THREE YEARS TO NOWHERE

JUNE 2014

#032 – SANJUSANGEN-YAMA

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When The Missus and I stepped off Sanjusangen-yama, we had arrived.

We had arrived at the beginning.

After three years on the Kinki-Kansai Hyakumeizan merry go round, a ride that had seen us scampering off to mountains in all directions, armed without much method to our madness, we’d finally made it to a point that most normal Hyakumeizan hunters, indeed ALL sane Hyakumeizan hunters, start at:

The ‘100 Mountains To Go’ mark.

Could we call it a three year warm up?

Yeah, no, not really.  Ten mountains a year wasn’t getting anything other than our easy chairs warm.

Maybe a preamble then – with the emphasis on ‘amble’?

Mmm, that sounded more like it.

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So, on June the 16th, 2014 we’d ambled off our thirty second peak.  Way back on July 24th, 2011 we’d ambled up our first – Atago-yama in Kyoto.  Ah, the memories.  The torturous Minago, the train ride atop Ikoma, the bickering on Awaga, the powder snow of Iwawaki and the beauty of Ryozen-zan and Hachi-ga-mine.

32 mountains in 1059 days. What was our strike rate then?  Crack out the calculators kids.  A mountain every 33 days.  One a month.  At that pace we were due to be done by the end of 2022!  Hell, I’d be well on my way to the big five-oh.  If The Missus hadn’t done me in by then.  The Kid’d be out of school – well probably.  Elementary school anyway.

All the ambling had to stop and seeing that there were only a mere hundred mountains remaining on our hitlist, it was as good a time as any to introduce into our efforts a more systematic method of attack.

Based from home on this intrepid task, our focus was quite often on other things.  Back in ’07 when I set off to climb Japan’s 100 famous mountains I headed north and hiked the mountains home to Osaka.  Simple:  travel as far away from home as possible and head back, tackling a bunch of peaks on the way.

Home base had since moved to Kyoto, and like Osaka it sits somewhat in the centre of the Kansai region, a touch to the north, but if we spare the nitpicking, one could imagine us situated in the middle of a picnic spread, the mountains rolling out in all directions like the rumples in a blanket.  Home and distraction was always within reach.

At some point in 2012 we’d written the names of the mountains on scraps of paper to draw out of a box.  We would climb what was drawn.  That idea lasted for a grand total of one solitary mountain.  After drawing the name of a distant peak and constrained by work and the Kid’s school hours, we eventually headed for summits closer to home in the meantime.  The lucky box gathered dust and eventually ended up trashed.

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And so, to our renewed focus.  To the bright and shiny system that would carry us forward into a more active hiking future.  We had a four page list outlining the peaks from highest to lowest.  From the 1900 metre Mount Hakken in the Omine Mountains down to the 300 metre midget, Takamikura, out past Kobe.

“Forget the first page,” I said.  ‘Save the bigguns for a grand finale,’ and with the rest…well, we’ll just hit ’em randomly, like before – but more often, we promised.

Now that was a system well worth the doubling of our efforts.

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And then it got hot.  As Kyoto does.  Hot and humid. We became distracted by the Kyoto Trail.  It circumnavigated our home town.  Cold beers were always a hop, skip and jump away.  And then the Old Man visited and we fled the heat for a road trip through Hokkaido.  And then we got back and our holidays were over and blah, blah, blah…

Ah, those mountains, we’d get back to them eventually – besides, we hadn’t really started yet, right?

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