Saturday, February 4, 2017

Snowpocalypse Part 2 - Nozawa Onsen

It was again dumping on our way to Nozawa and we woke up to (another) 50cm of snow overnight...
Since Nozawa Onsen has a constant supply of hot water from its thermal sources, they use the heat and the water to melt the snow on the street!

What is really cool about Nozawa Onsen is that its a town that as been there for hundreds of years. You have to  walk through town with your ski boots to make it to the lifts.

One of the problem with Nozawa is that they are grooming a lot....
Even the fresh powder!
There is only a few designated runs where they do not groom it...

It is also quite flat in a lot of places...

BUT!!!

On the upside, the competition for freshies is way less than in Hakuba1

... and since the tree skiing is not allowed but since this rule is not stricly enforce, there are a lot of good turns to do out-of-bounds!

We spent most of our day lapping the trees under the Hikage gondola.
It has been nearly a week of constant snowfall and we were really struggling to dry our goggles and gloves in our non-heated campervan... at this point, Amelie was almost getting tired of the snow...

It was interesting to see the struggle of the resident of Nozawa Onsen that were trying to keep up with the gigantic amount of snow what was falling!




It snowed again 20cm overnight but, for once, the sun seemed to be nearby!
We made it to the Hikage Gondola by using a really long (and free) escalator that connect the gondola base to the village.

I guess you know your car need to be shoveled when you see Japanese people taking picture in front of your car!!!

There was a bit of an inversion early in the morning that eventually disappeared.
We lapped a few times the runs before heading back to the out-of-bounds trees.

The snow was really nice and dry and it was pretty cool to see a little bit as we were skiing!!

The big weather system that brought constant snowfall in the past week was now officially over! On our side, we were pretty toasted by the full week of opening-till-closure skiing!

I got pressured not to ski on our last ski day by Amelie who’s knee have had growing pain during the past seven days. I didn’t exactly accepted all smile out, but let her win anyway...

After a breakfast picnic made over a foot-onsen, we left Nozawa Onsen to try to see the snow monkeys.

As we made it to the nearby snow monkey park, we were somehow informed that the park was closed due to the last snow storm. To reach the monkeys, a 30 minutes hike is required and the management wasn’t able to keep up cleaning the snow and keeping the footpath open.

There was  nevertheless a slight chance to see them since, they were apparently pretty often making their way to a nearby onsen.

We made our way to this nearby onsen and they were there!
By looking at a bunch of adults getting all excited about seeing a few monkeys, I was really wondering who were the monkeys after all!!

After spending about an hour looking at monkeys not bigger than a small dog, we made our way back to the car.

We now had to drive to make our way back to Tokyo from where we were flying out the following day.

We dropped Caro to a nearby hostel since whe was staying in Japan for another 3 weeks and hit the highway.

The highway in Japan are fairly expensive, but they probably save you around half of the time than if you use the national roads.

We blindly followed the GPS and had to traverse the downtown Tokyo highway system.
That was quite an experience. I dont’ know which road we followed on our way out of Tokyo, but it was just a puzzle of highways that criss-crossed each others this time!

We stopped in various rest area on our way to the airport since we have previously bumped into some that were boasting showers. Despite their Disneyland-look, none of the one at which we stopped had showers.

We had planned to shower at the airport, but due to deficient time management, only Amelie had time to shower before going through immigration and customs.

Since I’ve already checked-in my luggage and didn’t want to jump into clean clothes before cleaning a bit myself, I ended up going from the drop-off to our gate in my skiing underwear!

I managed to have some kind of cleaning 5 minutes before changing in clean clothes and boarding!

All and all, it was another awesome trip in Japan!
Despite being my 5th trip, I manage to ski mostly places where I’ve never had good snow in epic conditions! I don’t if I would rather go to Honshu of Hokkaido on my next trip, but I really like to opportunity to be flexible on the destination on this trip!
Now on my way to Calgary where I will catch up with my Quebec friends Etienne, Babiche and Nic before rallying with JS in Golden.

From there, we’ll fly in to a hut in the Purcell where we’ll spend the week!

Cheers,
evans

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