Day 110 - 0km
Here in Hikone
- "By the time I crawled out of bed, Tom had cooked up a
shed load of pancakes, Paul was happily singing in the shower
and Tim had been and come back from work. I just can't cope with
all this efficiency so early in the morning. Tom and Paul went
to Cat's and did more email, whilst I waited with Tim for a very
important parcel to arrive.
At noon the Fedex man delivered a box, the contents
of which, our team had been longing for after a blistering time
in the Southern Alps.
My mum had worked wonders for us (and our feet),
by contacting the makers of Compeed, (see
page for link) - the best blister plaster money can buy!!
She also arranged their sponsorship of the trek. Compeed's generous
support will without doubt ease and prevent much pain and probably
help speed us up too. The evening was passed eating far too much
at the same Italian restaurant that we ate at last time in Hikone."
Saturday 2nd June
Day 111 - 0km
We're still here!
Ben - "Cat kindly let me email through
the night and even gave up her bed for me. I repaid this kindness
by having a nosebleed on her duvet!
Tom and I did the shopping we needed for the
Central Alps, whilst Paul sorted out our flights, which needed
extending. Another package arrived, this time it was spare batteries
from our sponsor, Sharp, for our digital camcorder (see
page for link).
I also received some sad news from back home
in Lancaster. My friend Jo had died and I found it a complete
shock. It brought me crashing back to earth with the realisation
that life as I knew it, was still happening, but that I am not
I was glad of the good company that night and
Tim's great Chinese cooking skills."
Day 112 - 0km
We really are leaving now...
Ben - "Leaving Hikone this time was like
saying goodbye to old friends. Tim, Cat and Lynne were with us
as we packed and walked us to the station. We sat on a number
of different trains for a number of hours and arrived at our destination
at the foot of the Central Alps - a long time past our bedtime.
Sunday had drifted by and with it, so had the
end of our rest in Hikone...onto the mountains!"
Utsugi (2864m - Mt No. 26)
Monday 4th June
Day 113 - 16km
Paul – "It is often hard to get walking
again after even a normal Sunday off. Getting going after our
break in Hikone was hard work.
Having kipped under a bridge after our long
but uneventful train journey, we set off for the trail head into
the Central Alps under blazing sunshine. The trail climbed steeply
through trees at first, leaving us all drenched with sweat, so
we dumped bags and had a break at an ‘Observation Hut.’
hut was surrounded by trees, had no view and no boards to tell
us what we should be seeing, so we observed nothing, but had a
good rest. The temperature eased as we got higher and the walking
became more interesting, the path glued to the side of the ridge
winding its way ever upwards, over scrambly sections and up ladders.
We even passed a sign that told us of ‘Regular Fatalities’ on
that section of the ridge and so we all watched our step!
We broke out of the trees after a lunch break
infested with flies and a brief section of rotten snow and clinging
trees - nothing like as bad as the Southern Alps though. Once
out of the trees the views were gorgeous, the peak was visible
and the walking enjoyable on gravelly paths. Having been climbing
all day, some 2000m, we briefly considered stopping at an open
emergency hut just below the summit.
Feeling good however, we pushed on, summited
by 4:30, took our picture and headed down the steep and rocky
path to another hut nestled in a saddle of the ridge. This one
wasn’t open but they did have an emergency shack which was a little
better than squeezing into our tent. A good day: dry, long and
Kisokoma-ga-take (2956m - Mt No. 27)
Tuesday 5th June
Day 114 - 19km
- "We summited our first peak of five that day within half
an hour, climbing straight up loose grit from the hut. Ontake,
our next hyakumeizan after today’s target, could be seen floating
above the cloudy haze away to the north.
had a great day of ridge walking, no snow, only knee high trees,
plenty of ups and downs but nothing too major, a good intro back
into the hills. On the summit of the fourth and most exciting
peak, a craggy peak demanding scrambling, we met 3 mountaineering
rugby players. Three great guys, so friendly and interested, who
emptied their bags of all the goodies they could think of that
would be of use to us: biscuits, chocolate, water, toilet paper,
After that peak the actual hyakumeizan was a
bit lump-like and it started raining as we were taking our proof
shot. The rain turned out to be a blessing however, as without
it we would have had to spend a waterless night in the most luxurious
hut we have found to date. Tatami, futons, blankets, and only
about an hours descent the following morning to finish the Central
Wednesday 6th June
Day 115 - 33km.
