Spring Hiking

Sunday was the Spring Mineoka Walking event at Oyama Senmaida. We had 29 participants on a 7.5 km course along the country roads and up the mountain.

My main role was doing a warmup with everyone before we left, then walking at the end of the line with the slower, chatty walkers. It was fun and I had lots of nice conversations with people.

Bring up the rear, I missed out on Ushimura-san’s explanations of the nature and geology we encountered, which is a shame because the parts I did catch were so informative.

I am excited to have the geologic map she prepared of our course and the surrounding area. We tromped over four different formations, at least: sandstone, mudstone, shale, and serpentine.

Mizuta-san talked about the history of the mountain – a big rock wall from the early 1700s divides the cattle ranch from the rice farms and there is a large flat area right in the middle of the mountain where the cows were gathered up to water them. This place and the people who know it well never cease to astonish me.

After that we focussed on walking up, up, up until we got to the peak of Daisan with its gorgeous view.

While most of the hikers headed along the ridge to take in the eastern view, I stayed behind with one family whose daughter had a tough time on the last section of the climb. She needed a break. So we all conversed in Japanese and shared words in English, making linguistic connections to nature.

“What is 苔 in English?” Mom asked, running her hand across a mossy rock.
“That’s called moss,” I answered.
“Ah, like moss green! Truly the same!” It was a delightful moment of revelation.

The half hour we hung out together passed quickly and then the whole group headed back down the mountain for lunch.

Or so we thought. Two people veered off and headed in the wrong direction. As realization dawned that we had more sandwiches than people, the missing pair phoned Ushimura-san. Whew! They weren’t far or in danger, just down the wrong road. Kawasaki-san drove over to get them as the rest of us tucked into our chikko rice burgers with gusto.

We finished the hike an hour later, with all 29 participants arriving at Tanada Club to enjoy a cup of hot, sweet amazake.

I had snapped a couple of other photos through the day that don’t quite fit the story, and I especially like these three little memories:

Glorious sunset from the top of the fields later that day.
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Mediatinker, Kristen McQuillin, is an American-born resident of Japan since 1998. This blog chronicles her life, projects, thoughts, and small adventures.