Well, the smiling faces you see in the photo gallery below should tell you all you need to know about this day. An absolute blast had by all!
The staff of Evergreen Outdoor Centre picked us up bright and early on, well, a somewhat bleak and grey day for the most part. James drove us out to Aoki-ko (Aoki Lake) and proceeded to get us set up for a morning of canoeing. With no experts among us unfortunately (us guests that is) James did a good job of coaching us in the basics, making sure we were comfortable, and then we were on our way. Aoki-ko is a beautiful lake, blissfully untouched by motorized boat traffic, and is a perfect place to paddle and float away enjoying the surrounding scenery (I'm looking forward to the firefly viewing tours in late July and August).
James kept up a pretty good patter about various parts of the lake, and he seems to share an affinity with the fish inhabiting the lake, as he seemed to know where they all lived. The clarity of the lake allowed for lots of house calls from above and I now think I know how to tell a black bass from a carp, though I don't know them all individually by first name as James apparently does. We had a four year old in our midst, and again, James demonstrated an affinity with children even more than with fish, and helped keep us all entertained with a variety of "lake games". The coffee during our little shore break wasn't the best I ever had, but hey, James, you can't win them all :)
After cruising back into the main landing, we were driven back to Evergreen's base, near the Kokusai lift on Happo, for a delicious lunch.
Then the 'intense' fun began. Unfortunately, I had to bow out owing to a nagging knee injury, so I spent the rest of the afternoon helping to babysit the kids... that was intense, let me tell you!!! The rest of the crew joined up with another group that was in for the day, and proceeded to learn the art and the technique of canyoning. I have had the pleasure of going on a canyoning trip with Evergreen a couple of years ago, so I do feel somewhat qualified to comment on the following, but to be honest, the water looks WAY bigger this time. Sad to have missed out!
Mako and Jon from Evergreen led them through the safety procedures which help you enjoy the thrills without causing danger to yourself or others and then .. they were away!
After that... yeah, again, the pictures speak for themselves I think. Big water... big jumps.. big slides... big grins and big big fun! They all arrived back a few hours later and they still couldn't wipe the dopey grins off of their faces. Did I get any sympathy for my efforts... well, a little.
Dave Enright and the crew at Evergreen have been leading adventures like this, and others, in the Hakuba area for more years than I care to count. They took excellent excellent care of us and I'm pretty sure my friends from Tokyo will be up again soon. Check out Evergreen's website if you'd like to get some of this action for yourself!
The action is fairly intense in the canyon (varying a bit depending on season and waterflow). Children of a certain age and size are welcome and safe to participate however... consult Evergreen for more details.