Yakushima Hike Day 0: Getting There

[First in a series of posts about my adventure in Yakushima. It’s come to the point where I think if I wait until I finish writing up everything to upload anything, it’ll never happen.]

I arrive at the jet boat terminal just before 7 AM to try to catch the 7:45 AM jetfoil to Yakushima. By the time I reach the ticket window, the 7:45 is sold out so I get a ticket for the one at 12 noon.

Good thing the hostel I stayed at is less than 5 minutes away from the ferry terminal and I don’t have to check out until noon. I walk back to the hostel, pull my sheets out of the sheet disposal bin, climb back into my capsule and nap for 3 hours.

I arrive at Miyanoura port around 2 PM and make my way to the Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center has free wifi and I sit at a table to pour over my map and newly procured bus schedule. Wifi at the hostel in Kagoshima had been iffy and I hadn’t been able to find an up to date bus schedule online in advance. I meet a couple carrying hiking gear and they ask me where I plan to hike, I say I plan to start at Shirataniunsuikyo and head around to Jomon-sugi and then Mt. Miyanoura. They say they plan to do about the same. I ask if they are starting their hike tomorrow morning. They say, no, they are starting now. They leave to catch the 3:30 PM bus to Shirataniunsuikyo.

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last minute trip planning

I briefly contemplate joining them. But heck, I brought my tent and in Kagoshima I only picked up hiking food for 3 days. I decide to go set up my tent and then come back to town in search of hot dinner.

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Miyanoura town

Google Map is not helpful in finding the municipal run Ocean View Campsite. I walk around in a big circle and finally see a small and faded sign for the turn off to the campsite by a seaside rest area toilet. At the entrance to the campsite is a sign that says “No unauthorized camping. Please register at the tourist information center.” Well, it took me 40 minutes to find this place and I’m not walking back to the tourist info center now as it starts to rain. I circle around the campsite. There is no one there. There is a toilet and some sinks with taps and running water, an old house probably for the overseer and some beehives.

I find a spot sheltered from the wind coming off the sea behind some bushes that looks nice and flat. The rain starts to pick up, so I throw down my sleeping mat and empty out the contents of my pack on to it. My tent is packed at the very bottom of my pack as suggested by some backpack packing diagram on the interwebs. Very smart and practical. (Will def need to rethink this.)

Good thing I practiced setting up my tent in Yoyogi Park once before this trip. I hastily stake my tent down, lever it up with a hiking pole and throw all my stuff inside as it really starts to thunder storm. Now what? I am regretting not having brought my Kindle. It’s about 5 PM.

After a while, I Google how to set up a tarp guyline and teach myself the bowline knot and tautline hitch. Then I throw on my rain jacket and set up a an additional tie out on one side of my tent to give me a bit more headroom in the stormy conditions. I tension up my tent a bit but give up on the prospect of going to town for dinner. I cannibalize a breakfast and turn in for bed around 8 PM.

The rain hitting my tent sounds like a million crinkling potato chip bags. Around midnight, the rain lets up a bit and the wind picks instead. The silnylon of my tent billows so much that I think my extra guyline must’ve given out, but it’s not slapping my face or anything so I’m too lazy to fix it. Sometime in the night, car headlights beam through the bushes and a group of car campers bustles around briefly, setting up camp in the rain. I don’t see think they see me, and by the time I wake up the next morning, they are gone.

Date: April 17 • Start: Kagoshima • End: Miyanoura • Distance hiked: 0 km
Achievements Unlocked: first time stealth camping • successfully pitching tent in the rain • learned to tie some knots

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