Wednesday, July 09, 2008



Here is where I truly found solitude. And, unexpected in Japan, wilderness. Unpeopled, thick wilderness. A five day hike took me down the spine of the mountain range, the roof of Hokkaido.

Day 1: A 4000' climb up a smoking volcano. Switchbacks must be frowned upon here. I eat dinner atop Hokkaido's highest peak at sunset, and camp on rock - only a few mosses and small hardy plants can grow this high.

Day 2: Trails here assume a desire to climb mountains. The track just goes up and over every peak along the way. Once more, an absence of switchbacks. Volcanic soils show me layers of red, green, and rich grey. I descend into the alpine plants, and they are exploding with eager blooms. The smells are intoxicating, and the landscape dotted with yellow, purple, white. I see bear tracks after lunch, and vigorously shake my bear bell for the rest of the day.

Day 3: Oh, rain. Oh fog. Oh wind. I hike through brush - like hiking through a carwash five miles long. My gore-tex, pinnacle of waterproofing technology, gives in after 30 minutes and water streams from my sleeves and pant legs. I am left alternately miserable and exultant at the fog-shrouded beauty around me. Smells of rock, snow, and vegetation are made richer by the moist air. Sometimes the trail disappears under snow-fields. The wetness seems like it must go on forever.

Day 4: Sun. Exultant joy at the first dry patch that appears on my pants, and the blessing of footprints ahead of me. Someone has beat me to the punch, sweeping the rain and dew from the brush along the trail. By lunch everything is dry, my belly is full, I think that joy might come shooting out of my ears. I hike ridges, bask in the intoxicating smell of sweet flowers. There is forest and rock as far as I can see in every direction, and I am only with myself. I think my face is still creased from the magnitude of my smile. Also my shoes smell like a skunk that died of terminal halitosis.

Day 5: From solitude to society. It is sunday, and I see hundreds of people. I don't know how to react. The beauty continues, but is somehow diluted because I have to share it with so many. Thinking becomes difficult, and I meet many many people. It is a long day - I take a path to avoid walking on the road. It is longer, I think, but so much nicer to walk in the woods. The path goes straight up a mountain and straight down the other side. I am so relieved to set up camp that I lay in the grass at my campsite and laugh. I wash at the hot spring there at the campsite.

Realizations from the hike, do with them what you will:
1-Skepticism and reason are useful, but too much of them can suck the color from life.
2-Everything is our experience of it. There is no universal truth.
3-Nothing is certain.
4-Nothing is permanent.
5-So I should just relax.

Any thoughts?


bmoore said...


I love reading your thoughts.

Your writing is so poignant, beautiful, and perfectly you.

It adds color to a moment that would otherwise be filled only with monotony and routine in a sea of cubicles.

Thank you! And please keep writing!

bmoore said...


You're so poetic, I feel like I'm reading the memoirs of some wonderful writer that won't be truly appreciated until long after he's gone.

Your writing adds beauty and color to a moment that would otherwise be filled only with the monotony of daily routine in a sea of cubicles.

Thank you!

Best wishes, and please keep on writing!