Nakabusa Hot Spring is known as a lodge with an abundant hot spring yield. The lodge has 16 independent hot spring heads and wells, the largest number among hot spring lodges in Japan. Behind the Lodge there was Yakeyama, meaning burning mountain, where geothermal power is great and everyone can steam egg, potato and other food just by burying things. Nakabusa Hot Spring is also famous as one of the bases of trekking and climbing for the North Alps of Japan. The lodge is located at the trail head for Tsubakuro-dake (Mt. Swallow).
During winter it completely becomes isolated from outside due to road closure. Those who want to climb Tsubakuro-dake (Mt. Swallow) during winter or who want to experience the hot spring need to start from the closed Miyagi Gate to go for 4-hour walk to reach the trail head or Nakabusa Hot Spring Lodge.
But I have come across a good idea. Why don't use a bike with stud tires instead of walking a distance of 12 km? Though the closed road may covered by snow, Brompton and I can go through it by using Schwalbe Winter Tires with studs.
route: JR Azumioiwake Station (551m above the sea-level) to Nakabusa Hot Spring (1,462m)
duration: 3 and half hours
max. difference of an elevation: 910m
average % of slope: total 5.1% ascent 6.5% descent 5.6%
acquired elevation: ascent 952m descent 48m
It was a first time use of the Schwalbe Winter 16 inch tires this season. Last year I used them several times and were perfect but I was a bit concerned with the condition of this challenging route. Nakabusa Hot Spring is located at 1,500 meters above the sea level. The last few miles might be snow-covered.
Early in the morning I arrived in JR Azumioiwake where was the nearest station of Nakabusa Hot Spring though it was still 17 km away to go and about 1,000 meters to ascend.
I unfolded my Brompton and left the station at 7:30 am when rain changed into snow flakes.
On the way to the hot spring, Brompton and I got through the gate of Ariake Shrine whose god was Mt. Ariake of 2,268 meters. The road to Nakabusa shares the way to Ariake Shrine.
30 minutes later, we were arriving at Miyagi Gate which is closed for cars due to snow during winter. Only hikers and bikes can go.
Brompton and I entered the world of monochrome.
Snow coverage gradually increased as an elevation rose.
The road was completely covered by snow beyond 1,000 meter high. It was too cold to use iPhone.... My iPhone 5S suddenly shut down due to extremely low temperature for its battery when I took it out from my pocket to share a snow road view with my Brompton friends....
While it was too cold for iPhone, I was sweating a lot as the steep hill with more than 10% slope continued.
Before I knew it, the sun started to shine. The weather report was correct.
However, snow was getting more and more.
At last Brompton and I were approaching the hot spring.
A little before noon, we reached Nakabusa Hot Spring.
It's time to dip myself into hot spring. I hurried to an open air bath first. Look! In the center, there was a rock-build spout. Because of high temperature over 90 degree centigrade of hot spring, it is necessary to pour it down from the top of the tower to the tub in order to cool down to about 40-43 degree.
I noticed that I was thirsty. Let's drink a bottle of S. Pellegrino as usual.
2 pm. It was about time to go down the mountain. People in the lodge gathered to say good bye to Brompton and me. A tiny snowman also made farewell to me. Thanks and see you again!
Brompton and I started downhill. It was already obscured in the Nakabusa Valley because of its deepness.
Sunset was earlier in this season. Brompton and I needed to hurry but care. The temperature was below zero. A pair of the Schwalbe Winter tires provided excellent grip and control on the icy snow road. Perfect! But I needed to control the speed and must be careful of using brake.
The beauty of the monochrome color again. Brompton in the world of "Frozen".
Due to the low temperature and snow fall, the Brompton looked like a cake covered with sugar powder.
The road surface was frozen like mirror. I needed to ride carefully even with the Schwalbe Winter.
Continued downhill. I was able to see the end of the Nakabusa Valley from the cleavage. There was sufficient sunlight outside the valley. I still have a couple of time before the sunset.
When I looked up, there was Mt. Ariake, wearing cotton clouds. It was beautiful.
We arrived at the station. Let's go home for dinner.
It was a great ride with the Schwalbe Winter in this season. The performance was perfect even under tough conditions of the hilly road with snow and ice.