Monday, February 15, 2010

Nihon Hyakumeizan: in search of ground truth (11)

Travelogue continued: a map misunderstanding leads to an unpleasant quarter of an hour in a snow-dusted sawa. We continue to question the Meizan status of Kuju-san ....

November 20, 9.30am: The top of Kuju-san is bleak and cold. After passing over the central summit of Nakadake, I’m just looking for the fastest way outta here. A dotted green line on the map appears to offer that.

Beware of green dotted lines. The path heads downhill, through clutching thickets of azalea bushes, just far enough to make turning back too much of a chore. Then it fades into a landslip, a cliff of rocks embedded, none too soundly, in a crumbling matrix of dark-brown ash. I avoid this hazard by taking to the stream-bed, clambering over rounded boulders. My boots skid off patches of frozen snow.

Just at the wrong moment, the sun comes out, loosing stones from the cliff. One splashes down into a nearby rockpool. I scurry across the danger zone, hoping that nothing big enough comes down to spoil my day. Much later I emerge onto the regular hiking trail. A sign points back the way I came, warning that the gully route has “dangerous places”. Or maybe just one dangerous place; you never can tell in the Japanese language.

I’m still wondering why Fukada Kyuya designated Kuju-san as one of the Hundred Most Famous Mountains in Japan ….

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