Monday, October 09, 2006

Mt. Adatara with my Japanese Class

Following the early departure of Couchsurfer Dan, I left with my friend Mie and headed up to the hills on my own very special mountain excursion. We met my Japanese class on the trailhead. All the students (mostly Chinese) and the volunteers whose hobby is teaching Japanese to foreigners every Thursday night gathered early in the morning at a ski resort.

We took the lazy way up, paying 800 yen (about 7-8 USD) for a 5 minute gondola ride. The weather early in the morning was rather crummy, but tolerable. A light drizzle came down, chilled by a strong wind from the Southwest, remnants of the typhoon that previously hit on Friday.

The Japanese volunteers were divided into 2 distinct categories. One group was totally unprepared for hiking and hardly had the slightest clue what to bring. Wearing jeans, casual shoes, leather purses, and pullover sweaters, any upswing in the rain might make their day utterly miserable. Their umbrellas quickly broken, or carried off by a strong wind, it was apparent to me that they didn't spend much time in the mountains.

The other group, was decked out in the latest yellow, orange, purple and red gore-tex raingear from The North Face or some other trendy, overpriced "trekking" brand. This camp came sporting waterproof hats over wollen caps, 4 layers of polypro (or whatever overpriced fiber was developed by Dupont last week), gators on their new boots (there was no snow), and colorful ski gloves. Their backpacks were capable of hauling enough supplies for 3-4 days. They looked prepared for Antarctica, and not the little pile of dirt known as Mount Adatara in the fall. These folks apparently spend more time in the gear shop than on the mountain, evidence that they weren't any more experienced than the first group. As an avid hiker and rock-climber, I won't try and pretend I don't like, own or covet some of these products, but to drag it all along for an easy day hike seemed rather pretentious and excessive.

The hike was very good, except for the weather and visibility close to the summit, and the massive crowd of people streaming up and down the mountain. The mud wasn't very fun either. I have climbed it once previously with a friend, but we did it in the winter, when nobody else was there (and the ski resort had not yet opened). This time, the fall colors were beautiful, and numerous different shades of red, yellow, and orange. With the lousy weather, I wasn't able to get any terribly good shots.

I also had fun talking to everyone, including my tutor Tomoko, who is pictured here.

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