The first leg of the climb was up a series of ski slopes which left us all winded but still feeling like we could climb a mountain. From the ski-jo we entered the woods and bug country. The cicadas and other insects were deafeningly loud! Though thankfully mosquitoes were rare. As we continued farther up the trail became more rocky and the incline increased. We took plenty of small breaks to catch our breath but over all the climb up wasn't bad. There were a few touch and go moments where I had to sing my song about being a mountain goat, but I made it. We also had amazing luck with the weather. It was cool and clear the whole day!
Half a kilometer from the summit we took a long break for lunch and filled our water bottles up from a mountain spring (quite literally), which was awesome. The last push to the top was a bit rough but all the hikers coming down gave us words of encouragement (mou chotto! gambare! kiotsukete!). Sean was the first to reach the actual summit with me right behind him. It was definitely worth the climb though I never realized I apparently have a slight fear of heights! I got up there with no problem but looking out and seeing the ground 1,819 kilometers below was pretty freaky. My measly human body seemed far too... MORTAL!
On our way down we stopped at the rest area once more though everything had been closed and all the other climbers seemed to have disappeared. It was about 3pm when we began our decent. We chose a different trail than the one we climbed up just to gives us a change of scenery, though I now think of this simple decision as the worst decision of the trip.
The path we chose going down was brutal, to say the least. The first .5km or so was nothing but sliding down a steep incline on loose rocks. It was nearly impossible to find a firm footing and one step down often resulted in a mini-land slide and we all found ourselves falling on our butts multiple times. After falling for a kilometer or so we stumbled into a swampy/jungley area where signs warned us to run if we saw clouds of yellow gas as they could suffocate us. The bugs here were especially nasty and we pretty much just barreled through it as quickly as possible.
After one last stretch of sliding down a dusty hill of dirt we thought we were getting very close to the end of our trail and would be emerging at the ski slopes again. This proved true, but we were at the very TOP of the slopes and our trail all but disappeared. By then we were sore and exhausted. We hadn't been able to take many breaks because the gnats and other swarming bugs were just too much. We tried to sit on the slopes for a bit but breathing, swallowing and having bugs fly into our eyes got to be too much.
The trek down the slopes was by far the worst part of the climb. Ski slopes are STEEP! And covered in slippery weeds and grass and dirt and apparently full of bugs. I lost my footing so many times and nearly went tumbling down the mountain a few times more. Going down was especially hard on the knees, which did not feel healthy. By some miracle we eventually made it to Inawashiro Ski-jo and our knight in shining armor, Alan, came and picked us up in his car. By that point I was sunburned and delusional and had resorted to tying my jacket over my head and face to keep the bugs away.
Once safely delivered to our car we stopped at 7-11 for the second best microwaved burrito I have ever had! (First best microwaved burrito will always be that one burrito I ate walking home with the boys after a long night of drinking)
I got back home around 8:30pm and after a meager attempted at washing some of the mountain dust off, I was passed out in bed by 9pm!
In conclusion: I climbed a mountain. It hurt. I'm glad I did it but I will never do it again.