The rain came down in a steady rhythm not long after dusk. Fortunately I had already finished cooking and brushed my teeth in the washroom of Sugoroku hut. My face rested just a few inches from the canvas on the tiny tent as condensation covered the rain fly. Below my body lay small pebbles protruding against the vinyl of the tent floor – I had abandoned the luxury of a sleeping pad in order to save pack space, which seemed like a wise choice at the time.
Early the next morning the rain subsided, but thick mist enveloped everything in sight. After gearing up, I hit the desolate trail, foregoing the ridge of Mt. Sugoroku in favor of the sheltered protection of the valley. Picking my way through the boulders and snow fields, I topped out on Mt. Mitsumata-renge, where I met the full force of the gales sweeping over the ridge. Though the rain had dissipated, the moisture in the cloud cover soaked my rain jacket thoroughly, sending shivers down my exposed legs. Just like the past 3 days of my adventure, I’d been hiking in shorts and didn’t even have rain pants among my limited gear inventory.
The next stretch down to Kurobegoro hut was comfortable, since I had descended back down to the tree line and was protected from the elements by the brush pine and deciduous tree cover. I walked as if in a trance though, thinking nothing except for the hunger pangs in my abdomen. Once I reached the hut, I had a crucial decision to make. I could carry on traversing 4 or 5 hours to Yakushi-toge, or pack it in and call it a day. The decision wasn’t really that difficult to make, since I was soaked to the bone, ravishingly parched, and short of stamina. Up until this point I had survived three very long and tough days of hiking, so it only made sense to have a bit of a break. I was the first one to set up camp, shortly before 1pm. After cooking lunch, I drifted off to sleep dreaming of sunshine and a warm breeze. All in all I had hiked less than four hours, but enjoyed my lazy day, even if most of it was spend in the cramped confines of my tent. The rain once again pushed through around 5pm, and didn’t let up until sometime after dark, when I roused myself to hastily cook up some grub before the next squall moved through. Would this low pressure system continue its stronghold on the area, or would fair skies prevail? I had no contact with the outside world: no TV weather forecasts, internet connections, or any instruments for recording barometric pressure. I’d simply have to wake up and deal with whatever mother nature had in store.