With the help of the amazingly helpful tourist info lady and her husband, John, who runs the backcountry store in Furano, I planned this awesome day of touring.
From the parking lot, you cross a creek (not frozen, snow bridges for part), skirt one ridge then climb up the second ridge. According to John, the avalanche forecast was low (zero, he joked) (disclaimer: you should use your own skills and judgement to determine whether conditions are safe). The whole area is a set of ridges running north/northwest. The top can be windy and there are wind deposits. Trees are dense for awhile but become widely spaced as you get toward the top. We never made it to true alpine on either of our two laps.
This area isn’t a secret. I had purchased the last of 40 topos from the backcountry store (There’s a website that has the topo data free). We ran into a group of 6 women, a group of Italians and a couple from bothell that had the same skis as us (crazy, right?). We didn’t make it beyond the second ridge so if you do, you’ll find it much quieter. We also learned there’s a public bus three times a day that can give you some extra very for ~200 yen or Toyota touring is possible (not sure if this is exactly the same slope but it’s not far).
The best part about this location is all the hot springs. There’s a free “natural” Hot spring, the Fukiage Spa, (the pools have been built up and railings and such added) about 2 km from the parking lot for the skiing. Also nearby is a nice hot springs lodge with an onsen facility and nice kitchen. In the outdoor hot spring, we met a couple from Bar Harbor, Maine, who were staying there. They had spent last winter skiing Myoko Kogen for the season and raved about it. Apparently, there a reasonably priced season pass that covers the ski grounds. This year, snow conditions made them go to Hokkaido instead. We had fun chatting with them in the hot spring for awhile. The second pool had a Japanese family with kids and everyone in bathing suits, so we avoided it. They had brought their own pop up dressing room tent.
We rounded out the evening in Furano eating out of the local food market and the 7-11, where we parked overnight. We tried a long spring roll stuffed with tomato and corn, namara-bo, served with a local soda, then some on sale strawberries and tofu.
Rob found a new favorite ice cream bar.
The one problem with parking overnight is that the plow drivers inevitably comes in the middle of the night and makes a huge racket. This is as much an issue in the free lots. Early one morning, the plow driver at a michi no ekki woke us up to have us move the car. At least this dude just plowed around us.