By Kyle Buck
Every year around July or August, the earth travels through the debris field of Comet Swift-Tuttle. The rock and ice that this comet leaves behind spectacularly fall to earth in the Perseids Meteor Shower. This year, I went to Mt. Hakkoda in search of the best view of these shooting stars.
Late Friday evening, I set out with a small group of friends to hike up Mt. Hakkoda. We started from Sukayu Onsen and hiked up the valley trail.
There are two excellent trails that can be accessed from this parking lot. I usually hike up the swamp trail and down the valley. But since it was already getting dark, we decided to head straight for the cabin that is at the top of the valley trail.
Since it was the time of day when animals tend to be very active, I was a little worried about running into a bear on the hike up. So, we made sure to have some bear bells and I tried to recite as much of Monty Python and the Holy Grail as I could. We didn’t come across any mammals, except for a couple of other hikers, but we did see some rather interesting little wildlife like this frog and strange insect.
Near the cabin at the top of the trail, there is a wide open area with a spring that we decided would be excellent for viewing the meteor shower. We sat down to play some games and wait for the moon to set.
We had excellent weather for the entire trip. The night was cool and completely clear. Before the moon set, we were able to see several shooting stars. But after the moon went below the horizon, the sky lit up with an unreal number of stars and meteors!
We counted roughly 150 shooting stars before we called it a night and headed into the cabin. It was a beautiful night and a wonderful hike. I highly recommend this area for anybody who wants to go stargazing.