Surprise, surprise. We woke up to a lovely blue sky–unusual for this hazy, lazy summer season—and headed over to Ryuso for a climb.
A question. One I’ll ask myself.
Why do we enjoy going to Ryuso again and again and again for this very same long haul up this very same trail to this very same peak?
It’s a climb that takes, on average, about three hours up and down, plus whatever time we dawdle to . . . let’s say . . .
. . . let’s say . . . to watch a spider web distilling the sunlight and changing color as it billows in the breeze.
To watch it for a while.
Or to stop among the cedars to look up and listen . . .
. . . to discover exactly where the woodpecker is rat-a-tat-tatting. We never did spot the one hidden up in this canopy, but we did spot one farther along the trail.
One answer to my the question I’ve asked myself is that . . .
. . . it’s never “the very same trail.”
Yes, yes, there’s always something new to see. The weather and the seasons make every day in the mountains different. And second by second, the sun cuts through the trees just a little differently. Fiddle with your camera’s focus a half-second too long, and the shot you wanted is gone.
And yep, every trip up, we, too, are different. Our wacky little minds always have our eyes landing on different things. That’s part of the fun of going together.
“Hey, you missed this!”
But that’s not the answer I want to give today. The answer I want to give today is . . . we go back to Ryuso again and again and again . . . for the breathing.
For me, the breathing on Ryuso is absolutely perfect. I don’t feel any stress or any relunctance to start the climb. I ease into it—and as I do, my breathing eases into it with me.
But it’s no cakewalk. Don’t get that idea. It’s sort of like walking up two thousand steps. My Ryuso may not be your Ryuso.
The rate of breathing increases. The depth of each breath increases. Calories are burned. In this season, the sweat is serious. (Though it’s 10 degrees cooler, Celsius, than in town!)
As my mother will tell you, I have never been able to sit still. If I could, I would probably be a big fan of yoga and meditation—body-staying-still meditation, I mean.
But I cannot sit still.
My breathing on the mountain is heavier, I’m sure, than the average meditator’s breathing while sitting still, but I believe it comes to the same thing.
Because I focus on my breath—becoming my breath, I want to say—so completely, and the level of my breathing feels so perfect that I feel amazingly comfortable and invigorated and alive. And when I feel that way, I also feel as if I can feel the mountain breathing. And I feel as if the mountain and I are breathing the same rhythm.
And it’s amazing, but I can not only feel the power that the mountain manifests, but can feel how my power, however tiny compared to its, is perfectly in tune with that of the mountain. The mountain belongs to the universe, and I belong to the mountain, and we are all singing the same song.
The notes are colors, and the colors are note. Something runs through the forest as a player’s fingers run through the strings of a harp. A spider is dancing across a rainbow.
And that’s why, at least in today’s explanation, I go back to Ryuso again and again. I’m pretty sure it’s why most of the Hearty Hikers go back again and again.
At the top, as usual, we glanced out over the Pacific Ocean. Across the Suruga Bay from the Shimizu port, the Izu Peninsula rose up—blue from out of the blue and up into the blue. Again, a bit of an unusual sight for this time of year. Then we turned and glanced off the other side of the lookout–out at the blue of the Southern Alps.
We sat for about fifteen minutes, had some prunes and crackers, and pumpkin seeds, then headed back down.
We got back into the rhythm. Again, we became our breath.