Strategic Saturday Scheming

I had a supremely late night on Thursday, working until after midnight, and thus did not ride on Friday. On Saturday morning I had an early morning haircut appointment and, once again, was unable to ride thanks to terrible timing. Yet again, two more consecutive days of not hitting the trail. I will get to ride Sunday morning, the last pre-hiking ride before heading to Nagano for an unabashed, unplugged, wonderfully joyful wilderness jaunt.

Despite not exercising as regularly as I would like, I have no complaints about the additional recovery days the past few weeks. Work has been utterly hectic, logging 12-15 hour days. Rarely does my sleep tracker show me good sleep statistics, which is quite telling. The utter lack of rest I have recently endured has taken a toll. These past two days of being able to sleep until 6-ish rather than waking at 4am has felt outstanding.

Riding a carriage 
through hot dry air —
Rendevous with the beach in 30 min.
Photo by Simon Berger / Unsplash

I am officially off work for the next ten days, with the notable exception of taking one call late next week to cover for a colleague who is dealing with a major family emergency. Outside of this lone meeting, I intend to steer clear of work, ride as much as I can, and am thoroughly excited about the upcoming trip to Kamikochi.

The latter is the star of this much needed mini vacation. It has been forever and a day or three since we have gone hiking. I love being in the outdoors. There is not much more comforting than basking in the clean and fresh mountain air, breathing in the myriad of scents emanating from the wilderness ecosystem, and being utterly immersed in rarely visited yet very beautiful environments.

Kamikochi is part of a National Park so personal vehicles are not allowed to enter into the moutains. There is a parking lot on the outskirts where many people park before hopping on a local bus into Kamikochi. The drive is roughly 4-ish hours, and the bus is another 45 minutes. The bus stops at Kamikochi Bus Terminal, right in the heart of this little resort town.

This is not how we intend to get to and from Kamikochi. I prefer not to leave my vehicle in some car park for two nights.

Instead, the plan is to take a direct bus from Tokyo to Kamikochi on Monday and stay overnight at one of the many local hotels. Then we will wake up early, eat breakfast, and start our long hike into the mountains. Our destination is a lodge deep into the wilderness, requiring a roughly six hour trek to reach.

I took this shot in a middle of “the vallée des merveilles” in the south Alps. I couldn’t see anything neither hear a single sound, everything was so quiet and so dark. But gradually I started to hear a breath, a whisper. And I think for the first time in my life I heard the stars sing.
Photo by Denis Degioanni / Unsplash

Initially we had contemplated camping outdoors in single person tents. Since we do not have any of this type of gear we would have needed to purchase a whole host of things, such as lightweight tents, lightweight sleeping bags, and other sundries. This would have been quite costly. Instead, we will be staying in a lodge overnight, which will hopefully prove to be more comfortable in the longrun.

I am really looking forward to seeing a clear night sky and getting an outstanding view of the Milky Way. In Tokyo it is nigh impossible to see a star-cluttered sky. Out in the wilderness with no ambient light ruining the view, we will hopefully be treated to a glorious glimpse of the stars.

The real question is: can the iPhone camera capture it appropriately? Due to weight considerations, I am not intending to take my Olympus mirrorless, instead relying solely on the iPhone. But I am not entirely sold this is the correct strategy, even if it is the most convenient. This is something I continue to mull over and will likely become a last minute decision.

Photo by Toomas Tartes / Unsplash

On day three we plan to awake early to try to catch the sunrise as the sun displays its full glory across the mountain range. Depending on how lucky we are, the view will be draped in its natural color, pink, or potentially even orange. Either of the latter two is what we are hoping for, but it will be pure luck if we can see capture such beauty.

After appreciating the fresh morning air, we will grab a quick breakfast in the lodge and then start the six hour trek back to civilization. Once we arrive back in Kamikochi, assuming we have plenty of time to do so, we are going to head directly to a hotel with a daily use hot spring. Soaking in a nice hot onsen after twelve hours of hiking across two days will be a triumphant end to the trip.

We may grab a bite to eat after bathing but that is entirely up to our time management. At this point the goal will be to head back to the bus terminal with enough time to take a direct bus back to Tokyo. I plan to pass out for the entire trip, and will likely not need any alcohol assistance to help me fall asleep. Another win for not driving. Public transportation is a much more relaxing way to return home after an arduous hike.

This is our basic agenda for the trip. These plans are not set in stone, with the sole exception of our bus tickets. Otherwise, we just plan to take things as they come, and enjoy being away from work and the city, relishing quality alone time.

Frothy tree-lined stream
Photo by Jon Flobrant / Unsplash

I plan to take a metric shit ton of pictures. If previous hiking trips are any indication, I will likely be coming home with 100-200 pictures to sift through to determine what is worth keeping. I actually quite enjoy this part and look forward to reliving some of the trip through whatever images are captured.

Although it is well over 24 hours before departure, I am now going to start packing the essentials just to ensure I do not forget anything important. There is quite a bit to consider when packing so I have some work ahead of me today. This is fun work, not the brutal kind I had to endure the past few weeks.

Have an awesome weekend and be safe. Peace out.

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