Back in 2003 I had a tiny company car and no idea where to ride my mountain bike as I hadn’t long moved to the Nagoya area. So I pulled out a map, looked for the mountains, found an area that looked promising (at the end of R363), and consequently found myself heading out to the base of Mt. Ena. That short day trip left an impression on me that has lasted to this day, not necessary for it’s beauty, more because of how isolated I though it was at the time. In reality though it’s not that isolated at all but as with a lot of places in Japan it can often feel like it.
Last week I decided to return to the area for another look around and to see what the autumn colours were doing. I hiked up nearby Misaka Pass and Fujimidai from the southeast on the Nagano side earlier this month so this time chose the Kuroizawa trail (黒井沢登山道) on the Gifu side.
I’m glad I did. The result were slippery wet bridges (great if you’re pretending to be an adventurer), a semi-abandoned mountain hut, and an encounter with a Japanese serow. I’ve seen these almost mythical animals a number of times while cycling or hiking and despite almost being hunted to extinction in the past seem to be thriving now. They always seem to be more curious than afraid when dealing with people so don’t be at all surprised if they stop and stare at you for a long time. This is one of the things I like about Japan – from huge urban sprawl to wild encounters with strange animals in mountain forests within only a few hours.
If you’re interested there’s a link here to the short hike on my Yamap account.