From Shizuoka, it was about a three-hour drive to the trailhead, Karakawa Kosen, a hot springs resort in Chino City, Nagano. I didn’t forget my camera but I did forget my memory card, so this time all the pictures are courtesy of Tamami Hearty-Hiker.
The loop from the onsen can, of course, be taken in either direction—but counterclockwise we went, which meant approaching the West Tengu Peak first, and the East Tengu peak second. Maps suggested it would be about six hours of walking and that’s about what it took us.
We were ahead of the average pace on the way up, feeling fresh as daisies two hours in, along the “shakunage” ridge . . .
. . . but maybe dragged a bit on the way down.
It never feels like a particularly steep climb . . .
but negotiating the rocks, whether . . .
. . . you’re crawl-climbing over them (the final bit up to the West Peak), or you’re being mindful of every footstep upon them or between them (an hour along the river bed going down), adds a bit to the fatigue.
It was the season for kuroyuri (“black lilies”), and we were happy to spot a few.
The woods, especially those we passed through on the way down . . .
. . . are known for the moss. Some folks, we’ve noticed, like to put stuffed Totoro dolls among it, to snap photographs. (We didn’t have one!)
When you’ve driven a long way, and you’re not likely to return very often, you hope for clear skies, but when you don’t get them, it doesn’t mean the experience is less joyful.
Just look at these guys—these Hearty Hikers.
Their expressions make me so happy.
Their expressions make me feel so grateful.
A couple of coins
And a dusty bowl,
Stacked on rocks,
Light up my soul.
And as you know, when the skies are overcast, you can always focus your attention on the works of art on exhibition along the trail. Here are a few of the ones we delighted in this time. If you go yourself, keep in mind that the curators are always putting away some pieces—and displaying anew others. You can’t predict what you’ll see, so keep your eyes open.
“Spotted Nutcracker in Green”
A Grass-Chewing Mouse Strolls an Overcast Night”
“Starburst in Green and Green” “Summer Christmas”