As I had hoped it has become a summer of mountain walking, probably one of the activities I love best. I’m finding that when I return to town the cloying heat, the unfriendly crowds, the mindless rushing around, and the general inattentiveness to the surrounding world has gotten me spending every spare moment seeking a way out, towards a way of life more conducive to my temperament. Even time at the computer is falling away; I’m finding that I cannot stay seated in front of the computer for more than a half hour or so before restlessness hits me and I have to get up and pace the apartment or go for a walk.
The photographs here I brought back from my walk over Mt. Senjo, west of Tokyo in the South Japan Alps. It was my third attempt. Twice before torrential rains washed the trail out and I had to turn back. This time the rains hovered overhead for two days and constantly threatened to come pouring down, but somehow I managed to slip by unnoticed by the Lady of the Gaseous Screens, as Mt. Senjo seemed to me.
The walk was easier this time than the walk up Mt. Shirane a month ago. The exercise has been paying off, and then Mt. Senjo lent itself to a comfortable pace, with the succession of views and exertion just stretched out enough that the walk could be taken in comfortable increments. The main concern was time, because the new bus system didn’t allow for much leeway in terms of the first and last buses down the mountain. So, though I thoroughly enjoyed the walk, I had to rush a little, too.
Mt. Senjo acted like a coquettish lady, peeking out from behind the screen then dancing away to another before I could get a glimpse of her face. The whole day was a series of just missing a grand view; I would be huffing and puffing up an incline, look up, and just catch a new screen of clouds sliding over a sunny panorama. The clouds rolled and slid over the peaks like great white-gloved hands, the fingers whistling in the wind.
The most difficult part of the walk took me through a razorback ridge where some rock scrambling left me hanging over thin air at times. My heart pounded as I twisted myself over ledges and heard the wind boom from behind me, nudging me toward the edges. None of it was terribly difficult, though, and with just enough scary footing to add spice to the grayness of the sky, the walk lifted me up over the whole world. I stood atop the narrow peak, stared out into the wall of cloud, and then sat down to warm myself with some curry and rice.
Rounding the walk off I followed a roundabout path that led around the peak opposite Senjo’s summit ridge, taking me down through an alpine garden of pink flowering rhododendrons, black lilies, white birch, and rowan. The trail lowered itself gently here, drawing away from the rocky ridges and coloring everything with rain-washed emerald green vegetation. waterfalls spilled down along the steep slopes and seemed to dance like children over the dark rocks. I was filled with oxygen and joy, and sang as I walked. Following the contour of the mountain, it took me back to the trail upon which I had first stepped onto the shoulder of Mt. Senjo and then took me down into the larch forests below again. The clouds still followed me, but held back their rain.
I packed up my tent and just made it to the last bus of the day.