We both woke before dawn, anxious to flee the capital city before the onslaught of the morning commute. Leaving the warm confines of Madoka’s cozy apartment, Kanako and I head southwest to Shibusawa, home to the Tanzawa mountains and our playground for the next two days of celebrating my wife’s 28th birthday. Things just had to go smoothly.
From the bus stop at Okura, we flew up the forest road under picture perfect skies, chatting gingerly about life in the mountains. I knew we had a tough 1400m ascent staring us straight in the face, but refrained from spoiling the birthday girl’s chipper mood by keeping this information to myself. Entering the forest, we started our relentless climb up the spine of the mountain range that runs through the heart of Kanagawa Prefecture on the outskirts of Tokyo. The path snaked past a couple of teahouses before entering an area of golden grasslands.
“Turn around”, I said, after letting Kanako set the pace for our morning goal of Tou-no-dake. “Woah”, replied the newly-turned 28 year-old beauty, whose cries of joy turned to wails of delight upon discovering the towering cone in the distance was indeed Mt. Fuji.
The smiles continued unabated as we reached the knob that housed Sonbutsu hut. It was just past noon as we took a quick lunch break and observed our surroundings. “When do we check-in”, asked my wonderful wife, as I gently led her to a clearing overlooking the peaks to the north. “As soon as we reach that hut”, I proclaimed, pointing to a point way off in the distance. Most hikers do not attempt to make it to Hiru-ga-take in one day from Ogura, but I knew exactly what I was doing…..or did I?