All posts tagged: lakes

Pilgrim Country!

I, KUKAI, WAS FOND OF WANDERING OVER MOUNTAINS IN MY YOUTH. WENT HIKING TO THE SOUTH FROM YOSHINO FOR ONE DAY AND THROUGH TO THE WEST FOR TWO DAYS. CAME ACROSS A SECRET ELEVATED PLAIN CALLED KOYA… ~ from a very fortuitously situated poster (a copy of which I immediately bought to send home), here in the tourist information centre in Koya where I am tapping out this post — and tapping into some free wifi & electricity — before hitting the pilgrim trail. *          *          *          *          * Hey there, folks. There’s an old monk tapping sporadically at the free PC here in the info centre. Things have changed a tad since Kukai (or Kobo Daishi as he was posthumously renamed) founded the place in the ninth century. Another example: there are a lot more foreigners on the streets these days, including this one. And my pilgrim staff is made of aluminium… I could go on, but I have …

Boulder-Hopping in Wildflower Heaven

Well, folks, here I am again in my de facto Tokyo office with the soft-jazz soundtrack and the students frowning over their papers and textbooks with the single caramel frappuccino they’ll ride till the ice melts and beyond, and the convenient power outlets spaced along the window bench — my main reason for hanging here (apart from the tobacco-free policy). Su-tā-bakku-su.  I’ve been busy, and it doesn’t seem like my posts on this trip will ever be less than a week older than the events they describe. Here I am about to talk about Day 3 of my Daisetsuzan adventure and since then I’ve already done two Tohoku hikes and returned yesterday from a magnificent (but very hard) three-day trek through the Minami (South) Alps, highest range in Japan. It nearly killed me, but it was worth it! You’ll remember the busted tent pole from last post. Well, at a little ma-and-pa outdoor store just around the corner here in Kichijoji, an energetic youngster in jeans tight enough to break bones was able to decipher my problem …

Just a Tiny Bit Lost in the Big Snowy Mountains

“I wasn’t lost; I just didn’t know where I was for a few weeks.” ~ Pioneer mountain man Jim Bridger This morning I was able to wash my one set of clothes for the first time since I’ve been in Japan — not counting the odd river-rinse or campground-sink cycle. I feel like a million dollars — or should that be 92,026,068.88 yen? I’m back in Tokyo as of last night, where I bunked down again at the first capsule hotel I stayed in (I’ve since slept in two other pods in Sapporo). Another night there tonight, this time in the mixed dormitory, since the male-only one was full. I don’t know why so many Japanese businessmen stay there, since the atmosphere is very western youth hostel, though pretty quiet, with European longhairs lying about and piles of crap all over the hallway floor. But it’s cheap. Even with all those transient gaijin, 30 bucks for a night in Tokyo is pretty damned good. Today’s a rest day — a zero as we’d say on the trail. …

Sitting on a Snowy Ledge, at the Adirondack Edge

BUCK MOUNTAIN, MARCH 7, 2014 Buck Mountain lies on the southeast shore of Lake George, and it is a perfect introduction to the Adirondacks. Pick a bright day in May and start your Adirondack hiking with a great climb. ~ Barbara McMartin, 50 Hikes in the Adirondacks The Buck Mountain hike — and chapter — is #1 in McMartin’s guide, one of a growing collection Kate and I have started amassing. It was also, appropriately enough, our first Adirondack hike as a couple (cue the chorus of Awwws), a nice easy out-and-back (as the American idiom has it) hike of almost seven miles in total. We did make it a little tougher by picking an overcast day in early March, but yes: it was still a great climb.

Danger: Thin Ice!

What the hell is my weather app playing at? was my thought as I left home a couple of hours ago for my five-mile walk downtown. “Sunshine and cloud mixed” and 6C or so were to be my rewards for surviving till the first full day of (official) Spring; the reality was swirling snowflakes, a cold breeze and only two fleeting appearances by an ever-submissive sun.

Lugano: A Swiss-Italian Interlude

I’ve been sick for five days now, but I’ve enjoyed my time away from school, even so, and did a great though slow and medicinally enhanced walk yesterday. After I hit “PUBLISH” on this post I’m going to endeavour to get my sorry carcass out there to hit the magic number 50. It’s sunny and enticing, too good a Sunday to waste. I set a vague goal of 100 outings for my year here but at this rate I should exceed that.

Waist-Deep in the Weg der Schweiz

The legendary pact sowing the seeds of the Swiss Federation was signed, so the story goes, in 1291 at Rütli Meadow on the shores of Lake Uri — the Urnersee — a bay of Lake Lucerne. The significance of Rütli in the Swiss psyche was further enhanced in the dark days of WWII, when, surrounded by German (two million troops in occupied France alone!) and Italian forces, General Guisan mobilised the Swiss Army, summoning his officers to the site to outline his Reduit (“redoubt”) plan. Rütli is also the start of the 35km Weg der Schweiz (Swiss Path), opened in 1991, commemorating the 700th anniversary of the Rütli pact.

An Audience with the Queen of Mountains

I’ve had some exhilarating experiences on snow, but it’s been a volatile relationship. I’ve been unnerved by the stuff in Japan and the U.S., and I’m also not very tolerant of prolonged or extreme cold. Where most other hikers on the PCT last year claimed to love the High Sierra, I couldn’t wait to get back down on solid, clearly discernible ground. Switzerland in early winter was the setting for an occasionally testing but always magical reacquaintance.