I set off from Mt Tōno-dake with renewed determination. On my way up here I had seen a sign pointing towards Mt Nabewari indicating 2.2km so I feel confident another hour of hiking is all that’s needed to reach my ultimate destination.
This trail is especially beautiful as the clouds provide a wonderful quality to the light. It’s incredibly dream-like and surreal. Almost as if I’m in a fairytale or some Tolkien-esque world.
At last, the pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow! The place is nothing to look at with the heavy mist shrouding any view.
The collection of ramshackle buildings does little to deter my enthusiasm.
My bowl of Nabeyaki Udon is everything I had hoped for and more. Hearty. Filling. Nourishing. Delicious. Well worth the climb!
Yet I’m aware that time is marching on so I choose not to linger, as tempting as it is. I guess it’ll take me about 2 1/2 hours to climb down and although there’s plenty of time before sunset, I am alone and anything could happen.
Not surprisingly the descent has its own challenges. A different set of muscles come into play. What’s more, there is no one else on the path so I have to rely completely on my own instinct and wits to find my way down.
At some point I must have strayed from the correct trail because it appears I’m on ground that doesn’t look like it’s been disturbed by a great many hikers. Perhaps I’m just imagining it but I get the uneasy feeling that I may in fact be lost. Not completely lost. Just a little off-track.
But I have a map and plenty of daylight and I know the way is down.
At one point I think to myself that I’ve had enough. But what’s funny is that I don’t have the option to give up. It isn’t like I am going up the mountain and I can quit and simply return to the start.
An eagle cries out overhead. And large multi-coloured beetles scurry across my path.
By now I can also hear two rivers either side of the spur I’m on. Reassuring in their sound, they help me find my bearings on the map.
I contemplate how it’s possible to have such a different experience from someone else who has climbed the same mountain only about a week or so earlier.
And I’m particularly thankful for her warnings about leeches. It means I keep checking my socks and shoes regularly and this pays off as I catch a couple of the big blood-suckers before they can latch on and do any damage!
After about 2 1/2 hours I eventually break free from the confines of the mountain trail to find myself on a road. I ask a guy on a motorcycle if I’m heading in the right direction and he assures me that it’ll take me there but he’s surprised that I would want to walk for 1 1/2 hours. Having just hiked for 6 1/2 hours and covered about 17km I’m not too fussed. Really. Especially when it’s leech-free!
I’m actually pleasantly surprised that I find myself in a rural part of the countryside.
Here and there I see a variety of planted crops: rice; eggplants; sunflowers.
A tiny green frog is well camouflaged so I’m lucky I notice it at all.
Some unusual sculptures too. Who would have thought?
I suppose getting lost can have some wonderful, completely unexpected rewards.
I can’t wait for next week’s adventure.
level of difficulty : 13/20 (combined Mt Tōno-dake + Mt Nabewari climb)
duration : 7.5 hours