Mt. Kai-Komagatake/Mt. Senjo

Map number 41, hiked September 29 – October 1, 2017

Kai-Komagatake is description number 77, Senjo is description 78

For this hike, the road to Kitazawa is not open to the public, so like most of the hikes in the Minami Alps, you have to take a bus. I think that you might be able to take the bus from Ashiyasu to Hirogawara, then on to Kitazawa because there is a road, but I parked at the free parking lot at Senryuso (35.7681203, 138.0945229), and took a bus to Kitazawa (35.7422704, 138.2135721) from there.

I drove up on a Friday afternoon, it was about 3 hours to get from Sagamihara area to Senryuso. When I got there, the parking lot was mostly empty, so I enjoyed the sounds of the fast-moving stream and read a book while the sunset reflected off of Kai-Komagatake.

The next morning, I awoke to the sounds of cars pulling into the parking lot, and lights shinning through my windows at around 3 or 4 am. By the time I ate breakfast and packed up, the parking lot was nearly full – about 100 cars. There were two lines at the bus stop, one to buy your ticket, and one to wait for the bus. I was able to buy my bus ticket in the machine at the bus stop the evening before so I only had to wait in the bus line.

Word of advice, people get really tricky when it comes to waiting in line, borderline rude. They’ll do one of two things. The first is that if they came will several people, one person will wait in the bus line while the others get the tickets. When they get the tickets, they move over to the bus line, cutting in front of whoever was already there and got their tickets ahead of time. The other thing is they will put their backpack in the bus line, while they wait in the ticket line. Then they happily move over to their saved spot in the bus line. I personally think this is unfair, and though it wasn’t a huge issue for me on this hike because I was still able to get on the second or third bus, read my description of this for when I went hiking with my son in the Chuo Alps (Mt. Kiso-Komagatake/Mt. Utsugi).

Now I’m on the bus, going up this really small, windy, road, and similarly as my description for Mt. Kita/Mt. Aino, I got bus sick. Didn’t throw up, but didn’t feel too great either. When we finally got to Kitazawa pass, I wasted no time starting the hike. My plan was to hike to Kai-Komagatake, then hike back down to Kitazawa, then hike up to Senjo hut, stay for the night, hike back down and take the bus back the next day.

There are 2 routes up, one trail starts pretty much right where the bus drops you off at. The other is about a 5 or 10 minute walk up the road. According to map time, they both take the same amount of time. As you get close to the peak of Kai-Komagatake, be careful to avoid the dotted-line trail, unless you have bouldering gear. I got confused at this point because I thought I was on the solid-line trail and when I reached a point that I saw an arrow painted on the rock straight up, I said no way, and headed back down to find the easier trail.

Before the peak there are a few rocky sections where you’ll want to put your hiking sticks away and use your hands. Then as you get higher, you’ll want to take your hiking sticks back out because its very fine broken up pebbles that are quite slippery, and you don’t want to fall here.

The view from the top was pleasant. The sun was a little too high for the dramatic effect, and there was some overcast, but I could still see Fuji and Mt. Kita from here.

I boiled water for coffee and had a snack at the top, then headed down. I was back at Kitazawa in about 2 hours, which was around 11 am. I got hungry and had some ramen and a coke at a hut at Kitazawa Pass, then headed up the trail to Mt. Senjo. There are also 2 trails to Senjo that start at Kitazawa Pass. One is right across the street from where the bus drops you off, and the other is 5-10 minutes down the road. I took the trail down the road this time. The route up on this trail is mostly uneventful, and I think the majority of the hikers take the other trail right at the bus stop, so this trail was practically deserted.

The trail continues up, past a very tranquil looking hut that has a large container full of beer, with running water to keep it cool. If only I didn’t have such a steep hike ahead of me. Just before you get to the Senjo hut, the trail gets really rocky and steep. You can see the hut from below, but the distance is deceiving, you still have quite a bit of climbing to do.

I finally got to the hut and checked in. Even though the sun was shining, it was really cold and windy up there, but the hut had a nice pellet stove, perfect for having one of the Dale’s Pale Ale that I brought up with me. My original plan was to get up early and catch the sunrise on Mt. Senjo, but I figured that would be the plan of just about everyone else in this hut and the other two huts down the mountain. I prefer the sunset anyway. I headed up. It only took about 20 or 30 minutes to get to the top. When I reached the sign post, there were only 1 or 2 others up there, and the view was spectacular. This is that dramatic effect I was looking for, and that exuberant feeling is a major reason why I hike.

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