Sunday, December 25, 2011

winter cache

I love winter break especially when we have a white Christmas, even more when there's enough to ski. During break I get to eat(and cook) as much as I want, drink as much and hike and ski almost as much as I want to.

the golden glow in the distance is the Seto Inland sea area (内海) the sea itself is sometimes visible from here. It's the industrial heart of Japan in many places. About 60 km as the crow flies. The weather along the inland sea or naikai is remarkably different from ours. Usually sunny and dry compared to us.

at the right of this shot you can see the factories of Himeji, the largest city near us, about an hour on the toll road. Its golden glow of sunshine tempts us with shopping malls, Indian restaurants and other sophistication. It's nice to indulge every few months or so.



Back at home where the weather in winter can be sunny 3 days a month if you are unlucky, I was hatching a scheme. I'm 46 going on 47. Getting my self plus gear up to the beautiful snow requires more effort than driving to the ski resort, but each has their place. A small 10x10 cabin up here would be nice but illegal to build. So I decided to make a cache of the heaviest items needed for winter camping. My gear is mostly about 20 years old or more and slowly being replaced with more modern, lightweight counterparts. But without a NASA budget and the shacho (boss) ever vigilant, I still have to make due with some bulky items. Those were destined for the cache. If a badger or fox decides to make a nice nest of them I won't mind too much, but have to clean it up or course.



On Christmas afternoon it was placed on the summit, before the storm closed off the easy access by road. The plan is to hike to the cache and not have to carry an extra 8kgs.

Can you spot the hidden cache? Now it's probably covered with a meter of snow.










Now heading up the long way





a tempting bowl waiting to be dropped in on



In the distance the summit awaits still 3-4 hours away.



another 2 hours of breaking trail and it seems I won't reach the goal by dark, perhaps I placed it too far



I'll have to try another time to make it all the way













heading home
a sea of clouds, called unkai, forming in our valley













Sunday, December 11, 2011

Total eclipse

the total lunar eclipse treated us to a beautiful red sphere and shooting stars at its peak







the creek in full moonlight




one of the reasons I chose to live here is the access to the mountains
just out the door summits can be reached via short but extremely steep bushwack


here's a beautiful bowl that looks ski-able



a nice grove of small broadleaf evergreens forming a sub-canopy, pines as the top canopy

there is absolutely no level ground for a camp on the entire route up
save one 10 meter wide plateau covered with deer scat and ticks
it's a 500 meter climb over an 1000 meter distance







the problem with bushwacking is ticks, you have to stop every 100 meters or so and brush them off your legs and inspect well
the route often follows game trails
black clothing is not allowed






another thing I noticed a few weeks ago on a family hike was the complete lack of acorns, nothing! Seems like it is not just a local phenomena http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/03/nyregion/boom-and-bust-in-acorns-will-affect-many-creatures-including-humans.htmlalso this has been the mildest year for stinkbugs ever, who can't be happy about that? But they say few of them means a mild winter, we'll see.



December surprise, straggler reds