Islands

September 6, 2007 | Filed Under Uncategorized 

“So where are you staying tonight?”
“At the top of the mountain.”
“At the hut?”
“No, at the top of the mountain. I’ve got my bivy bag with me.”
“……”

Along the col from Hakuba to Karamatsu, then along the ridge to Goryu hut. At 4pm the last few stragglers were making their way back down from the peak, and I set out for the top.

“You won’t make it down in time! The sun’s setting in a hour.
“No problem, I’m staying at the top.”
“Gaijin are…” he searched for the word, “..unique.”

Looking back from the peak, the hut is the red structure centre-left

The summit was about the size of a billiard table. I scraped the larger rocks away and cleared a space for the night. The clouds rolled in on the warm air from the Sea of Japan and cut off my little island in the troposphere from the mainland below. Other islands jutted out in the distance, black against the pale clouds below. I wondered if there were others out there, shipwrecked like me for the night.

I pulled out my bivy bag, fleece and hat and settled down. My last memory is of watching golden vapour trails cross-cross far above. I woke again around 9pm to a full moon so bright that for a moment I thought it was the sun. And then again at around 2am, after the moon had set. The lights of Hakuba shone 6000 feet below in the valley, while the black night sky was shot full of shooting stars.

The tide of clouds rolled out by morning, leaving us dry and exposing other islands in the south – Mount Fuji, Yatsu-ga-take and the southern Alps. I rolled up my bivy bag, shouldered my pack and started the long decent to the mainland below.

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