, and to put our feet up at our old, beautiful hotel.  It’s such a luxury to have a good hot shower and our own room for two, instead of no shower and sleeping in a room with 15 other hikers…..

Sitting at the terrace comfortably and having tea, we watched many hikers coming down. They as well seemed exhausted after a serious day of decent…

At dinner we shared a table with a solo hiker from Fribourg, Gido. Caroline coincidentally went to high school near his school and as it is often the case, we had a very enjoyable talk with a fellow hiker.