Kumotori-san is one of Japan’s famous 100 mountains and I climbed it at the weekend! That takes my total to 4!
Saturday had a slightly challenging start, I was up early and on the first train just before 0700. It was a long journey and I didn’t get to the end of my set of train journeys until around 1000. Next step was to catch the bus, I found the stop and there wasn’t too long to wait. The bus arrived about 1 minute late and I could tell I had been in Japan for a while as I found myself looking at my watch and looking down the road in a puzzled way. The problem was I missed my stop! It was daft, the book described the name of the stop and the length of the journey, it was even announced but I didn’t get off as it was supposed to be at the bottom of a cable car and I didn’t see the cable car and only too people got off – I’d expected the bus to empty based on my very limited past experience. This meant my walk started with a 2.5km walk back down the road!
I’d been wondering whether to take the cable car or walk but given the start I decided the cable car would be a good idea, the only problem was I couldn’t find it. I started on the walk but hit a sign that said the route was closed, I couldn’t read it but the rope across the track and the picture of the washed away bridge made the message clear! There was also a sign with a scary looking bear! So I turned around to look for the cable car again. I found someone walking up when I was about half way down and asked him in my best Japanese about the cable car. I didn’t understand what he said but the message was clear – cable car no more! So back to the path!
It was a quiet walk up and I clapped my hands occasionally to warn the scary looking bear I was around! Maybe I will buy a bear bell! It was a steep wooded climb up to a shrine. A hard but good walk. I arrived at the shrine to find lots of pristine people who had driven up! I walked quickly though hoping they wouldn’t notice my sweat drenched clothes just stopping for a well earned very cold drink from a dispensing machine.
It was a challenging walk, mainly due to the heat and humidity. I don’t know what either were but I can without exaggeration say I have never sweated so much in my life! Sweat was dripping off my shorts which were soaked through and the large hankie/scarf that I was using around my neck I could wring out!
I was comforted a bit by the sight of many Japanese walkers in the same state. According to the download with my Garmin watch it was 33 C, feels like 41 C. I’m beginning to understand what everyone’s been telling me about the humid Japanese summers.
Now I was on the track proper! Only about 2 hours after I’d originally planned, good job it was a relatively short day. The path was good, very wooded as I’ve come to expect so limited long range views but great trees. I also saw three quite large deer which was a treat (and no bears which gave me some relief).
After 15km and 5.25 hours, mostly uphill I arrived at Komotori-sanso (mountain hut) my destination for the day. It was a good hut, tatami mats this time and small rooms for 6. I didn’t have dinner as the only option was hamburgers so sat outside in the late afternoon on the picnic tables and cooked. It was lovely (they also sold cold beer). I stayed until the sand flies drove me inside. Talking to the guy next to me he said he’d never seen them like it, perhaps the lack of any breeze was the problem.
I was the only Gainji I saw all day!
I went it bed just after 1900 and seemed to be the last person downstairs. I was relieved that people were still talking in my room so I got myself in bed and read for a short time before a very early night!
I didn’t set an alarm knowing that people would be up very early – and they were – 0335! In the end I decided just to get up to and I was glad I did as I got to the top of Kumotori-san before sunrise. It was beautiful, great views all around including great views across to Fuji-san. It would have been perfect except for the sand flies which had come back in huge numbers – I ended up putting my waterproof jacket on as a defence with the hood up and the cuffs tightly bound.
I stayed for quite a while at the top, it was hard to leave due to the views despite the sand flies but eventually headed on for a 20km walk onto Okutama along a great ridge and over several other peaks. Unlike a lot of the walks I’ve done I had extensive views for a lot of the way, it was lovely!