Hike from Oze (尾瀬) to Okukinunuma (奥鬼怒沼)

 In Outing report

For the first 3 days week-end of the summer, the forecast had, without surprise, predicted lots of rain for what should mark the end of the rainy season. No need to go hiking on some summits in the Japan Alps and endure bad weather for 3 days without being able to see anything. But ideas and projects I have many. It was even perfect conditions to hike all the way from Oze (尾瀬) marshland to Okukinu marshland (奥鬼怒沼) and then get down at Okukinu-onsen (奥鬼怒温泉). Outside of the marshland, the trail is in the forest so it wouldn’t turn into an ordeal like it would hiking for hours on an unprotected ridge in the Alps. As we wouldn’t be able to see anything anyway, it is best to hike protected in the forest. But on top of all these reasons, a marshland is never as beautiful as when it’s wet.

Saturday morning we started at Hatomachitōge pass (鳩待峠) our hike under the rain. Except a short break when we crossed the Yokotashiro (横田代) and Ayamedaira (アヤメ平) marshlands, it rained until we reached the Ooshimizudaira (大清水平) where a little bit of blue sky appeared before going down to Ozenuma lake (尾瀬沼). Despite the weather, we were not alone at the pass. but from Fujimitōge pass (富士見峠) until the lake, we didn’t met anyone. If the rain was not disturbing itself, the train transformed in some sections into a river, in some others in a deep mud trench. I quickly regretted to wear hiking boots. Plastic boots would have been more appropriate ; it would have ket my feet dry.

Yokotashiro - marshland - 2Yokotashiro - marshland - 6Shiraosan muddy trailOoshimizudaira marshland - 3Hemerocallis dumortieri on Ooshimizudaira marshlandOzenuma - 3

We couldn’t see any view but at least there was many nice flowers on the way to look at:

Platanthera mandarinorumNarthecium asiaticumMonotropastrum humileLigularia dentataIris setosa in Okukinunumagentiana thunbergii var. minordroserra anglicaDactylorhiza aristataAmitostigma kinoshitae

The rain calmed down for the evening so we could eat outside at the camping. But the second day, as soon as we crossed the Obuchisawatashiro (小淵沢田代) marshland, the rain started again. Not often used, the trail heading to Okukinunuma, was in better conditions than the one of the day before and it was perfect conditions to hike it (I was still regretting my plastic boots though). The forest, quite deep has strictly no view to offer for the entire day. Even the small detour to Kinunumayama (鬼怒沼山) summit was a complete waste of time. Doing this trail by a nice weather wouldn’t add anything to it. It’s quite the opposite in fact. Totally alone in this humid, misty and silent forest, the atmosphere was quite special; wild and mysterious.

On the way to Obuchisawatashiro marshlandObushisawatashiro marshland - 1Forest trail between Oze and Okukinunuma - 2Forest trail between Oze and Okukinunuma - 1Forest trail between Oze and Okukinunuma - 5Forest trail between Oze and Okukinunuma - 4Forest trail between Oze and Okukinunuma - 3Water source on the way between Oze and OkukinunumaArriving near Okukinunumayama

Arrived in the afternoon at the Okukinunuma marshland, we decided to stay in the observation lodge. Normally authorized to hikers only in case of emergency, we had nowhere to pitch the tent. The rare opened ground areas had either turn into puddles or mud. Our camp set up we waited for evening, when the rain stopped to go out. An then, just before the sun went down, deer started to go out of the woods. It was a nice sight to see the wild animals going out on the marshland. Something that hikers coming on the marshland as a day hike cannot see and that we were the only one to enjoy that evening.

Night falling on Okukinunuma marshland

As we woke up early the sky was totally clear of clouds. We quickly packed our gears and went out of this shady and dark hut with no window to have our breakfast on a bench on the marshland hike while bathing in the first sun rays of the past 3 days. A royal breakfast like even a 5 stars hotel can serve.

royal breakfast on Okukinunuma marshland - 2Hiuchigatake viewed from OkukinunumaEarly morning on Okukinunuma amrshlandOkukinunuma marshland early morningCrossing Okukinunuma marshland early morning - 1Crossing Okukinunuma marshland early morning - 2Crossing Okukinunuma marshland early morning - 4

Then it was time to go down this humid world towards Okukinu-onsen to warm in the very nice hot spring bath of Hacchō-no-yu (八丁の湯). On the way down we met many hikers we were going up to the marshland for the day. I was very sorry for them. They had missed the best part of the show.

wet trail down to Okukinu-onsen - 2wet trail down to Okukinu-onsen - 1

Maps

Necessary maps are:
山と高原地図、1:50000、尾瀬(燧ケ岳・至仏山)Yama-to-Kōgen-chizu, Oze (Hiuchigatake – Shibutsusan),

1/25000地形図、至仏山、日光15号-2、 NI-54-29-15-2 (Shibutsusan, Nikkō 15-2, NI-54-29-15-2),
1/25000地形図、燧ヶ岳、日光11号-3、 NI-54-29-11-3 (Hiuchigatake, Nikkō 11-3, NI-54-29-11-3),
1/25000地形図、川俣温泉、日光11号-2、 NJ-54-29-11-2 (Kawamata-onsen, Nikkō 11-2, NJ-54-29-11-2),
1/25000地形図、三平峠、日光11号-4、 NJ-54-29-11-4 (Sanpei-tōge, Nikkō 11-4, NJ-54-29-11-4)

 

Elevation Profile

GPX file for GPS:oze-okukinu.gpx

Itinerary

I like the idea of linking Oze to Okukinunuma and, but his is something very personal, think it is a very nice looking itinerary on the map. As mentionned above, outside of the marshland, the entire itinerary crosses a deep forest that has strictly no view to offer. Hiking it by very good weather is a bit of a waste to my opinion. You should better take advantage of the good weather to hike a trail to passes by summits offering panoramic views and do this one, protected in the forest when the weather’s bad. Especially as marshland are the most beautiful when it rains, or even better, just when the rains stops and humidity’s fog clears of.

The trail between Ozenuma and Okukinunuma is not often hiked and many trees are scattered across it but it is well marked. Prepare to be alone and deal by yourself with whatever happens. There is a water source between Kuroiwayama (黒岩山) and Kinunumayama that should allow you to refill with water.

Useful Information

You fill find all the useful information (lodges, access, security, maps, hot springs…) about the Oze area in this article and about Okukinu valley in this article.

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