Wednesday, April 26, 2006

You think I'd learn...

So as we are arriving in Yufuin, I start to think to myself, "I should talk to people I meet in the Youth Hostels more. And that mountain behind the town looks like a good mountain to climb". Why I was thinking those things I'll never know. That evening, we met Neil. I can't tell you a whole lot about him, except that he's on a six month sabatical from his job, has travelled through Africa on motorcycle, and is now travelling through Japan. Why Japan, I don't know if he's even sure of that. Neil was trying to figure out what bus to take to the start of the hiking trail, and I offered to give him a lift, and possibly go with him. After climbing the volcano in Ebino Plateau, I'm not sure what possessed me to climb again, but this mountain looked easy. You could see part of the trail from the road, and both Neil and I figured, "you'd have to be an idiot to get lost". Off we went the next morning - I started to worry when I saw him filling up two waterbottles and a collapsable canteen. Proper hiking gear, water, food.... At least I had a snickers bar.

The guide book said the hike was about four to five hours. Kathy dropped us off at the base of the trail at 9:30am. And so began our adventure.

I have to say, it was one of my most pleasurable days yet. The trail was steady, but not too steep (until we had to rock climb to the west peak). It was refreshing to have a meaningful and intellegent conversation. I should explain a bit - Neil likes photography - a lot. He understands the computer chip in my camera very well (he designs similar chips as part of his job) and didn't mind explaining it too me. Neil is also interested in finding a bit of truth in the world. We had such an intense conversation about faith, science, religion, and "the plight of the human soul", that we spent an hour at the summit just talking. I loved that we could just talk about it - with as much honesty and candidness we could muster. The only problem was that the way down was different than the way up, and after ascending from 800 meters to 1584 meters, we descended to about 500 meters. It was a long way down, and I knew Kathy would be worried. She was - we didn't get back until a little after five. My snickers and one small bottle of water almost wasn't enough.

Neil, thanks for a fantastic hike and even better conversation!

Here are a couple pictures from the climb:

The day always starts off beautifully, and the mountain always looks easy!

This dormant volcano has two peaks. To get to the top of the west peak you had to do a bit of rock climbing. Nothing too hard, but not for those with any fear of heights.

Me at the top of the west peak. The sign has the name of the mountain and the height - 1584 meters.

Looking from the western peak to the eastern peak, and the trail to it. There was a hiking club taking their lunch break between the two peaks when we first got up. Must have been about 30 people (and no one younger than 50).

The trail down.

On top of the world, with Yufuin town way down below.

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