Sick of all of the crazy weather changes I decided to bite the bullet and head off to Kuju. Almost immediately I ran into trouble, a tree had fallen across the tracks causing long delays and making us miss the bus connection. But finally we made it to Bungo-Nakamura station and caught a community bus.
We hiked from Chojabaru up to Bogatsuru camp ground set up our tents. In the last hours of the day we hiked Taisenzan coming down as the sun set and darkness came over the mountains. The wind was incredibly strong and all night it beat against the tent. We could hear it off in the distance and then suddenly slam into the tent like an ocean wave.
The next morning I got up early and did a solo hike up Hijidake which was a great breakfast hike and not too challenging. After that we set off to the main hike of the day (Or so I thought) Mimatayama. The trail was gentle at the start and only became difficult right next to the mountain. We climbed three peaks but left the fourth for another day. For lunch we stopped at the mountain Onsen lodge and had a cooked meal.
This was when things got interesting (Painful?) I headed off alone to hike Shirakuchi-dake. The climb was long and arduous. Many slippy areas, mud and ropes to climb. The weather took a turn for extreme and against my expectations began to snow and hail like crazy. The wind also picked up making it a real ice storm. I made it to the top and deliberated going further but decided to climb down. It was slow going and on the way I hit my knee against rock and blood seeped through my trousers a little. I got down cold, drenched and tired. I made it back to the camp ground to find my friend had packed up and left. I checked my message only to find that his tent had snapped and he had to urgently get home. I slumped into the tent and changed my clothes and crawled into the sleeping bag. Ice continued to cover my tent and my internet stopped working for some reason. So I sat cold and tired listening to an audio book.
In the evening many more people arrived. The sky cleared up as if by magic and the wind stopped. I went out for a little walk, ate and then set in for the night. In the morning the ground was frozen, my tent was covered in frost. I made some glorious coffee and started to pack away. My hands were in agony and my shoes had frozen solid so I had to force my feet into them. I managed to get all packed away and set off back to Chojabaru. The weather was wonderful and it made the trip back enjoyable. My shoes thawed as I walked and my spirit lifted.
Back at the station I met an fellow hiker who had come from Kanagawa. He was off to Yufudake next sounds like a fun trip! I made it just in time for the train and sat back an enjoyed the view from the Yufu 1 express train as it cut back through mountains.
Despite the challenges it was a great trip and I can't wait to go back. On reflection all of the weather let me see many faces of the mountains. Kuju is a wonderful area and as long as you come prepared you will have a great time.