Sleeping with the dead.
Tom – "The heavy rain of the day before
had subsided over night and we began a short but beautiful walk
off the mountain through rural Japan. We found a store to stock
up with enough food to cover us for the last two mountains before
we got to the Northern Alps. After shopping we sat down for a
quiet lunch only to have a politician pull up in his campaign
van in front of us and shout through a megaphone for half an hour
as the rain started to pour.
next couple of hours were spent walking along a very busy road
getting splashed by big trucks before we turned off onto the road
which would take us up to Mount Ontake. Mt Ontake is considered
to be a very sacred mountain and is covered in shrines and temples
which are visited by the pilgrims who climb it. This was especially
useful to us as we found an excellent place to sleep under a covered
area in a graveyard!"
Mt Ontake (3067m - Mt No. 28)
Thursday 7th June
Day 116 - 22km
- "After a rainy night we set off up an overgrown trail.
Ben’s head was causing him grief all the way up the mountain and
the smell of sulpher from the volcanic vents couldn’t have helped.
The mountain is covered in huts balanced on
steep slopes, which we though gave the mountain a very Tibetan
appearance. We reached the top at 12 and sunbathed for an hour.
On the way down Ben decided to have a bash at
taiko drumming on one of the many massive bells hung up by the
temples. The descent from the mountain was on a steep bendy road
that led us out into the bottom of a valley. We camped by a river
and I went for a swim/wash taking care not to lose my shorts like
I had last time!"
Friday 8th June
Day 117 - 35km
– "Just another days walking really.
No one could accuse us of neglecting our hygiene,
first thing in the morning and all of us were washing bodies and
clothes in the river. A scorcher of a day soon dried our clothes
(that we were already wearing - we only have one set!) and continued
to bake us as we walked.
Both Tom and Paul proved their superior food
management skills, by saving some for lunch. I though, have no
such skill and scoffed all my ‘GORP’ (good old raisins and peanuts,
plus a few biccies and chocs) during our morning break. How glad
I was to be given a beer and some onigiri by the guy who owned
the fishing farm we stopped by for lunch!
By the end of the day we had reached the trail
head for Norikura dake. We sat and talked for ages, just relaxing
and telling stories. We sat by a small fire in an attempt to keep
midges away while we ate our noodles with added wild veg that
I had picked in the hope that it was edible (I had seen some ladies
picking similar looking stuff at the side of the road)."
Mt Norikura-dake (3026 - Mt No.29)
Saturday 9th June
Day 118 - 20km
Ben – "Sweat seemed to pour off us as
we climbed through the humid morning. The climb started in forest,
the path turned into a stream and winded its way through thick
bamboo that lead to a ridge covered in low growing pine. We climbed
a rocky shoulder and on to the ridge of a volcanic crater. I was
a bit behind the lads and cloud blocked my view, but I could hear
lots of people!
I reached the summit and was greeted by a mass
of excited Japanese walkers. Paul and Tom had already been mobbed
with questions and people feeling the weight of their packs. Some
people knew who we were from an article in the paper and we were
asked to be in about 30 different photographs. (Click here to
see pictures from
left the peak highly encouraged by the enthusiastic reception
and proof of our growing fame. We descended quickly only to realize
we were on the wrong side of the mountain. Even famous climbers
make little mistakes!
We had planned to go to Takeyama to buy all
the food for the Northern Alps but instead we hitched a ride to
Matsumoto with a lovely family."
Sunday 10th June
All your noodles please.
Paul – "A chilled morning of tasty food,
letter writing, and train riding, found us in the center of Matsumoto
looking for a shop with a massive stock of instant noodles.
after cleaning out two stores and seriously reducing the stock
of a third, we had our 88 packets of noodles, 4.5kgs of oats and
enough biscuits, peanuts and raisins to make up 14 days of hill
Only one shop manager and one cleaner had actually
asked us what we were doing. Many, many people hurt their necks
looking at us as we emptied noodles into zip lock bags, and organised
lunch food, sat first outside one store and then under a roofed
entrance to a closed bank as the heavens opened in a summer storm.
