Mt Kikka – Mt Gozen – Mt Kagura Hiking

We had a bit of an adventure at the weekend. We wanted to go for a hike up Mt Shoto but we missed one train connection just as the doors were closing which meant we also missed the bus connection – the one bus per hour! We decided then to keep going down the same line to Otsuki station which had a short three-hour hike on the map.
We should’ve had some idea something was up by both the “You want to go where?” look the tourist office lady gave us and the fact that we couldn’t find the start of the trail! Lost before we’d started. This was a small temple that was not the start:

Mt Gozen 1

We found the start of the trail which, after a short flight of steps, turned into a 60° climb pulling ourselves up with ropes:

Mt Gozen 2

Some mushrooms along the trail:

Mt Gozen 3

This was not the smartest thing to be doing in 33° heat and humidity but we managed to reach the top of that peak where, if you look closely, you can see Mt Fuji:

Mt Gozen 4

That was the first of the three peaks and was relatively straightforward. Generally after the initial climb you can walk along the ridge line with only some up and down:

Mt Gozen 5

There was some quite nice hiking in places – well I’m sure it would be enjoyable in Autumn anyway:

Mt Gozen 9

But it soon became clear that the city council, figuring no-one in their right mind would go hiking in the middle of summer, didn’t bother to maintain the paths and just let them grow for those months. It was like a jungle! The paths were criss-crossed with spider webs, we literally had to slash our way through overgrowth in some places, we lost the path a couple of times. We were like a pair of Dr Livingstones! Eventually, we made it down the mountain only to find the last stairs so completely overgrown we couldn’t even see the path. Here are some iPhone snaps.

This is the ‘path’:

Mt Gozen 6

At some point what goes up must come down – then get lost, then go back up again, find the path and come down:

Mt Gozen 7

Somewhere in here there were stairs:

Mt Gozen 8

Moral of the story: don’t go hiking in Summer (and if you do wear long pants)!!

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