Summer Journal 2007

HIAQ & JAM-OFF

October 5th 2007

hakuba japan logo

The long weekend of September 22nd-24th saw the fourth installment of Evergreens yearly summer adventure race and music extravaganza, the HIAQ (Hakuba International Adventure Quest) and JAM OFF (Japan Alps Music & Outdoor Freedom Festival).

jamoff 2007 logo

Base camp was the Hakuba Alps Auto Camp Site, beside the Matsukawa River with an amazing view of Hakuba san-zan, the three peaks. (beautiful photo courtesy Sarah Mulholland, come home soon!).

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The idea behind this event is to combine a multi-sport adventure race in which teams challenge themselves and each other in and around Hakuba, with a 3 day festival incorporating a variety of music, food, workshops and this year a graffiti (sorry, live art) workshop and an on-site mini-ramp, skate session and competition brought to us by the infamous U39.

Saturday teams arrived and got straight into preparing for the event (though the reigning champions were noticeably absent, some secret training methods perhaps?) with a mountain bike workshop, orienteering instruction and kayak practice at Lake Aokiko.

Meanwhile back at base camp the avo saw DJ Mighty Mark on the 1s and 2s and several live performances. We had Hitohiro Fukase on Jazz Piano, some hip swinging action from our Hula girls and rock-a-billy styles courtesy of The Fats. Dinner was a mean bbq courtesy of Sakiko and Hakuba Alps Backpackers. Primo vege mex wrap came my way. The nights entertainment was a mad varied line-up. Zion Hi-Fi and their reggae styles, Influence covering everything from Limp Bizkit’s albums, Tengaku and Real Mission with some good beats and vocals, and the highlight for me the Ras Kanto bringing some late-night roots vibe Dubsensamania. Race competitors were noticeably absent come this time. I guess everyone was in bed preparing for the next day. Not to worry, Toshi the sound-cat and our very own Dave represented til the early hours.

evergreen activities

Event day…competitors met at base camp and were swiftly shuttled to the start point, Aokiko. From there what happened is unknown to me, as I was holding down the fort back at Auto Camp chilling to the sounds of Mighty Mark, Matsuzawa Shinichi, The Fats and DJ Highly, however its safe to assume there was a fair bit of kayaking, navigating, mountain-biking, orienteering, river walking, running, rope-balancing and sweat spurred on by the univeral calls “Ganbatte!”, “Hayaku!”, and “Hurry up you slow b#$t@r&!”.

First past the post was last years reigning champions Jason “King” Jansen and Michael “Machine” Farley. Check these in-the-office photos (thanks google)…they don’t look so tough do they? But in action they are a force to be reckoned with!

Before:


Jason Jansen

micheal farley
Micheal Farley

After
finishing the hakuba race

hakuba race

Second place and only 3 minutes behind was our best-dressed secret, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.

girls on bikes

Coming in third we had a single male who had lost his team-mate somewhere in the struggle to succeed (team-spirit at its greatest). Forced to retreat in search of said lost team mate…lets leave it at that.

evergreen outdoor center

The rest of the teams came in pretty spread out after that, and come 6:00 we were still waiting on 2 groups who came quietly over the finish line in the dark spurred on by some heavy cheering from the uketsuke tent. Well done to everyone for completing the course and thank you to all teams and volunteer check-point staff who waited patiently for all the teams to pass.

Of course we had some dope prizes this year too including simple shoes flip-flops, boot-liners, haglofs bags and The North Face sleeping bags and some stylie t-shirts from Rapie; straps and shirts from Garage 902 ( i caught one with my crutch, smooth bro); a dope hoodie from Quicksilver; free accomodation at Snowbeds; full day Canyoning & Rafting at Canyons; Hats signed by Tony Hawk from The Boarding Co.; rafting tickets from HAC; tune-up from Ultra Grip; and from the store-houses of EOC we had SOS shovels and probes, aqua pack bags, MTB gloves and some winter amp-up DVD’s. Thanks to all our sponsors!

evergreen outdoor center

Nightfall brings all kinds of creatures, as do large moons, and Sunday night was no different. We had Sabunyuma, DJ’s Shakti, Oki, Tommy, Takahashi and Yuchee with MC Brim Warr thrown in there.

Of course if you knew what was what at this time you woulda been at the mini-ramp skate jam and comp drinking cups of Jack Daniel’s on the house courtesy of Tsunami and checking out some smooth skating by some Omachi/Hakuba representers.

skateboard in hakuba japan

Plenty of prizes here too the main one being the Tony Hawk signed caps..and everyone loves a prize toss.

This night wound up drinking Heineiken’s on Kazuma (Go Mominoki!) inspired by the rantings of the Jack-fueled Tsunami.

evergreen outdoor center

Monday was wind-down day. Continuing on some of the workshops from the previous day where were saw Sabunyuma’s dance workshop and Yo-chan’s chapati-making along with morning yoga (maybe? was anyone awake?), Sabunyuma’s drum workshop, Sweetriders MTB workshop, Rob’s didgeridoo workshop, a pachika workshop, and Mami-chan’s dream-catcher workshop. The tattoo dudes were still drawing blood and the live-art wall was bling-ed out by now too..

graphic art in hakuba japan

skateboard in hakuba japan

Music was courtesy the still-charging DJ Mighty Mark, Martin & Sho, the long-straight-black hair to her knees Mihhi, and of course the Almighty Jam-Off Jammers fronted by our very own James.

James in rock-mode

james on the guitar

The closing ceremony brought the sky down as Sabunyuma’s final drum and dance session got everybody at the party dancing and holding hands in the rain. Freedom Festival’s Finest.

