|It was a cold old night so dragging ourselves out of bed at 5.30 does not appeal we snooze till 6am. There are no signs of life at Mia and Conchi’s tent so Kev goes to raise them, leaving when he reconises the signs of someone trying to get dressed in a small two man tent. We are all ready to climb by 7.30 and it is still rather cold.
There are 8 stages to the climb and it’s very popular there are lots of Japanese people here to but we are the only westerners. We soon warm up and shed layers down to T shirts, the first couple of stages consisting mainly of steps hundreds of steps. By two thirds of the way up we hit the cloud layer which is shrouding the mountain it also means we have no view for the rest of our journey a shame as yesterday it was clear to the top. The closer we get to the summit the colder it becomes so the layers go back on. The last stage we round a corner and the wind is biting, everyone is wearing all they can find, we have our cagouls on as well to act as a wind break. Visability is zero as we pick our way along a raised boardwalk, we climb the last 100yds and the only way we know we have reached our goal is the plaque stating the height 1709metres. The view would be magnificent if you could see it but we have heavy cloud, freezing wind and zero visabilitiy, it was still worth it though, we back track to the shelter hut opening the door we are greeted by 50 other climbers all in the throws of preparing lunch a rather comical sight as Japanese ettiquette still prevails and it’s boots off before you sit on the raised wooden platforms.. Mia and Conchi have a stove and set about making coffee with biscuits we prepared a curry and filled the thermos flasks back at camp so we share our rations and have a good feed.
Now nourished we are ready to do battle with the wind. We exit the hut and make our way steadily downwards we are still in the cloud layer until we reach the same point as on the way up when we see the sun is now out and it’s a beautiful day, Mia suggests we desend via the temple as it’s a different route back.
We have the views now and they are striking, we can see all the way down the valley and get glimpses of the cloud covered peak.
A thought struck Kev at the top despite a 3-4hr hike up when we were at the summit we were still lower than much of our time in Mongolia most of which is 2000 metres plus.
We walk across a gravel scar an easy route to allow the snow and melt water off the mountain, it allows us a magnificent view in all directions. Back into the woods we enjoy the descent to the temple which has a roof made of tiny intricate wooden tiles. This also has some bronze animal statues which Mia explains are to bring good fortune when stroked and you can see all the shiny patches on noses etc.
We continue on down detouring for a waterfall which we are at the top of, the valley is filled with little stone cairns so we add another one. We finally arrive back in town 2.30pm and have an ice cream before heading back towards camp.
This is where we say goodbye to Mia and Conchi they have packed up their tent and are moving on, we decide as it’s free we will stay as we could end up in a worse situation if we move on this late.
We catch-up on writing blogs and stuff and we manage to find some wood and have a fire. It’s not as cold tonight but its still very welcome, we are tired from our hike so we sleep well.
We wake reasonably early and get going, its an uneventful day and we only manage about 160 km as it’s all towns and the traffic is busy. We stop briefly for wifi to send off blogs and check emails, back on the coast road it is very windy so we head inland to search for a free camp finally finding a little clearing up a gravel track. We allow ourselves a fire as we are well hidden. The leak in the airbed has got worse, we were up 4x’s in the night to blow it up, not good ! In the morning a rain squall blows in soaking the previously dry tent so we breakfast inside discussing options. We have to start back considering how long it will take to clean the bike to MAF (NZ ministry of agriculture) standards and decide we are as far south as we dare in the time available. Looking at the map we can cut inland away from this windy coast line so this we do. It turns out to be a great road not too much traffic and very scenic we make good progress until we reach the road closed sign ! the route over that mountain is closed for repairs. A slight deviation later we continue on our way stopping for lunch at a bus stop which has an overhang and a seat, it is cold and a delivery driver feels sorry for us as buys us some heat patches which when activated become warm. Riding all afternoon we stop for petrol in town it also has wifi so we fire off a quick blog. By now it’s time to search for camping there’s a lake nearby so we head for that. We pull up in a carpark that has potential there’s a map so I wander over looking for campsites. It says ‘Camping site map’ I laugh ‘here’s good’ I say. It’s another deserted camping ground the toilets are open and we find out later the washing up blocks even have automatic lights which still work, sorted!
We make camp and a stir fry washed down with a beer or two, we plan to head to Hiroshima tomorrow.