This year Golden Week in Hakuba was wet and a little cold except for Tuesday when the sun burst through the clouds and the white snowy mountain peaks came out.We decided to venture out to Iwatake Mountain Resort to join one of their guided dog trekking tours. With most of the Hakuba Valley lift accessed hiking trails inside the Chubusangaku National Park where our canine friends are not welcome, Iwatake have made the most of this with a dog friendly gondola, large dog run and a kind of dog assault course.
We met at the summit of Iwatake and even though it was only 10.00, it was already becoming busy with hordes of masked tourists taking advantage of the beautiful weather. We met up with our guide “Ken” and other customers for a total of 5 humans and 4 dogs!
Iwatake famously sits on its own mountain and basically you can hike in all the points of the compass, our guide and for this walk we headed north to tackle the Honoki-daira course. Setting off we were treated with the stunning views of the Hakuba three peaks with Ken, pointing out the different names and heights. In fact, Ken was great at also pointing out the flora that was just beginning to bloom after spending a few months under the snow.
At one point Ken showed us the hibernation den of a Japanese bear high above in a tree. We were all amazed as we all didn’t know that bears hibernated on the treetops.
After reaching our destination viewpoint with vistas looking north towards Hakuba Cortina and Hakuba Norikura ski areas. After a drinks and snacks for both human and dogs it was time to head back towards the summit. This time the dogs were much slower pulling the humans up the trail.
Lunch was taken at the Hakuba Deli, which can be enjoyed either inside the restaurant in a special dog area, or outside. With the sunny warm conditions, we opted for an outdoor alfresco lunch. While we ate, the dogs slept, probably dreaming of the fun they had on the trail.
Tours are available in spring and autumn – please check hakuba1.com for available dates.