Canyoning can be a sport of extremes but there are times when you don’t need to have the extreme situations to experience it. Today we are focusing on a beginner’s course with Nature Navigator in Minakami. Hanage Canyon is a simple sliding course down the main waterfall which is enjoyable for the whole family, from young to old.
Hanage Canyon, during the summer months, is beautiful. You walk to the start of the course through the woodlands. While we are a bit early in the season we can still see all the flora blooming, getting ready for the warmer months ahead. A traditional sawanobori course for many years, Hanage is a river-walking, sliding course with a few simple climbs to the main starting area.
Our guide today is Reo who is taking us along Hanage ahead of the standard opening schedule in June. We all comment on how warm it is this early in the season, but with the snow still melting the water is a bit cold. After a quick warm up and stretch we make our way along the hiking trail on the side of the river. The flow is quite strong today but in summer time it flows smoothly and gently, allowing all the family to enjoy.
Crossing the river we stop in the middle to go through the safety options and signals. The same simple guidelines apply to all canyoners and canyoning companies. After a small climb up over the boulders, we make it to one of the first sliding sections. Reo does a quick check for any new obstacles at the end of the slide that might have appeared during the winter break. He gives a quick instruction on how to slide correctly. When sliding, one of the most important points to remember is to keep your arms in front and your elbows tucked in. This way it gives your body a clean line when sliding.
After a couple of practice drops, we move on to the main section which is Hanage Waterfall. It’s a long, gentle sloping waterfall about thirty metres in length and seven meters wide is is one of the main attractions of this canyon. Today, Hanage is flowing too fast to attempt. Reo takes us up an edge and then climbs up a little bit higher and jumps across the water. Walking back down Hanage is an easy affair. Along the way we come across an old rusted piton hammered into the rock. They seem to be littered across this canyon from the sawanobori (river climbing) days.
Further back towards the car park is the final section of three slides which come together in quick succession. The water is getting quite cold now so we need to complete these as quickly as possible. There is a bit of a wait for the photographer to get into position and then we stream down. One last quick photo and we flee the cold water.
On the trail back to the car we stop to appreciate the blossoming flora. Morimoto scrapes the bark off some of the trees so we can smell it. The bark has a refreshing pungency. A good guide not only knowledgeable about the canyon, but also natural surrounds as well.
Our thanks to Nature Navigator who took us on this course.