I run through the dark, through Mt Mizugaki’s primordial forest. A Freudian nightmare of a pitch black mountain. I’m all alone, and unseen creatures scream and howl in the night. The forest beats a tachycardic rhythm of raindrops as it shakes the last of the rain from its leaves. On and on I run, praying for that first turn of the sky from deep black to dark wine. Suddenly it was upon me, and the dawn reaches for my shoulders and seems to pull me to the summit just as the sun clears the nearby ranges.
I’d come through the nightmare and been reborn here while the mountains gathered to witness the event. Fuji showed her outline briefly before pulling the clouds back around herself, and for a short while the Southern Alps loomed above the plain. The Yatsu-ga-take range maintained its steady watch. The sky was a jagged mess of mares’ tails, the remnants of last night’s storm, with no portent of what was to come.
Mizugaki’s spiritual connections to the region run deep. Early on the people made the obvious connection between the fertility of their rice crop and the proud granite spires that adorn the summit and so rent the clouds. Even in modern times, the mountain has a power and presence that belie its stature.
The mountain holds mysteries too. Under many of the boulders which lie strewn across its face, sticks have been placed as if to prevent the boulder from rolling away. They range from the biggest branches to innumerable twigs. For what end? Who places them? A joke, or something more serious? In the pre-dawn glow they loomed, anthropomorphic figures of decaying matter trying desperately to hold back the inevitable.
But this beautiful day took a dark turn by mid morning. From Mizugaki I decided to climb on to Mt Kinpu. Fast and felt strong I made the final ridge which leads to the summit. Forty minutes, maybe an hour on that exposed ridge. I was ten minutes into it when I saw the thunderheads on Mt Kobushi a few miles away. They were black, except when they ignited for a millisecond to arc out the summit. The flash was blinding; the rending of the air ten seconds later was worse, and they were moving this way. I didn’t need to think. I turned back in a split second.
Off the ridge I tried to outrun the coming storm, crashing ever closer, and ran straight into a team of four who were still moving up. I could scarcely believe what they were doing. Deaf, blind and stupid they continued. I told them the storm was coming up on the ridge fast, and was roundly ignored. I continued to run down. Flash – one, two, three, four, five – boom! Fifteen minutes later the lightning hit Kinpo. Flash – one, two, three – boom! then it hit the ridge repeatedly. Then the storm overtook me in a war of hailstones and turned its attention to Mizugaki.
It sickened me to watch those men go. How wantonly they gambled with their lives. Taking risks when you have some control over the parameters is one thing. Running headlong into obvious danger is another. I hope they came to their senses and turned back. But something tells me they didn’t.
They say zen is a cauldron of boiling oil over a roaring fire. My yoga is a vrksasana tree on a 100 foot column of granite.