All posts tagged: lightweight hiking

The Highest Man in Hokkaido

Hey, folks. First of all today, would you like to see my Nikkas? Happy to oblige. First, here’s one of the pair of convenient travel-sized bottles I bought in the gift shop just before boarding the cable car up the side of Asahi-Dake a few days ago. The kind lady even wrapped each one in bubble-wrap without me even asking: And here’s one I took last night as I walked home from dinner to my third (and best) capsule hotel, here in Sapporo, Hokkaido. This is at the other end of the Nikka size spectrum: I do believe in the responsible consumption of ‘alcohol,’ even in the mountains, just like the authorities in Japan. Me, I like to keep the manner, and I do my best swearing in private: That gondola: I don’t really believe in the things. They’re like bridges to islands — they kinda mess with definitions. If you can fly halfway up the side of a mountain in minutes, is it still a mountain? But dang, that pack of mine was heavy. …

Flying by Falcon, Rocking with Rose

Travelling in Japan is all about the trains — well, except for those annoying mountain-hiking parts. The whole country is a train-spotter’s paradise, with prizes including the almost obscenely streamlined Hayabusa, one of the fastest shinkansen (“bullet trains”) in Japan… ..within which I sped yesterday from Tokyo to Aomori in the extreme north of the main island of Honshu, and the Hamanasu… the opposite end of the train-technology spectrum, which rocked and rollicked through the night, beneath the Tsugaru Strait to emerge onto vast Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest island. Even the names are cool. Hayabusa means peregrine falcon, and Hamanasu is the Japanese rose, Rosa rugosa,a name which captures its rambling, exuberant energy, even if it’s not especially macho name for a train. I’m typing this aboard the final phase of my Daisetsuzan-bound railway odyssey (there’s still a bus to go after that), a Super Kamui Limited Express from Sapporo to Asahikawa. A quick check suggests that kamui translates as “divine or powerful”. This seems like a favourable omen before my upcoming excursion. That ride aboard the falcon …

The Night and Then the Mountain

Put on your shoes Put on your coat We’re going out… James McCann, ‘Been Round Here’ A friend in Sydney, Carl, had sent me an album not long before Jeju, a gritty dark-blues collection by an Australian singer called James McCann. I’d played it a few times but didn’t realise any of it had sunk in. But out of the blue, early in the evening as I swept fresh snow from the tarp and put off crawling beneath it, this one mournful number, the lyrics at once regretful and menacing, slipped into my head, spun around three times and settled in for the night.

The Shorncliffe Shuffle: Countdown to the Great Ocean Walk

It’s cold. For Brisbane, anyway. In fact, a couple of days ago was the city’s coldest in 11 years, with a maximum of 12 and a half degrees Celsius. It was also, apparently, the coldest June day here since 1916, when an 11.3C maximum was recorded. Probably a good time to head somewhere tropical and sunny. Not this idiot. Tomorrow morning at 6:55am I get on a plane south, to freezing, windy, coastal Victoria, for a hundred kilometres of solo trudging along the coast south-west of Melbourne. Wonder why I can’t get people to come hiking with me.

A Cup of Tea on the Gorilla’s Brow

These hills lie but a little way inland, and not far from each other, they are remarkable for the singular form of their elevation, which very much resembles a glasshouse for this reason I called them the Glass Houses… ~ Extract from Cook’s journal, May 17, 1770 The Glass House Mountains towering above pineapple and macadamia plantations are an iconic vista here in South-East Queensland. A dozen or so imposing humps and spires and cones, remnant plugs of eroded volcanoes, jut from an otherwise level plain inland from the surf and sand and chai-latte-flavoured holiday strip of the Sunshine Coast. Although only an hour’s drive north of Brisbane, you feel the very atmosphere change as these weathered hulks with their marvellous Aboriginal names — Beerwah, Beerburrum, Coonowrin, Tibrogargan — start to fill your windscreen. I always find myself transported back 20-odd million years to when this wondrous landscape was alive with gas and smoke and bubbling lava, valleys of fantastic fronds below quivering with the passage of resident megafauna… I was born 20 million years …

Lament for a Lost Lead Weight

A landscape, like a man or woman, acquires character through time and endurance ~ Edward Abbey, ‘A Voice Crying in the Wilderness’ Walking to the station today, enjoying the blazing morning sun, I happened to glance into a local’s cactus garden. And that got me thinking about deserts, and old Edward ‘Cactus Ed’ Abbey, and cacti, which transported me back to the first days on the Pacific Crest Trail last year.