“Sure you can leave your pack here”, replied the cheery worker manning the info. desk at the Visitor’s Center. “Just remember that we close at 5pm.” Sometimes a strict deadline really gets you up and going. Here it was 2:30pm and the powers that be had given me just 2-1/2 hours to complete a hike most do in 6. Time to put the cardio to test.
The first half of the climb up Tottori’s highest peak involves an endless array of wooden steps, with row after row of daytrippers slowly making their way off the volcano. I must’ve been the only one on the way up, as I passed no one despite my lightning speed. I reached the emergency hut at the 6th stage point in just over 30 minutes and continued into the thick cloud and sticky weather unabated. Reaching the official safe highpoint of Misen, I abandoned all hope of making it over to Ken-ga-mine. For one, I had absolutely no idea where it was. Plus, I had a pack full of camp gear waiting 1000 vertical meters below. After a compulsory photo, I raced down the rocky volcanic slopes, opting for the shortcut circuit through the Mototani flats. After passing by an obscene collection of concrete dams, I hit my stride on the final stretch to Daisenji temple.
Time was really tight, so I bypassed the historical artifacts of the rustic temple and arrived back at the Visitor’s Center with 10 minutes to spare. “Woah, we definitely thought we were going to have to stay open late for you”, exclaimed the staff, still shell-shocked at my early return.
In reward for my spartan effort, the staff gave me a ride to Kawadoko, where I pitched my tent by a small stream. Fireflies lit up the valley shortly after dusk, and I prepared for a long traverse the following morning. The humidity hung in the air like a wet towel on a drying rack as I started the steep climb towards Oyasumi-toge. 3.5 liters of water literally weighed me down as I stopped for a quick sweat-drenched break with some fellow daytrippers. Most were on their way up the gnarly ridge towards Utopia hut, but I was headed further north towards Yahazu-ga-sen, a knife-edge climb taking the better part of an hour to inch though.
The rest of the traverse quickly became a blur in the afternoon cloud and sweat, though I do remember a nice waterfall near the shrine at Senjo-san. Declaring it too hot to overnight on the bald fields that flowed over Mt. Senjo, I quickly descended to the road, for I heard the sound of an engine approaching. I arrived just in time to flag down the driver, who gave me a ride to Yonago station. From there, I walked out to the local beach and spent my remaining night in the wilderness trying to sleep through the chaotic cacophony of teenagers setting off bottle rockets all around me.
Daisen deserved a much longer visit the second time around, and I knew I needed to find an opportunity come back.