Early riser for the third morning straight.

The thick grass beneath the tent at my roadside encampment made for a sumptuously satisfying night’s sleep.  No doubt two days of hard graft in the ledger helped as well.  An hour or so later, packed and strolling down to the shores of Shirakaba-ko, I was relieved to have thrown in the towel and pitched the tent where I had.  The authorised campsite turned out to be nothing more than a broad gravel pit at the side of the road and fair game for any of the local hoons.  A bed of nails at a would have yielded a better night’s sleep.

Kiri-ga-mine, shrouded in fog, rose above the township on the other side of Lake Shirakaba.  I crossed a bridge and set about hunting out the street that would lead me up to the mountain trail and the summit dubbed Kuruma-yama.  As it turned out the hike was merely a sorry slog through a massive ski complex that stretched all the way up to the summit itself.

On top the fogs rolled by, riding a strengthening wind and blocking any views down to the lake.  In keeping with the raped and plundered theme gripping the mountain, something best described as an enormous black box with a white ball on top had been plonked up there with me.  It was larger than your typical house.  The ball, I’d suggest, the size of a front end loader.   I assumed it was some kind of weather station.  Though a portal to the fourth dimension seemed feasible. Dumping my pack I walked around it a couple of times and shot off a few snaps of the strange looking thing.  It was all locked up and I was left to wonder if it was bigger on the inside than out.

Over at the summit marker I set up the camera on its mini tripod and posed a pose until the timer allowed a shot to fire off.  Fifty-one done.  I was knocking these mountains off like tin ducks at the funfair.  Forty-nine to go sounded pretty damn sweet.

I walked off the less developed Western side of the peak, albeit along a service road leading to the top of the ski run.  Kuruma-yama indeed.

Northward bound yet again, I strolled the boardwalks lining the Yashima Marsh.  The highland fogs had cleared allowing views across its golden grassed expanse and back to Kiri-ga-mine; autumn tints urging  me ever onward.

From Yashima I stepped onto the smooth, pale grey tarmac of the Venus Line, a fancily monikered tourist road that wound through the high ground between Kiri-ga-mine and Utsukushi-ga-hara, the next mountain on my hitlist.  I understood Utsukushi was equally as accessible as Kiri-ga-mine and, I feared, similarly accosted by the trappings of progress…



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