Back in August while browsing trails on the wonderful YAMAP app I came across a trail starting just outside Agematsu (上松) in the Kiso Valley (木曽谷) that went straight to the very top of Kisokomagatake (木曽駒ヶ岳) in the Chuo Alps (中央アルプス). On the east side in Komagane (駒ヶ根) there’s a cable car that can zip you up to the top in no time, but the Agematsu route looked challenging, isolated, and long enough to take up a full weekend of adventure. That time despite leaving at 1:30am to reach the summit for sunrise it turned out to be too difficult so we turned back at the 7th station.
This weekend I went back alone to try again with the goal of meeting my wife at the summit. She planned to drive to Komagane, take the bus and and cable car and then hike the rest from the east side to meet me at the top.
I caught the train from Kachigawa on the Chuo Line as far as Agematsu (¥1940), jumped in a taxi (¥1950) to take me to the entrance to the hike (A Course) and began hiking at around 3:30pm. The plan was to make it to the mountain hut at the 5th station for sunset, get some sleep there for a few hours and continue on to the summit in the dark to be at the top for sunrise.
If I’m honest, I’m not sure how wise it is to be hiking alone in the middle of the night up some of the highest mountains in Japan. But this route wasn’t new to me, I took all the appropriate gear, have mountain rescue insurance, knew where the huts were to rest, and had told my wife (who also knows the route) where I was going. My only real worry was finding enough water. For that reason I took to hydration packs – one 1.5 liter one and one 2 liter. There was water at the entrance to the climb from the small stream coming down the mountain, and some more just a short walk past the hut at the 5th station.
I arrived at the summit completely engulfed in cloud at around 7:00am, met up with my wife at the Houkensanso mountain hut (宝剣山荘) where I had a coffee, waited for the clouds to clear and the rain to stop, before going back out to find myself surrounded by other hikers and beautiful mountain views – a stark contrast from the isolated west side where I saw no one and nothing but forest until the clouds cleared.
I’m going to try it one more time though when the weather is better and the west side views are visible.
Does anyone else enjoy night hikes or hiking alone?