#016 – AOBA-YAMA
Snakebit in the Year of the Snake.
Lost in a midnight snowstorm on a lonely Shiga mountainside and later, lumbered with a lung that suddenly began taking on gallons of his own blood, fellow Hyakumeizan master and doyen of the ex-pat ‘Hiking in Japan‘ scene, Wes had come well and truly up against it in the first couple of months of 2013.
It made my Christmas/New Year bout with pneumonia look like nothing more than a common old cold in comparison.
The best remedy for our complaints was to get back on the horse and hit the hills as soon as possible.
It had taken something like a year of missed opportunities before Wes and I organised ourselves enough to team up and head out on a hike. Maybe the need to kickstart our years saw to it that we’d finally get out into the mountains together. At the end of March our sights converged on Aoba-yama, a rugged little peak rising above the blue waters of the Japan Sea and straddling the Kyoto-Fukui border.
As the Missus drove out of Kyoto and The Kid begrudgingly came to terms with the idea of a day away from his beloved Lego, Wes and I swapped stories of mountain and hospital misadventures.
We climbed from behind the beautiful old Matsuno Temple, up through a bamboo grove and leant into a trail flirting with vertical as it snaked up the flanks of the ancient volcano.
Traversing the crags, we knocked off Aoba’s twin peaks before luncheoning atop the second. I saved a stray moth from drowning in an old metal pot of green water, inadvertently splashing The Kid’s bento box in the process and turning him off his meal.
Wes resurrected the lad’s flagging spirits with the promise of an ice cream though a kick in the pants would surely have sufficed. Alas, any exertion on my behalf, beyond getting down the mountain, was ever so rapidly being undermined by a threatened re-emergence of the previous evening’s Mexican banquet.
Our party emerged from the bamboo at the far end of Aoba’s traverse and strolled the country roads back to the car at Matsuno. The Kid lagged – ice cream seemingly out of reach. I picked up my pace – the temple toilets seemingly similarly distant while the promise of roadside disaster loomed.
All ended well. I made the men’s room with scant time remaining to drop my strides and maneuver into position above the uncomfortable squat toilet, dispatching my load with enough thrust to send a small rocket into near Earth orbit. The Kid scored his ice cream down in town, a cold wind whipping across the bay failing to deter him.