The very kind Mr Yamazaki drove back into town
for us to return our phone to us when we were finally able to
get through to it mid-morning. Packing accomplished and having
retrieved our phone from shop management (a cleaner obviously
didn’t appreciate it recharging in the toilet) we waddled into
MacD’s with massive packs and pondered our next move while dipping
biscuits into coffee.
Too late to hitch back into the hills and unable
to change Travellers Cheques on a Sunday, we beat a homeless man
to his patch under a bridge and settled down for the night."
Monday 11th June
Day 120 - 18km
Kita Alps here we come.
– "By 12:00 we stood outside a petrol station (much to the
amusement of the pump attendants) on the main road back to the
hills with our thumbs out and best smiles on.
The morning had disappeared under last minute
phone calls, letter posting, and money changing. After an hour
in the blazing sun we were still outside our petrol station but
as we started to walk further out of town Tomoko blocked up a
lane to allow us to squeeze ourselves, and all our kit, into her
where she dropped us at the end of the rail line, we quickly got
another lift right back to the free onsen the Yamazaki’s had picked
us up from a couple of days before. A good soak later and smelling
of sulpher, we walked onto a sky road that would take us deep
into the hills.
The attendant taking tolls waved us through
but warned us that it was a whole 8km’s to the next onsen restort.
We thanked him for his concern and didn’t try to explain - we
do live a crazy life.
18km’s later, with tired shoulders; we cooked
our dinner at the trailhead as we waited for some construction
workers to clock off so that we could pitch our tent on their
parking lot. 14 days of hills ahead of us."
Mt Yakedake (2455m - Mt No. 30)
Tuesday 12th June
Day 121 - 12km
Tom - "We started the day with 2 cups of
porridge each - something we’d be doing for the next 2 weeks (along
with GORP for lunch and noodles for dinner). The path up to Yake-dake
took us through some steep forested slopes up to the hissing volcanic
The views from the top were awesome. The peaks
of the N. Alps stretched ahead of us and the snowy slopes of Norikura-dake
From the peak we headed north along a forested
ridge which became increasingly steep and rocky. We stopped on
a flat patch just big enough to pitch a tent and melted snow for
Mt Hotaka-dake (3190m - Mt No. 31)
Wednesday 13th June
Day 122 - 7km
- "We had hoped to complete the ridge we camped on in a day,
but we found the going a lot more difficult (and fun!) than we
After 4-5 hours of scrambling up steep scree,
knife-edge sections and near vertical rock we reached Hotaka-dake
(the highest peak in the N.Alps). After the peak the ridge became
even more challenging and it started to rain. There were some
chains and ladders on some sections, however the rain made these
very greasy and we found them more of a hinderance than a help
and avoided them wherever possible.
At 5.30 we decided to call it a day and pitched
the tent in a deep steep sided col. At the end of the second day
we were already half a day behind schedule."
Yari-ga-take (3180m - Mt No. 32)
Thursday 14th June
Day 123 - 15km
Ben – "This weather is minging, and 4:30am
is no time to be awake.
braved the strong wind, rain and thick mist first to retrieve
the cooker just in time as the wind guard nearly blew it away.
After breakfast we continued along the fantastic ridge enjoying
it all the way in spite of the elements.
Before we reached Yari-ga-take, two big rocks
fell on my feet. Although a complete shock and very painful, my
Scarpa boots protected me well.
Yari is an impressive rock spire that is easily
distinguishable from the rest of the peaks on a clear day - however
today was not clear, so we moved swiftly on. We walked for more
than 10 hours, during which time the weather remained consistently
pants. So we were glad to find a hut.
Due to the unpredicted severity of the first
ridge we had lost a day so we had to start rationing our already
rationed food. It is scary to think that on day 3 we are already
a day slow!"
dake (2857m - Mt No. 33)
Friday 15th June
Day 124 - 23km
Ben – "We left our packs in the hut and
spent the first half of the day climbing Jonen which is situated
out to the east on its own. The continuance of the poor weather
had to some extent dampened my spirits as well as all my clothes,
but a good chat with Paul on the way back from the peak lifted
me. We then headed back towards Yari. I found some climbing hardwear,
so that only added to the increasingly good mood, which helped
me through the cooking of dinner with cold wet feet." - (perhaps
you should have used a spoon - ed)
Kaki-ga-take (2897m - Mt No. 34)
Saturday 16th June
Day 125 - 27km
Paul – "The views from the tent in the
morning almost made the dire nights sleep crammed into the tent
worthwhile. It’s really not nice waking crushed into the side
of the tent with a puddle of water under your mat.
