— Feathers and Wax

That time I climbed a mountain

Ok so technically I “hiked up” the mountain, there wasn’t any real climbing gear involved. But this is still a GIANT deal for non-outdoorsy me, so just let me have it.

After spending that rainy day in Shirakawago, the weather cleared up and we were able to embark on our roughly six-hour hike up and down Mount Yakedake in the Japanese Alps, which is technically also an active volcano. We got up very early in the morning, packed some snacks and water and took a bus ride to the foot of the mountain.

I felt pretty daunted by the task before us as Houston is fairly flat and I had never even been on a true hike in my life, unless you count wandering around in the woods and singing annoying songs at church camp as a kid (I don’t). But as we got further and further up I started to feel like I could handle this after all, at least physically.

But then it started getting steeper…and I started to worry about the mental fortitude and skill this task requires.

And then it got even steeper…

At this point I was starting to wonder if we were in over our heads, as beginners. The ground was becoming increasingly slippery with small gravel and larger rocks that would shift under our weight, with sheer dropoffs on either side. I was grateful for the fog because it helped hide how high up we were. The sulfur smell became stronger and we saw a few spots that had steam flowing out of the rock from the volcano within.

We were several hours in to the hike, part of our group had turned back, and the master hikers (Zach and Rick) were way ahead of us. We sat down and I asked Fred “Is this crazy? Are we crazy for doing this?”

A couple of English-speaking climbers showed up at this point and told us we were only 15 meters from the summit. We clumsily tried to figure out what that was in feet with our exhausted-from-hiking brains, and then decided to give it a shot.

Success!

Then came the descent, of course, which was probably just as brutal. I won’t even get into the slippery ladders you have to use on some of the really steep parts.

I’ll just leave it here, with us feeling like we could conquer the world, 2,444 meters at a time.

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Thanks for reading Feathers and Wax! x

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