The Kami-no-Roka continued: journey to the notional source
This was the day when we would track the Kurobe down to his source. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't going to cooperate. Without enthusiasm, we stepped out of the hut into a grey drizzle. Skeins of mist drifted through the trees. The only consolation, as we made our way upriver, was that in our wetsuits we were perfectly attired for a typhoon.
A knight’s move up and across a wet slab marked the trip's last climbing manoeuvre. It brought us to Akagi-sawa De-ai, where a large tributary flows into the main river. In fair weather, with the morning sun filtering over the top of its waterfall, this may be one of the most beautiful places on the planet. In the rain, the surrounding grove of cedars plunged it into an even deeper shadow.
Now, leaving the gorge behind, we scrambled uphill through a maze of white boulders. According to Kanmuri Matsujiro, the view should open out here but all we could see were bales of mist rolling across aptly named Kumo no Daira, the Field of Clouds. We climbed into autumn, the foliage turning brighter shades of red and gold as we moved higher.
After five hours of boulder-hopping, we were no longer in a river. The once-mighty Kurobe had dwindled to a mountain stream. As if to compensate, the drizzle had now strengthened into a downpour. We came to the place where a hiking path crosses the torrent. Ahead, our thoroughfare of boulders receded away into the heart of a dark cloud.
“Well, what do you reckon?” I asked Sawa Control. It was his Quest for the Origin of the Kurobe, after all. “I think we should deem this the source,” he replied with CEO-like decisiveness. After an obligatory Furthest East photo, we turned right, towards Mitsumata-renge. We reached the hut just as the downpour worked itself up into a regular storm. It was time for a cup of tea.