Photo above – You’re rarely alone in the mountains here.
As I’ve mentioned before one thing I’ve noticed about hiking in Japan is that regardless of how remote the peak or mountain range is you’re very rarely alone. Absolute solitude is hard to come by. I guess that’s a direct result of a large population, a wildly popular pastime, and beautiful, accessible hikes almost everywhere outside of the big cities.
I like being alone, especially in the higher mountains – it’s the main reason I go there – but knowing that there is often someone else on the mountain is reassuring. Hikers in the bigger mountains generally keep a respectable distance from each other as everyone’s purpose is the same – to experience the beauty, solitude, and adventure that only the big mountains offer. I once saw a bear on the decent of Minami Komagatake and the hiker above was only 10 minutes or so behind me. Useful if the bear had turned nasty (which, of course, it didn’t).
Checking 3000m+ peak trails on Yamap reveals that even now in the depths of winter people are still hiking to the summits and often camping out in freezing conditions. Is that what it takes nowadays to find real solitude? Winter and deep snow? It seems like people are going to greater and greater lengths to get away from modern life and reconnect with nature.
I envy them but don’t yet have the courage to hike a high peak in winter, especially by myself. I should though. Time waits for no one and the scenery must be breathtaking at this time of year.
I was inspired to write this based on the latest post by possibly my favourite ex-photographer, cyclist, runner, and book maker.