One Man Walking

2008-07-07 An audience

July 7th, 2008 · 1 Comment

I thought I’d be the first up the hill today but a bus-load of keen and young-at-heart hikers were dropped off at 4am and soon got going. I was 30mins behind them until I got confused at the first sign. One way was to a mountain I didn’t want, the other to one I didn’t know of. I was just back tracking in case I missed the real junction when Sato-san came up and assured me that turning right was the way to go. So we walked together until the trail split. He was off to Furano-dake for the third time, because he loves the flowers.

Sato-san goes to conquer the mountain 

I ascended into the clouds and stayed there all day. The tour group were moving slowly which gave me the chance to talk to a guy who had lived in Christchurch for a year. Soon he ushered me past and as I went he loudly told the others
“Make way! This person has come from Kyushu and is going to Soya”
That got everyone’s attention and they stood aside and wished me well. They caught up at the hut as I was leaving and another english speaker stopped me. He’d heard I was meeting Tania so he raised his little finger and asked
“All for your girlfriend yeah?”
I understand that the gesture just means girlfriend in Japanese, but where I grew up it’s used to insult someone’s manhood. I really suggest finger waving be only used when you’re from the same background.
“How long have you been gone?” the same man asked
“97 days today”
“Then your wife will have forgotten you”
And on that cheery note I headed into the mist again.
halfway up a mountain called Oputateshike 

It was now getting wetter, settling on anything facing east. I walked and walked as the visibility dropped to just 30m. Around 1pm I heard a tinkling from below and soon Tony and Mika came into view. British and Japanese I assumed. He asked if I was from Tokyo which seemed odd so I just said I was on a trip from Kyushu. Amazingly he’d heard of me! While searching online for Hokkaido hikes he’d found my website. Yay! Random people know me!

A few minutes later I heard a call from him up the hill,
“Hey Craig! Do you have a bear bell?”
“Do you want one?”
What he said next got lost in the wind. I imagine it was either “good luck” or “but there’s a bear just 10mins that way!”. I soon changed my mind and started whistling, then talking loudly as I pushed my way through head-high bamboo and especially as I crawled under trees into a mound of boulders that totally looked like bear country. After a while getting soaked by plants and bashing my legs on hidden logs the loud talking began to turn to profanity. If moma bear didn’t run away she’d at least cover baby bear’s ears.

White out   Mika and Tony 

Trail in the mist   Trail in the mist 
Trail in the mist 

I’d just got off that train of thought and onto another when I said out loud “I’d better stop now in case there’s someone coming”, and there was. He didn’t understand me though. A little while later I began again with “hello!” to no-one in particular but a bush asked me where I was. I raised a pole and yelled “here” and a man popped up out of his hidden tent. This trend continued when I finally found a camp spot and spoke excitedly about it to no-one in particular only to surprise another Japanese guy, Isoda, in a tent just over the slope.

It was a long day. 12.5 hours without sitting down. I’m totally exhausted and expecting another mammoth effort tomorrow.

Word of the day: ku-mo-ri-no = cloudy

Distance today: 28 km

Trail Profile 2008-07-07 

hiking  ·  photo

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Tony Grant // Jul 14, 2008 at 1:40 am

    Hi Craig. Glad you made it out of the bamboo okay that day :-)
    Mika and I got back to Tokyo today, so holidays are over. We had a fantastic time in Hokkaido though, and it was fun to come across you in the mists of Daisetsuzan. I’ve got a photo of you which I’ll email to you as soon as I’ve uploaded it from my camera.

    Take care and enjoy the last week of your trip. I’ll be looking forwards to reading about the finish.


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