Monday morning. First day back to work in two weeks.
“Hey honey, can I ask a weird favour?”
A cautious reply, “A weird favour?”
I sheepishly pleaded, “Would you mind running upstairs and grabbing my work shirt?”
My calfs are still screaming.
A few days ago I got home from a three day hike in the mountains along the prefectural borders of Yamanashi and Nagano. It was a great trip, and my legs were helping keep the memories fresh.
Thursday had forecast rain until early afternoon, and then a mix of cloud and sunshine from Friday to Sunday.
I set my sights on reaching the peak of three mountains on the Hyakumeisan (100 Famous Mountain of Japan) list.
My planning seemed sound. I would get a late start Thursday and hike an hour from the trail head to the hut at Fujimidaira. I would camp there for the night to let the mountain dry after a day of rain. Friday I would get an early start, climb Mt. Mizugaki and Mt. Kinpu, and camp in the trees somewhere after Mt. Kinpu, either Asahitake or Asahikoge. Saturday morning I would hike to Mt. Kobushi and make camp at the hut about 20 minutes beyond the peak. Sunday I would do the descent down to the bus stop that would take me home.
I had it all wrong.
Thursday morning I caught the train to Nirasaki station. There is a shopping mall with a grocery store across the road from the station, so I ran over to grab a few forgotten items, and was back in time for the 12:40 bus (platform 2) bound for Mizugakisanso. The long, windy, bumpy bus ride took just over an hour. After making stops at Heidi’s Village and a few hot springs, we finally arrived at the trail head. I was the only person on the bus, but the driver still delivered his monologues at each station, offering travel suggestions, sight seeing hints, and well wishes as I got off the bus.
The only other person I saw on Thursday was the proprietor at Mizugakisanso. He was a mid-thirties gentleman who was surprised to see me get off the bus. I asked him about filling up my water bottles, but he suggested that I use the fresh water source just before the mountain hut about an hour up the trail. I thanked him for the suggestion, filled in my hiking itinerary card (which is used by search and rescue) and was on the trail by 2:00.
It was a wonderful walk from the trail head. A great warm up with views of Mizugaki peaking through the clouds, the smell of a freshly watered forest, and the peace and calm of the wind blowing through the trees.
After around 40 minutes I made it to the water source, and moments later I was at Fujimidaira hut.
It was still only 3:00, and I was just finding my legs. I decided to abandon my plan and push on towards Mt. Mizugaki. I figured I could hang my hammock in some trees along the way.
My map claimed it was 30 minutes to Momotaro’s rock, and then another 90 minutes up to the peak of Mt. Mizugaki. I arrived at Momotaro’s rock at around 3:20. The rock is named after the Japanese folk tale of a boy that is born from a giant peach. The rock is distinctly round with a crack running through it. People have placed sticks along the edge to keep it from falling apart 🙂
I was making good time, so decided to go for it. I knew sunset was 5:30, so if it took me 90 minutes, I would still have time to hang the hammock.
At one point the trail made a very obvious change. What was soft, wooden trail was now rocks, boulders, and hidden paths accented with chains and ladders. It was clear that I was going up the side of a rocky mountain.
After bouldering up the path, I arrived at a short ladder that helped me over the last of the rocks, and opened up into a small tree line and then, suddenly, I was standing on the top of Mt. Mizugaki. The view was breath taking as the wind chased the clouds across the late afternoon sky.
I took it all in with a smile, snapped some photos, took a quick video, and then set myself to the business of finding a place for my hammock.
The wind was blowing at a steady howl, and the tree line wasn’t offering too many options for an even hang. I settled on two tress that were uneven, but well spaced. I quickly put up the tarp and hammock, made dinner, changed into my warm clothes, and settled in for the night.
I was excited to see the sunrise with that view of Mt. Fuji in the morning.
To be continued…