For a while now, I’d been wanting to take another hike in the nearby Tanzawa range, but having other things to do and not having a hiking buddy available kept getting in the way. Luckily, my friend Nicole had a friend, Pat, visiting from the States and my usual hiking partner (when Toni’s out of town) Lauren had some time available as well. So we made a run for it and initially, it looked like it was going to be a beautiful, clear day. When we got to the little village at the trailhead however, we saw that we were definitely going to be climbing into some serious clouds. We started our climb in slightly chilly and damp conditions that just got more and more so. Pretty soon, we were passing people coming down the mountain who, after much gesticulating and broken conversation in both Japanese and English, told us that there was either a lot of snow further up, or a blizzard. Being totally over this fall/winter of mild temperatures, I immediately latched onto the blizzard conclusion which was later shown to be completely wrong. On the plus side, there was quite a bit of snow at the summit, so there is hope for a real winter after all!

Along the trail, there are two large temples with a ridiculous number of steep stairs and some lovely views… assuming that they aren’t obstructed by clouds. As we ascended into said clouds, the temperature dropped quickly and just above the upper temple, we saw quite an interesting sight. There was a helicopter flying into a very steep, narrow valley picking up buckets of dirt excavated from what looked like a tunnel. “How strange” we thought, “why on earth would anyone use a helicopter to move dirt?” We never did get an answer, or any worthwhile pictures, but it was pretty cool watching through the trees as the helo swooped in and hovered below us.

Near the summit, there was a torii gate standing on the brink looming out of the clouds with an old building behind it. It just looked so eerie, I spent a lot of time just looking and feeling the sense of the place before I even got my camera out. It had such an otherworldly feel to it and I’m so glad that the three of us were there to experience it. I think some of my images from that day really captured the essence of the feeling of the place and I’ve included a few of them below. Click through to my zenfolio gallery to see the rest!