After a day of rest, I enlisted the company of Kanako for an ascent of what has to be the strangest name on the list: Kanakuso. The word literally translates as gold shit, an apt name considering the Golden Week holiday now in full swing. We arrived at Nagahama station on the eastern shores of Lake Biwa by mid-morning, negotiating with a taxi driver for the 40-minute drive to the trailhead. The driver had never been to the mountain before and grossly undercharged us for what should have been a 7000 yen ride. Taxi drivers in the countryside will quite often agree on a pre-determined price before their journey and simply shut off the meter when the negotiated fare is reached. Fortunately for us, the meter reached our agreed-upon price of 4000 yen before we even reached the start of the forest road.
Our driver negotiated the hairpin turns of the windy road like any seasoned driver, much to the chagrin of Kanako, whose soon lost color in her face. At the mountain pass, we stepped out of the cab and bid our driver a farewell, stuffing his business card into my back pocket to ensure a return ride off the mountain. Two steps into our hike and Kanako lost her breakfast all over the trail. To make matters worse, a quick confirmation on the GPS revealed that we weren’t even on the correct path: the route quickly vanished into a sea of overgrown bush. Kanako was not a happy hiker, but we pushed on through the bamboo grass, whose tufts still lay heavy with snowmelt. Several of these tricky snowfields needed to be traversed before we finally reached the real trailhead in a heap of sweat and fatigue. I gave Kanako some snacks to help ease the nausea.
The trail lost altitude quickly as it dropped to a mountain pass just below the saddle of the peak. Astoundingly, the forest road that we just left looped around and met up with this very saddle. All we needed to do was continue walking on the road down the Gifu side of the mountain and we would have reached the correct path. Gold shit indeed.
It took close to an hour for the no-nonsense climb up the spine of the mountain, but we popped out on the summit of mountain #60 just before noon on a bright yet hazy morning. The horizon was stained yellow with aeolian dust, reducing visibility to 10km at best. On a clear day, the summit affords some of the best views of the Hakusan and the Kita Alps from any mountain in Kansai. I thought about leaving my own gift of gold on the summit but my bowels would not cooperate.
After a brief rest, we headed back down the way we came, but this time opting to stay on the path. It would take us all the way back to Nagahama station if we allowed it, but after reaching the forest road we threw in the towel and called the cab. We simply walked down the forest road until the taxi caught up with us. Our driver handed us two cold bottles of Aquarius which were much appreciated in the stifling spring heat.
With two peaks down, one more mountain remained to round out the tryptic.