Anyway, the sky was a vivid blue behind Yari’s
impressive summit, and the clouds were hanging in the valleys
between us and the peak we climbed yesterday - beautiful.
Yari’s rocky peak dominated the skyline all
morning as we headed north. It is easy to see why it is such a
popular peak. Dumping packs outside a sadly open hut we took only
the essentials and raced off with only one sac towards today’s
According to the map it was a 10.5hr round trip,
and we had 7hrs of daylight max! The walk to the peak was long
but enjoyable, two ridges joined by an awesome corrie for which,
thankfully, the clouds lifted. In misty conditions it would have
been virtually impossible to figure out which way to go in the
snow. Stopping at the hut just below the summit we were given
a box of juice by the builders doing reconstruction work. They
had been helicoptered in and thought us completely mad.
peak was nice enough but misty so we got our photo, finished our
food and headed back. I for one was struggling to keep moving
forward when we eventually stumbled back to the hut in the twilight.
Having been specifically asked not to use the emergency hut as
the actual hut was open, we ate a quick dinner, had our first
problems with the cooker and then squeezed into the tent for the
Kashiba-dake (2924m - Mt No.35)
Kuro (suisho)-dake (2986m - MtNo. 36)
Sunday 17th June
Day 126 - 15km
– "The most mountains climbed in one day and the shortest
walking day - all in all very satisfying.
The morning dawned clear and cold but soon warmed
up. Most of us burnt at least our noses during the snowy traverse
to the hut where we were going to dump our sacs at today. Thankfully
this hut was shut. A quick inspection and the removal of one nail
saw us creeping into the dark silent building in search of more
room for sleeping than our little tent.
Yes, we broke in but we really did need a good
nights sleep. The day was still gorgeous, so we didn’t even take
a bag of essentials with us, instead simply carried extra layers,
the cameras and of course, some food.
is always on our minds in the hills and is often the topic of
long conversations. Today it almost crippled Ben who made a dive
at a can of tuna on the floor and tweeked something in his back.
Unfortunately, the tin was empty so he spent a day of discomfort
walking was easy along a ridge running parallel to the main backbone
of the Northern Alps. All in all it was a very casual day out
in the hills marvelling at the views surrounding us, which were
dominated by Yari’s dramatic summit.
Walking finished at 3:00pm allowing us to wash
socks (a blessed relief), reproof boots etc. The day ended very
happily with a candle lit game of yahtzee."
Mt Kurobegoro-dake (2840m - Mt No. 37)
Monday 18th June
Day 127 - 15km
- "After Ben had treated us to cinnamon porridge we set off
along a long traverse along the side of a snowy peak to Kurobegoro-dake
in blazing sunshine. After a hot and sweaty climb we reached the
peak and took a well deserved sunbathing break.
The ridge after the peak was gentle and rolling
and would have been easy if we hadn’t lost the path and had to
bushwack through thick patches of dwarf pine. As the day wore
on the weather got worse and we were glad to find an open and
empty hut below our next peak. We spent the evening drinking coffee
and chatting around the kitchen table, before climbing under blankets
and sleeping on futons."
Yakushi-dake (2926m - Mt No. 38)
Tuesday 19th June
Day 128 - 15km
- "The weather was misty and wet as we set off to Yakushi-dake.
We got to a peak, took photos and then 5 minutes later came across
the real summit, and so had to repeat the proof photo process
all over again!
The slope off the peak was steep and icy and
our ice axes saved us from a messy end on a number of occations.
The weather got worse and the rain became horizontal stinging
us through out Gor-tex clothing. Once we were off the snow slopes
the paths became torrents of water and we got totally soaked through.
When we found that the emergency hut we had
planned to stay in was boarded up, luckily Ben saw that one of
the 2nd story windows was open and, with the help of a makeshift
ladder, we were inside 15 minutes later.
