#022 – RYOZEN-SAN
“I can’t go on any further,” she said just after we’d passed the troupe of monkeys catching the last of the season’s rays in a sunny, bracken filled glade. A chilly wind carved its way in through the yellowing foliage in the pass just below the final ascent of Ryozen-san, one of Kansai’s finest mountains.
Fall hay fever was wreaking havoc on The Missus’ sinuses and she just wasn’t feeling up to continuing. I peered through the trees up to the bald southern buttress of the mountain, somewhat disheartened at the sudden halt in proceedings.
It had been a struggle to that point. A steep, barely relenting slog, climbing up from an abandoned hamlet lost deep in the folds of the Shiga mountains. As The Missus dealt with her uncooperative nasal cavity, I’d been battling a nasty headache. Gathering cloud rode the high winds strafing the summit. Time was of the essence. The Kid had been sent to school and we had to be back to collect him. Long departed were my gung-ho, she’ll be right, throw caution to the wind days in the hills. This was the age of reason and rationality…responsibility.
Sunshine broke through at intervals and lightened the mood as we dilly dallied at the pass. And, so, it was that I relented. Abandoned the push. Why rush? It was a new rationale I had not yet come to complete grips with. It was gorgeous right where we were. We unpacked lunch, found a warm spot in the sun amongst some rocks and shot the breeze.
Ryozen-san take two.
We took the same path. The Kid joined the assault. Two weeks or so after our first attempt the forests had turned an astoundingly dazzling gold, that when hit by sunlight it felt as though the heavens had opened. The monkeys had fled. Probably dropped to warmer climes. We hit the southern buttress of Ryozen-san just beyond the point we’d called it a day the last time and marveled at the vistas afforded to us on the staggeringly steep, treeless climb. Hill country to the east ducked and dove to the horizon above steep sided valleys, virtual chasms choked with woodland clinging to vertical ground. I wondered how many lost villages dotted those forgotten ravines. Hidden hamlets where the forests slowly, relentlessly reclaimed their lost territories, swallowing all traces of fleeting human habitation.
Up high, on level ground, we rock hopped a broad ridgeline, along an exposed spine of pale grey stone. There, at once, I realised Ryozen-san had been worth the wait. A mountain famous for its spring fields of blossoms it was equally resplendent in its more subtly hued autumn attire.
It had been a long time since I had become enamoured with a mountain. Even The Kid, who exhibits little enthusiasm for a day of hard graft in the hills, especially when serious Lego time is going to waste, reveled in the day out.