It was a wrong turn at this junction that denied me my 4th summit of the day, the last time I was in this area (Return to Shizuhara). And, if I hadn't been so pigheaded, when I realized my mistake, I could have u-turned and easily got back on track.
As I have an obsessive disposition, I wasn't going to let this rest and immediately put into plan my return. My research revealed another couple of summits that required my attention - Mt Ryuodake and Mt Amagadake - along with a couple of unnamed peaks. My course would also include a few previously conquered summits - Mt Suitaiyama, Mt Konpirayama and Mt Hyotankuzureyama.
With the track just a few meters away, I couldn't help wondering if the icons had some attachment to the course I was about to endeavor. Well this section anyway.
For the next 30-minutes the track would ascend 240 meters in a steep, zig-zagging fashion, on it's way to my first summit of the day - Mt Ryuodake. Having payed close attention to the weather forecast, and the predicted high temperatures, I had already worked-up a sweat and was looking forward to taking-on some cold water and my first banana of the day. It had been three hours since I consumed breakfast.
From Ryuodake the track would follow a ridge-line for a few hundred meters before descending onto the Yakkouzaka-togi Pass.
Thirty minutes after leaving Yakkouzaka-togi I arrived at my second summit, - Mt Toyamine (525m). This is the one I missed-out on conquering during my last outing into the area, so I felt some vindication for my pig-headiness upon my arrival.
And, 10-minutes further on, 'that' junction. The one where it all went wrong. I felt like giving the sign a kick but, as I still had a long way to go, I didn't want to risk injury to my foot. So instead I made a physical gesture to the sign and carried on my happy way. I was aware that my track was taking me along a ridge-line, at the same time gradually ascending. From Toyamine to my next summit - Mt Amagadake - was a difference of over 200m. All throughout from my departure from Yakkouzaka-togi, I was very impressed with how well signposted the track was and, looking at the condition of the track, a well beaten track at that.
Once the obligatory photo opps' had been gotten out of the way, I found a nice soft piece of ground to plant myself, take-out the flask and lunch-box and relax. Well, that was the idea. Just as I was about to take-off my boots I noticed a large red stain on my socks. Signs that a leech had been feeding on my blood supply. Thankfully he hadn't consumed too much and I was able to remove him before he became bloated. How-the-hell these worms manage to make their way to my ankle, while I am on the move, is a source of fascination for me. But, as I had a hot coffee waiting to be consumed, I wasn't going to dwell on it any longer.
After leaving Amagadake, and a disappointing lunch - I say disappointing, as my bread-sticks were dry and stale, the bananas were soft & mushy - my track descended to this junction. At this point I could choose to cut my day short and emerge at the settlement of Ohara, and a bus back to Kyoto, or continue on. I chose to continue as I knew, just a way up ahead, was a fresh water spring where I could replenish my water supply. But, before that . . . .
. . . . Mt Suitaiyama (577m). The track took me over the summit but, to get here, I had several undulations to contend myself with which left me feeling very parched. All I had left to drink was one more cup-of-coffee, but I was leaving that for my arrival at the Kotohira Shingu Shrine.
Before that though, I had more undulations, then Mt Konpirasan. The track bypassed the summit - the summit is a 10-minute detour from the junction - and, as I have been here before, I wasn't going to tire myself by returning.
Kotohira Shingu Shrine was a welcome site.
Leaving Kotohira Shingu, my track emerged at this concrete Torii on the edge of route-40. Here I crossed the road and, a few meters on . . . .
. . . . my next junction. From this angle it looked very steep, and I began to question my decision as to whether I should continue. My map told me this next segment would take 90-minutes. I decided to stick with my plan. I was pleasantly surprised that the ascent was only a few minutes before arriving at another ridge-line.
I was even more overjoyed when, just over an hour later, I arrived at the junction to Mt Hyotankuzureyama. Like Konpirasan, I decided to forgo returning to the summit and instead descended into the settlement of Iwakura.
Soon after leaving the junction I encountered my first, and only, Jizo of the day. Although it looks quite large in the image, actually it is small and easily missed.
With the sounds of the city ringing below me, I began to feel excited that my day was nearing it's end. How wrong I was. My descent was boring, and dangerous to say the least - 300m over 2km. Nearly 8-hours after arriving at the start, it took me the best part of an hour to reach this junction on the outskirts of Iwakura. I still had a good walk of about 3km before reaching a bus-stop and onto Demachiyanage Station. Followed by a train ride and ending with another bus ride before reaching home.
Looking back on the G.P.S. data, the course was just on 28km long. I wouldn't recommend doing this during the summer months, unless you had plenty of fluid. There were a couple of good views, but mostly I was surrounded by forest.
Before I sign-off, I want to share some images of the many fungi I encountered along the way. Many I haven't seen before . . . .
So, until next time,
Course details - https://ridewithgps.com/trips/16039932. I can't guarantee the accuracy of the course due to the poor internet reception in some areas.