Once inside we lit the wood stove and dried
our cloths and warmed ourselves next to it. Sleeping in the hut
was not unlike being in a boat as the gale force wind rocked it
Tate-yama (3015m - Mt No. 39)
Wednesday 20th June
Day 129 - 10km
Ben – "4:15am I need a wee - could it
not wait until breakfast in half an hour?
weather in the night had shook the hut violently and once again
we were thankful for a roof. Wind and rain was nearly as powerful
as in the Southern Alps and I got really quite cold.
Just before the summit of Tate Yama (one of
Japan’s 3 most holy mountains) we came across a hut that wasn’t
marked on the map. It turned out to be a temple shop and the guys
who were working there were very interested in our trek. We talked
with them for half an hour and one of them showed off his horn
blowing skills (many mountain priests produce such strange and
eerie noises from shells that we hear in the hills sometimes).
They also fed us some An soup (sweet bean soup) and gave us some
bells that signify the successful climbing of the mountain.
We left feeling much encouraged and headed off
from the peak which was rocky and exposed, moving on quickly to
find a camp site. I have always found the sound of rain on the
tent soothing and I fell asleep without even managing to get in
my sleeping bag properly."
Tsurugi-dake (2998m - Mt No. 40)
Thursday 21st June
Day 130 - 18km
– "Leaving packs at the camp we headed for one of the peaks
we have been looking forward to for ages. Tsgurisan has a mass
of great rock and impressive ridges fleeting off in all directions.
rain had stopped and we found ourselves sandwiched between two
layers of cloud. Below us a white sea filled the valleys from
which ridges rose like the fins of dolphins. To top it all off
we were climbing all over decent rock. After the peak we had to
drop off the main ridge into the valley to gain accesss to a tunnel
through the base of our next mountain. The path down was a melt
water river that ran between very steep sided cliffs. If only
we had had the time to rock climb.
We made it to the tunnel at 6pm and cooked up
dinner before walking through. Under the cover of darkness we
plunged into the freezing tunnel emerging an hour and 6kms later,
having just pulled off our longest illegal tunnel walk. The only
difference between us and James is that at the end of a hard day
we get to snuggle up to one another instead of a nice Bond girl!"
Kashima-yari-ga-take (2889m - Mt No. 41)
Friday 22nd June
Day 131 - 14km
Paul - "I found it a really weird sensation
walking into the toilets of a full-on bus station, complete with
restaurants and souvenir shop, all in the middle of the mountains.
The whole start of the morning really felt like
we were leaving the Alps. But no, we were just about to start
climbing up to our second ridge. During the climb we passed a
whole climbing club of over 60’s - I hope I am still able to climb
in the big hills at that age. We met them again at the first hut
on the ridge. They greeted us with big smiles and listened with
interest to what we are doing.
were blowing around the tops all day but we were given a quick
glimpse of our summit just as we were starting the final climb.
On the summit we all flopped in the warmth, all of us fairly tired,
and all of us wishing we had a bit more food to eat.
Eventually we worked up the energy to take
our photo and head off towards the third hut of the day hoping
to find a roof to sleep under. After a really interesting bit
of ridge we dropped down to a hut locked up like Fort Knox. Tom
and I after a good look round figured camping would do, but Ben
wouldn’t be beaten.A makeshift rope of slings, a down climb and
some attention to a couple of nails later he greeted us from a
It should be said that we always leave the
places just as we find them and being able to stretch out properly
is so welcome."
Gorju-dake (2814m - Mt No. 42)
Saturday 23rd June
Day 132 - 12km
– "It was only going to be a short day today but we’d finished
what we had intended for the day by 1:00pm, including climbing
Mountain No. 42, so we adapted our plans and pushed on.
Gorju-dake was an interesting peak involving
a good bit of scrambling and a whole load of plodding up steep
scree slopes, climbing upwards into the mist. From the summit
it was a quick walk down to the hut we had intended to stay at.
Sitting outside to eat our lunch, we realized
that pushing on that afternoon would free up a days worth of food,
as we would be able to drop out of the Alps the following day.
Lunchtime was a feast!
to the map we were about to enter a tricky section of ridge but,
compared to what we had already experienced, no trickiness ever
really materialized. We finished the day about an hour and a half
away from our final summit.
