Fall Hike

View from the top of Mt Omote

For a lot of reasons, this Fall has been hard for me. Not anything in particular, I just think the isolation and lack of interaction with colleagues or peers makes me lazy and disengaged. It seems that a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other attitude works best to get me out of this type of slump and it seems to be working for me again.

Last Sunday I drove out to Ume, the town we lived in when Nina was born. Ume used to be an independent town, but 6 or 7 years ago it (and several other surrounding towns and villages) was incorporated into Saiki City.  It’s a mountainous area traditionally known for logging, wild meat (boar and venison) and shiitake mushrooms. The lush landscape attracted us there 25 years ago and it still takes my breath away.

The rope at the base of Mt Takanosu peak

I climbed Mt. Omote 小表山 (712 m) and then to just below the summit of Mt. Takanosu 鷹巣岳(720m), but decided against using the plastic knotted rope to pull myself up to the top. With no gloves or helmet, I felt it was better to be cautious. I am getting used to hiking alone, but it is hard to take risks when there is no one to  check in with. The trail itself was so elusive-I had to follow trees marked with red plastic tape because there really wasn’t any well-traveled path. At first I felt a little panicked that I would get lost, but I moved slowly and kept checking my bearings and eventually made it to to a ridge. Probably two weeks past the peak of the autumn leaves, but there were still spots of orange and red.

Can you find the trail? Look for the red tape.

I ate my lunch at the top and after hiking back to the car, I drove out to Fujikawachi Gorge (藤河内渓谷)-a 20 kilometer one-lane windy road drive. Arrived safely, thanks to my St. Christopher medal and our Shinto Omamori for kotsu-anzen from Takachiho. Parked the car in a spot where the road widened a bit and hiked down to….

Fujikawachi Gorge

ice cold, blue stream cascading down rust-colored rocks, yellow leaf reflections crisp autumn breeze, sun-dappled path…

The sun slipped down behind the hill and it quickly got cold. I ran back up to the car and drove about 5 minutes down to Yutopia (湯ーとぴあ)a hot spring bath-420 yen for relaxation and bliss.

Perfect one-day getaway and one more footstep forward.

Want to mention a really good movie we saw… Japanese title: 運命じゃない人 unmei ja nai hito. English title: A Stranger of Mine (2005). The story develops with a continual change of perspective. The same scene repeated with another minute earlier or another one later…. broken hearts, yakuza and duplicity-lots of deja-vu. Check it out.

Care-giving takes a lot of energy and although I thought I would eventually get accustomed to the routine, everything gets harder and there really isn’t a routine.  Jiro’s mom is now going to daycare 4 days a week and probably after January we’ll add one more day. We just signed her up for a short stay next month (3 days- 2 nights). We are going to Naoshima!

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