Monday, May 11, 2009

Mt. Ishizuchi

In light of my staying in Japan another week, Hans decided we should get some treacherous hiking out of the way so I'd be good and ready to leave him. Prepare to be blown away with Suzie exaggerations.

I'm going to skip the part where Hans and I argue over how much to pack, Hans indulges his A.D.D. with two hours of MSNBC instead of getting ready for the trip, and we take off for Saijo much later than planned. Just know that it happened, and it was totally everyone's fault but my own. :) We met up with Courtney and Chris and arrived at the base of Mt. Ishizuchi around 1:30 pm, where we took a cable car up to the 1,300 meter point. I could hear Hans grumbling something to the effect of " . . . feels like cheating . . . " but had we not, we'd still be on the mountain right now. I don't think there was another option anyway; at least that's what we like to tell ourselves.

By the time we reached the top of the ropeway, we had four (count 'em, four) hours to climb the last 7 kilometers of trail to the 1,982 m summit AND BACK before the ropeway closed and we would have to pack down the entire mountain Lord of the Flies style. This might have seemed like a piece of cake, had the majority of the trail been an actual hiking trail and not this:

And this:
This is my don't-take-a-picture-of-my-butt pose.

. . . and this is a picture of my butt.

I used to think stairs were easier than trails. Konpirasan has always felt easier than Mt. Yashima to me, even when I did it the day before Hannah's due date. My legs are singin' a different tune now. The problem with stairs is that you feel like you're going no where. It definitely didn't feel like we were going forward, and as we kept our eye on the ever-elusive summit, we were beginning to believe that we weren't going up, either. Aside from the swampy infestation of gnats flying into every bodily orifice they could find, the "god-chains" were actually some relief, in that we could actually use muscles other than our now-bulging quads. My childhood years of gymnastics and jungle gym obsession came in handy, and I could have god-chained the entire mountain. Thank you Renata Edwards Studio.

We reached what we believed to be the summit just in time to realize that the REAL summit required a perilous trek across this ridge:
and by that time, we only had an hour and a half to get back to the ropeway, so down we went, roly poly, pell mell, tumble bumble. On the way down our party acquired two twisted knees and a twisted ankle, none of them mine (not that I didn't try, believe me). We came to a point where we knew we wouldn't make it to the ropeway in time, so I started to run to see if I could hold it up for all of our injured hikers. I ran and ran, down rickity stairs, rocky trails and twisty roots. Heart pumping and ankles rolling, I ran until my adrenaline gave up the ghost and I couldn't run any more. I think I ran about 2 feet. Then Courtney, twisted ankle and all, showed me what a woman is REALLY made of, and ran the rest of the way to tell the ropeway operator that we needed him to wait. We arrived 15 minutes late, and he graciously let us ride down.

Our ride back to the base of Ishizuchi was silent but for our panting. Chris' knee was slowly swelling, and Hans wasn't in much better shape. Hannah, newly awake from her bumpy backpack nap, ran circles around the cable car with the biggest wedgie I've ever seen, smiling from ear to ear.

"This is my fault. I was a bad hiking guide. I broke just about every hiking rule there is today," Hans said.

"Wouldn't be the first time" I smiled, and kissed his hand. (Remind me to tell you about, oh, every other hiking trip I've done with this man.)

Good bye summit.
Good bye gnats.
Good bye chains.
Good bye baby sleeping on Daddy's back.
Good bye stairs, and good bye hairs.
Good bye (smart) hikers everywhere.


Samantha said...

Well that looks...."fun." I'm not sure I would have gone, ha! That's a big job without a baby backpack. I'm not a big hiker.
You look like you are in fantastic shape!

Anonymous said...

I like dayhikes - I we've been doing a bunch of those ourselves lately! The're a lot of fun. BUt you did start pretty late... c'mon Hans, those are beginner mistakes;)

Aileena said...

Albeit scary hikes are scary, you always feel accomplished afterward. So i hope you did!

Suzie said...

Thanks Samantha!