“What am I doing here?” The question echoed through my mind as I kick-stepped up the 50 degree slope. I can’t really say I’d lost the trail since I never found it in the first place. I knew there was really only way to go, though: up.
Nine-hundred eighty, nine hundred ninety, one thousand. The altimeter put my fears at rest. I’d surely reach the summit plateau but had no idea which direction to turn once I did. As I swam through the grassy meadows I turned full force into the wind, past the snow cornices on the deserted ridge, topping out on mountain #50 of my Kansai Hyakumeizan quest. No trace of anyone, and surely the first one up this season. I abandoned all hope of traversing the ridge for fear of getting hopelessly lost. Better to head back the way I came, even if it weren’t on a trail.
After scaring a pheasant out of its wintering hole, I chased two white-tailed deer through the rugged forest back into town. Luckily, a hot spring awaited my return like a docile pet awaiting the return of its master. As I sat in the bath, I reflected over the last couple of years of peak chasing the hills of Kansai, patted myself on the back, and threw in the towel.
I’ve now climbed just about every peak within a 100km radius of Osaka city. The remaining 50 are so far away that I’d spend more time getting there than I would on the mountains themselves. Is it really worth it? I’m pretty content with reaching the halfway point, and without my own transport I wouldn’t reach the magical 100 until I became too frail to move. I’ve got some books to write, sleep to catch up on, and friends to spend time with. I will, however, continue climbing interesting peaks throughout the Kansai area, but this time on my terms.