We pitched our tent for a final ridge camp in
a slight breeze but nothing to really be considered. After 3 hours
of trying to get the cooker to work (the thread on the pump had
completely stripped) we said a desperate prayer and the cooker
spluttered into life! By 11pm were finally able to settle down
having eaten a couple of days worth of noodles."
Shiroma-dake (2932m - Mt No. 43)
Sunday 24th June
Day 133 - 19km
Tom – "After one of the longest days and
latest nights of the trip so far we had looked forward to an hours
lie-in (5.30pm instead of 4.30pm!).
During the night the wind changed 90 degrees
and picked up to gale force. The rain started to come through
the worn seams of the tent and soon an inch deep puddle had formed
on one side of the tent.
By 2.30am the wind had taken all the pegs out
of the sandy soil we’d pitched on, the porches had blown open
and we had lost some of our kit over the side of the ridge (2
We spent the next 2 hours holding the tent up
from the inside to prevent the poles from snapping and the fabric
At first light (4am) we packed up all our kit
without eating breakfast and headed off for the next peak at 5am.
Thick cloud caused us to lose the trail almost
as soon as we started walking. About 2 hours later we got to a
toilet block below the peak and ate a few handfuls of GORP.
By 7.30am we were on the summit of Shiroma-dake,
the final mountain of the N.Alps.
The descent from the mountain took us past an
emergency hut that we ducked into, and spent 2 fruitless hours
trying to get the cooker to work to make porridge. We left the
hut hungry and proceeded down an icy 2km snowfield strewn with
rocks (no glissading!).
At 12.30 we were on a road, pulled off our boots
and slipped into our sandals in preparation for a 10km walk into
Hakuba (the town where the Nagano winter Olympics were held).
Once in town we let ourselves loose in a department store and
bought ourselves a shed load of food to fill our rumbling stomachs.
We sat in the store for 3-4 hours eating, relaxing
and trying to get in touch with either Tim Craft or Rachel Hills,
who had offered us places to stay nearby.
At 8pm Rachel pulled up at the train station
in her tiny 550cc car, we squeezed in and roared off at high speed
to a gorgeous house, a gorgeous shower and a gorgeous meal."
Monday 25th June
Day 134 - 0km
Pancakes & dinner parties
Ben – "I do not know what possessed me,
but I got up before 7am, and Tom soon joined me to make pancakes
for breakfast. I don’t think that Rachel will ever see a pancake
in the same way again - we cooked and ate about 40. In fact even
by the time she left for work we were still munching strong.
Yet again we experienced stunning kindness and
trust as Rachel gave us free reign over her car. Paul then drove
us to Tim Craft's house and we let ourselves in to start a very
productive admin session. Around midday our studious atmosphere
was interrupted as the front door opened and a tall dark handsome
young man walked in and exclaimed ‘honey I’m home’.
This was our first meeting with our host whose
computer we had monopolized and house we were preparing to use
as an office for the next few days. He was with one of the teachers
from his school who found it amazing that complete strangers were
welcoming Tim into his own house.
As the days typing came to an end we found ourselves
to be guests at a Mexican feast where we met some of Tim’s close
friends. Already the Alps seem a good long way away."
Tuesday 26th June
Day 135 -0km
Paul – "Tim Craft had contacted us months
ago to say that if we could drop by he would try and organize
a fundraising party as long as we could give him some advanced
notice - we don’t really know where we are going to be the next
But when we contacted Tim just before entering
the Northern Alps he said that if we could get to his place for
the 26th, he should be able to wangle something on the charity's
behalf, linked with a party that was already organised and going
to take place.
There were times in the Alps we didn’t think
we would make it, but here we were guest speakers at the Nagano-ken
JET leavers meeting. Following that meeting we were allowed to
go to the meal and then the after party at which we were allowed
to ask people to donate to the charity as they entered the bar.
The meeting went well. My mind went blank as
I tried to explain about the walk, but Tom and Ben stayed calm
and clear and an incredible amount of people thanked us for talking.
The meal was wonderful - as much as you could eat and drink for
2hrs at a restaurant with a massive food and drink selection.
has to be said that the three of us ate a lot!
