The rainy season has started but there are some days that bring great weather for a short day hike.
Reason for the climb
My partner and I have been very busy for the past few weeks taking care of some legal matters for a client . To simply refresh our minds and have a good workout, we decided to go on a day hike with a good friend on a mountain near the Fukushima border in Ibaraki prefecture. (The rad levels were low and normal!)
For a challenge, I took out my 55 liter pack and loaded it with 45 pounds of gear and other junk just to give my legs a good work out in the field!
As we made our way to the starting point of our climb, we were greeted with a sign that read “Do not climb if not confident”. I was like WTF? The photograph I took of a sign below reads in Japanese as “muri wa kinmotsu 無理は禁物” or in direct translation… Don’t do the impossible. But to me it’s doing the impossible that gives us that chance to test our limits.
Level of the Climb
The climb was in the mid-range level for low altitude climbing. The mountain was approximately 684 meters high that contained tons of vegetation. However, halfway through the climb there were many steep slopes rigged with chains and ropes to assist climbers that may make it seem difficult to non-climbers. To me, the climbing wasn’t that bad but what really got my team in alert mode was the fact that there were poisonous snakes roaming around the mountain. As a safety measure, it would be nice to have a stick to check an area before putting your hand while on a climb.
The pack seen in the image above is a 55 liter backpack…
The bag is stuffed with a sleeping bag, tent, a 3 liter camelback water reservoir, food, and a couple of Canon Lenses. The total weight of it was about 45 pounds.
Also, attached to right side of the pack is a tripod without the head.
The course we took gradually became very steep halfway through the climb and we almost lost the dog who nearly fell 10 meters down a very steep section of the mountain. It’s a good thing my dog caught his balance before tumbling down! German Shepherds are mountain dogs right?
Here is a picture of my dog climbing a section of the mountain.
The following pic probably is my favorite candid shot from the climb. Here is a shot of my friend looking out and enjoying the beautiful view near the summit of the mountain.
Finally here’s a view from the top!
Mountain Flora of Interest
Since its the beginning of the summer season in Japan, the humidity is up and greens are out! As I trekked through the mountain, I found an enormous amount of unique plants. Check this out!
Pictured above is known as ki-ichigo or in latin, Rubus rosaefolius. At first I thought this was some kind of raspberry but after looking it up, this is closely related to the black berry. This is edible and is mainly found around the base of the mountain.
This right here is probably the most interesting plant I found on the mountain known as the “ginryosou 銀竜草” or the Silver Dragon Plant, which is pretty much a badass name (In latin: Monotropastrum humile). This plant is so interesting because it lacks chlorophyll and therefore is not green. Because of the lack of chlorophyll, it cannot photosynthesize and so it survives by absorbing nutrients from surrounding fungi.
From an evolutionary perspective, I really appreciate how this plant evolved to survive without the need to photosynthesize. AMAZING!
Pictured above is a fungi known as kikurage “キクラゲ” or jellyfish tree. The scientific name is Auricularia auricula-judae and because of its shape, it is also known as Judas ear or Jew’s Ear. According to wikipedia, the mushroom gets its name as Judas ear because it is thought that Judas hanged himself on an elder tree on which this mushroom commonly grows on. Anyhow, this mushroom is edible and unassumingly has some medicinal properties in Asia that can help lower cholesterol, treat diabetes, and prevent the spread of cancer. This mushroom is found not just in East Asia but all throughout the temperate regions in the world.
Definitely good to see stuff like this while on a hike.
Animals of Interest!
In actuality, this photo above shouldn’t be here but this is the only photograph I got of the snake that quickly slivered through the lush forest as I tried to get a photograph of its head. I also think that it sensed my dog and that might have frightened it away.
Surprisingly from what I’ve been told, if this snake is really the yamakagashi, then this could be one of the most venomous snakes in Japan known in English as the venomous colubrid snake. However frightening as it may sound, this snake rarely strikes humans and is known to flee from large predators during the warmer seasons.
In addition, unlike cobras, it’s fangs aren’t in the front of its mouth but at the back, making it difficult for it to actually penetrate skin and insert venom into a man or a dog as it strikes.
Here is a shot of a carpenter bee (in Japanese Kumabachi or when translated bear bee) in flight. There were some signs warning climbers of these bees near the top of the mountain but as long as you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. As a side note, if you are in an isolated area like on top of a mountain and get stung while being fatally allergic to bee stings you’re pretty much fucked anyway. So I say enjoy life and always protect yourself . In this case carry an epipen (epinephrine shot or benadryl for the dog) and don’t miss out on the adventures of the outdoors!
Btw, for some odd reason, there were a lot of these carpenter bees swarming around at the summit of the mountain. A couple of these bees did land on my shirt and arm but didn’t do jack. I guess they were just checking me out! lol