Monday, October 30, 2006

The mountain resembles a woman of an almost translucent grace and beauty

Well, those were Osamu Dazai's words in his book on the Tsugaru peninsula, and the mountain, of course, is Iwaki. He writes of old legends which state that where the mountain can be seen at it's most beautiful throughout Tsugaru, namely the towns and villiages of the central Tsugaru plain, the women of those towns and villiages also possess great beauty. This doesn't say much for the girls who live in places like Ajigasawa and Fukaura, since Dazai writes that "Seen from the coast, the mountain looks totally worthless - in tatters, no longer even the shadow of a beautiful woman". Well, I'm sure that if you've ever spent a day at the beach in Ajigasawa during the summer you'll sternly disagree with both Dazai and the old bit of folklore.

Anyway, I had a great day up on the ridge today and here are some shots that leave no doubt as to the beauty of the mountain.

The leaves around the shrine are at their peak, but most of the trees above 600m are already bare. It's my favourite time of year right now, and even though I had quite a bad cold today I felt a lot healthier being up there in the fresh air.

The Tsugaru plain, where all the beautiful girls live, apparently.

I got to the peak at about 3.30pm today, which is cutting it fine for this time of year. There was a bit of mist running over the top which didn't do my cold any good at all.

I've pictured this rock before in black and white. It reminds me of a face; staring out to the west coast.

There certainly was an air of translucent grace and beauty as I fumbled my way over the rocks heading back down. Lucky I took my head-lamp with me because by the time I was at he woods it was damn near pitch black with all the trees blocking what light there was from above. I got down after a while though, but I really crapped it going through the last stretch of forest at this time of year and at dusk. That's when the chance of coming across a bear is supposed to be at it's greatest.

Mum, this one's for you. My new hat:

Monday, October 16, 2006

4am wake-up for 紅葉

I got up at 4am today for an early morning hike. My idea was to catch the sunrise from the rocks and to get some shots of this year's autumn leaves. As the old saying goes, the earlly bird catches the best light. It was lovely, but I was about fifteen minutes late to the rocks for the sun. That didn't bother me though because the light in the woods this morning was great.

I got to the rocks at around six and sat there taking shots for a few minutes, but I had it in my mind to be at the top by around half eight or nine, so I went on promptly. At the 'Devil's Ring' the sun was starting to shine on the adjacent ridge and you could see just how fantastic the reds were in the woods. I kept going though, in order to meet my target.

I don't know how many times I've photographed this little shoulder sprouting off the mountain. It looks really good when you're sat up there on Akakura, but I never seem to get the shots I want out of it. I ate an apple and went on up to the top.

I got up there a little bit late, but I wasn't too hard on myself. In this shot you can see the old shed where people sleep sometimes, and in the foreground you can see the ruins of the souvenir shop that used to sell over-priced badges to fair weather hikers. I'm glad it got crushed under the snow this year, and I'm glad they didn't get it back up in time to rip off this year's punters.

I don't know why but I never find peaks very good places to take photos, not usually anyway. Today though, perhaps because of the early light, I found that the peak was alright.

Pondering over what time limit I should set myself to get down.

I don't keep count, but I know I've climbed this mountain about 45 times now from the bottom of the two main trails to the top of the old bird. Before I leave next spring I want to make sure I have a good clean 50 climbs under my belt, and realistically I only have about 7 weeks left to get those last five done, so expect some more of the same over the coming weeks folks because I'm going to relish every last moment of it before it's gone for good/the time-being.