Ben, unfortunate enough to enter the restaurant
with him, got given an immense amount of evil cocktails by Adrian
Grey. Being on a mission to have a bit of R&R after a tough 2
weeks in the Mountains, Ben took on the challenge and drank the
We have some stunning video of a certain Mr
Davies getting less and less coherent. By the time we moved to
the after meal party Ben was making no sense and friends with
Tom and I stood at the door like bouncers, watched
Ben wobble in, and were amazed at the immense generosity of Nagano
JETs who gave the recommended amount and more. On a personal level
everyone was so welcoming and so interested in what we were doing
- it was brilliant. On the whole it was a wonderful evening only
minimally tainted by the fact that Ben disappeared for 2hrs, which
caused a bit of a search.
He was finally discovered slumped in the Ladies
Toilets sicker than he has been in many, many years."
Wednesday 27th June
Day 136 - 0km
Typing, map reading and surfing
Tom – "None of us felt like moving out
of our beds, but we still had to finish the write up of the past
few weeks. After a round of French toast, we crawled out of Rachel’s
house stumbled into her car and cruised over to Tim’s for another
session of typing, working out our route for the next three weeks
and surfing the net. In the afternoon Tim came home from school
with a parcel from Thom (our man in Tokyo) containing our 3 pairs
of sponsored Brasher GTX boots (the lightest leather boots on
the market - see
page for link), our one-man tent and a spare cooker. Tim
then treated us to macaroni cheese and some awesome chocolate
brownies for dinner."
Thursday 28th June
Day 137 - 0km
Tom - "This was a day for sending e-mails
to family and friends (plus finishing the web page write up and
emailing companies), posting letters and buying food for the next
four or five days in the mountains. In the evening we went over
to Rachel's for dinner (a very good mushroom stroganoff). By 9pm
the three of us and our bulging rucksacks were in her tiny car
heading towards Hakuba, where she had picked us up on Sunday night.
After saying our goodbyes we settled down to a good nights sleep
in the shelter of a supermarket loading bay."
Friday 29th June
Day 138 - 26km
Tom - "We were awoken by a sushi delivery
at 6.00am and decided to pack up. Most of the morning was spent
packing food into zip-lock bags, making phone calls, posting films
and video tapes, putting the 70,000 yen raised by the Nagano JETs
(English teachers) in the charity account, and trying to find
a map so we could work out how to climb Mount Takazuma.
Our legs felt tired as we walked out of Hakuba
and the baking sun sapped our energy. We had been spoilt by all
the mountains in the last month and a half and we were back to
dreary road walking. Fortunately the temperature dropped during
the day and we managed to reach the trail head for Mt Amagasari.
We pitched camp in a gravel car park."
Mt Amagasari (1963m - Mt No. 44)
Saturday 30th June
Day 139 - 9km
- "We walked to the trail head in a drizzly rain and met
some Japanese blokes who had driven a long way to climb this mountain,
however due to the 'very heavy rain' they were about to turn around
without even attempting the mountain. We continued and quickly
reached the summit that despite the bad weather had many people
climbing to it.
The next summit was just a ridge walk away
(our plan was to spend about 4 days bagging the next 4 peaks)
so we began climbing down to it. The vegetation and torrential
rain reminded me of that film with Michael Douglas in it - Jewel
of the Nile - I think. The slope we were coming down got steeper
and steeper (as much as 80 degrees) and was lined with mud and
I was in front and slipped, I remember thinking
as I fell that this was going to hurt, and sure enough after slipping,
bouncing and free falling 25 metres I was pretty sore.
Neither Tom or Paul saw me fall, but Tom was
soon next to me trying to understand why I was saying "Ow!"
I had not actually found my injuries yet so
asked Tom to check my legs. When he shouted out a loud 'Damn!!'
I knew something wasn't too good!
My main cut was about 10 cm long and 2-3 cm
wide in the top of my thigh, so Paul helped me get patched up
and we abandoned the mountain to go and find a hospital.
Walking down did hurt, but trying to stay positive
was my main problem and I began to worry about how this would
affect my ability to keep up and still climb.
The hospital was well over an hour's drive away
which for us would be a day's walk! Yet again though we were subject
to amazing kindness as a Japanese couple borrowed a car to take
me for my stitches. The lady even held my hand as I was sewn up.
Yet again Rachel (the English teacher who put
us up after the Northern Alps) came to get us and we all went
back to her house."