Big Shout-Outs to all the competitors, all the guests, all the volunteers, all the musicians, all the stall-holders, everyone who ran a workshop, all our sponsors, the owner of the white dog, and Dave and the Evergreen crew.

Personal favourites…punch-permed ojisan getting tattoed, Ras Kanto on guitar, solo-dude crossing the line minus team-mate, Yo-chan’s curry, Cafe Puri-puri, skate-jam, Will on security, and Tsunami’s bottle of Jack Daniels. Looking back, event was fat, see you all next year when The Insurgents will return full-force.

The above article was written for EOC by an anonymous ex-staff member. All opinions expressed are those of the author.

Summer Vacation (but not for us)

August 17th 2007

japan sea swimming

smimming in the japan sea by itoigowa

Obon is winding down, but summer vacation will still last a few more weeks. I have been spending every day in the canyon and most nights giving hotaru (firefly) tours at the lake. Lucky for me I love my work – thanks to the customers.

In my past life I was a web-developer but I can’t remember even one time that a client let out an exuberant “Whoo Hooo!” when I made them a pull-down menu. In the canyon I can’t even count the hoots of joy. Its so great to work with/for people who are actually having fun! I don’t spend all my time in the canyon, however. In the beginning of August I was having a blast with a group of kids and their parents from nearby Tokyo at a family camp put on by Gateway International and Evergreen. The camp was aimed at families, offering a chance for the parents to focus on their own well-being (yoga, tai chi, etc…) while we teach the older kids about the water-cycles:

swim in sea of japan

camping in japan

These photos are from a day spent travelling from nearby the start of the Hime River, to where it empties into the Japan Sea where we built a drift-wood fire and cooked homemade and took time to take a dip. The next day we took the kids for a little paragliding to simulate what rain must feel like falling from the sky.

japan ocean pictures

oceanside sea of japan

Beating the Summer Heat

August 1st 2007

canyon tours in nagano japan

Hows that Tokyo heat?

As I write this here in our comfortably un-air-conditioned office at the base of Happo-one in the Hakuba valley, it is 31 degrees in the heart of Tokyo, and I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how humid it is.

You couldn’t pay me to go back there again after last weekend when I found myself in Fujino (mountains just on the outskirts of Tokyo). I almost died from the heat and humidity. The attendees from Tokyo however marveled at how “cool” the mountain air was!!!

waterfall in tokyo

That’s why I love my job so much – making it possible for people to escape the Tokyo summer and have fun in one of Hakuba’s snow-melt canyon rivers.

japan river canyon

river in japan canyon

japan river play

rope swing in japan river

These photos are from the past few days when the water level has been perfect for family adventures, the sun has been up, and I was even able to take a dip without my wet-suit yesterday. Of course, for the tour I did wear my suit – can’t have the guide getting hypothermia now can we? (that’s me in the yellow helmet below)

yellow helmet in the river

The Rainy Season is Over

August 1st 2007

canoe ride in hakuba japan

The rainy season is over. Last week we were blessed with the first glimpse of Mt. Shirouma’s summit looking up from Hakuba valley. For the past month (or longer) anything higher than the ski slopes of Happo One have been covered with dark clouds.

Yesterday’s weather was equally amazing and many people took advantage of it for canoeing and kayaking at lake Aokiko. We even had one of our new trips for this year – the explorer canoe picnic tour. Imagine taking a leisurly ride in an extremely stable canoe capable of fitting up to 12 passengers with a stop for a delicious home-made picnic in a shady cove.

canoe in hakuba japna

japan canoe

Keeping Busy in June

July 13th 2007

canyon river in hakuba japan

The busiest of the busy season is just about to begin – which is not to say that we haven’t been keeping busy all through June. When we weren’t playing canoe tag with groups of up to 60 wild junior high school students on Lake Aokiko, or guiding clients passed the permanent snow fields of the 3000m Mt. Shirouma, we were consumed by staff training.

hiking hakuba mountains

The pre-season training started simple with a one day refresher of canoe and kayak rescues on Lake Aokiko (being efficient with your water rescue comes in handy when you have twenty kids who want to tip over… all at the same time). Decked out in our canyoning wetsuits, we eagerly plunged into the still frigid waters, taking advantage of this opportunity to get in the first eskimo rolls of the season.

I, being a new guide at Evergreen this season, joined Sam, Keigo, and Roddy for a road trip to Gunma prefecture and the the beautiful valleys of Minakami where we took part in a in a week-long professional canyoning guide training course with the Canyons team. Under the watchful eye of Yuji, a veteran canyoning guide (the first to be certified by the CIC in Japan), we rappelled, belayed, climbed, knotted and shunted our way up over picnic tables, up twenty meter bridges, and of course down waterfalls.

Having just completed an intensive back-country emergency medicine course in the US last summer, I stayed home while most of the Evergreen staff headed back to Minakami a week later to once again join some of the Canyons staff for a one week Wilderness Alert First Aid Training course.

I did, however, join in two days ago to practice scenarios of possible accidents we might run into here on Evergreen’s home-turf. While this strengthened our confidence that we can handle anything thrown at us, we are just as confident that, thanks to this preparation, we wont have to because every simulation we run we are that much more prepared to prevent accidents from even happening in the first place.

And now, dear reader, I must leave you to prepare for an afternoon canyoning trip that starts in just two hours. Training was fun, but not as fun as using what we have learned!

Canyoning in Hakuba

The British School’s 3 Day Canoe Trip

May 1st 2007

The British School’s river canoe trip on day two. They went through class 2 rapids today.
Everyone had a great day.
Well done everybody!!
Kouji

canoe trip in hakuba