The past month has been particularly eventful for our Outdoor Education program, with numerous hikes and one practice expedition! In this post, Angeles (G12, Venezuela), summarises each of the trips that our students embarked on.
Lake Nozori Overnight Hike
Our students headed to an overnight hike around Lake Nozori (野反湖) in Gunma Prefecture. This is actually an artificial lake, formed by a dam at 1,513m. The mountains that surround the lake are over 2,000m tall! The warmer months of the year make it the perfect place to spot a wide variety of flowers and plants, such as azaleas, fireweed and ezorindo.
Led by Ms. Tuggey, our students had the opportunity to camp by the lakeside, and were offered different hikes with different types of terrain around the lake and the mountain range that connects Shigakogen with Nozoriko. A group of students also had the option to hike up to the bright and beautiful Yugama acid lake, a crater lake and the most acidic in Japan!
“I learned how important it is to get perspective in our life, because often it’s easy to get caught up in routine, but during the hike, I realised how big the world is and that even though sometimes things seem very important, stressful or serious, in reality it is not like that. Nature does a great job showing you how small your problems are.” – Alex (G10, Slovakia)
Mount Tateshina Hike
An approximate 2 hours drive from our school, Mount Tateshina (蓼科山) is a 2,530m complex volcano in Nagano Prefecture. It is considered one of the 100 most famous Japanese mountains.
As usual, our students had the opportunity to choose either an easy or hard hike depending on their personal interests, and these were lead by our Stream 3 student leaders, Yutaro (G11, Japan) and Vori (G11, Thailand), as well as faculty members Mr. Earwood and Mr. Murphy. Some students enjoyed a long walk along the valley and the Kikko pond, while other students went up to the very top of Mount Tateshina!
“The hike was a little bit hard, but something that I still liked was being able to see rock faces because I had never seen anything that big! It was beautiful. That, together with the moderate rain, made the atmosphere of the place very powerful and inspiring. I had tons of fun with my friends as well!” – Lin (G10, Japan)
Mount Tanigawa Hike
Students had the opportunity to visit the majestic and rocky Mount Tanigawa (谷川岳), which is 1,977m tall. This mountain is located on the border between Gunma prefecture and Niigata prefecture, in northern Minakami. The imposing peak is popular among hikers and climbers all around Japan, and it is also considered one of the 100 most famous Japanese mountains.
One group participated in a long stroll around the roads of the Tanigawa area, which offers impressive views of the Tanigawa valley, streams and waterfalls. The other two groups took the challenge to climb to the rocky peak: one walked a 600m vertical gain, while the other walked a 1,200m vertical gain (Which is almost the equivalent of climbing Mount Asama from our school!). The hikes were led by Stream 3 student leaders Kunawat (G12, Thailand), Angeles (G12, Venezuela) and a faculty member.
“I enjoyed going on this hike because it is an activity that I wouldn’t normally do in my home country, due to safety concerns. Hiking in Japan is amazing and the trails are very well-developed. I also had space to reflect on the nature; human beings are so small yet so capable of negatively affecting the environment. After this hike, I felt more connected to nature and keen to take more responsibility for it.” – Eduardo (G10, Mexico)
Stream 2 Practice Expedition – Yatsugatake
Right before the Autumn Break, a group of Stream 2 and Stream 3 students, together with a faculty member, set off on an adventurous practice expedition in the rainy Yatsugatake, a volcanic mountain range on the border between Nagano prefecture and Yamanashi prefecture.
Students went to various peaks in the mountain range, including Nyuu (2,351m), Nakayama (2,496m) and Tengu-dake (2,646m), as well as a walk around the Shirokoma Lake.
The main objective of the trip was to prepare students for future expeditions, so during the two days of hiking, the students participated in simulated emergency scenarios, conversations about gear, weather, conservation and developing navigational skills. After this training, we hope that the Stream 2 students will soon be ready to propose and carry out their own multi-day adventures!
“The expedition was quite hard. The weather was not welcoming at all, which taught me so much about the importance of equipment and safety measures. When we finished, I felt like I had achieved so much in so little time. Looking back and contemplating the mountain that we came down from made me feel proud of myself. I enjoyed very much the training and acquiring knowledge while walking into the mountains. It is for sure an unusual learning environment, but it is also the best place to test yourself, push your limits, and bond with other students!” – Gall (G11, Israel)