The wind is blowing again today and I suspect that the mountain I meandered over last weekend is sitting hunkered down again, its back braced against the fury of Mt. Fuji looming just a hop over to the west. Mount Mikuni, more of an undulating hump than a real crag, sits right on the eastern knee of Japan’s most massive mountain. Some time ago in the mists of prehistory Mt. Fuji had one of her 150 year tantrums and vomited a slurry of volcanic ash and tuff, creating a huge black and crimson skirt in which she sat primly guarding the rising of the sun. Mt. Mikuni was created out of her agitation and fidgeting, part of a series of wrinkles in the drape of her skirts. When you walk Mikuni it is like crunching through burnt granola, the soles of your shoes grinding the granules as if waiting to be scooped up with a spoon. And when I walked last weekend the leeward sides of hummocks and trees clung to the remaining snow drifts that churned underfoot like cold milk. All the while the crew cut beech and myrtle forest bowed under the onslaught of a wind that roared and shuddered overhead, at times booming so loud I couldn’t hear my voice as I shouted cautions to my partner. It was a frigid wind, hurling straight from the ivory lips of Fuji, indifferent to the tiny lives moving among the rocks.
And a moving, almost achingly beautiful, in a grey sort of way, encounter with a lone forest. I loved how small and insignificant I felt. At the end of the day it was as if my soul had been swept clean.