第二塩江ハイキング経験 – Shionoe ‘Hiking’ Experience #2

There was another hiking event scheduled in my town that invited some friends over for.  This time around we did some BBQ the night before setting out on our adventure.  In addition to my group of friends, I also invited one of my Japanese coworkers that I had enjoyed teaching with for the last year.  He was not quite awful at English, and definitely excited about joining in the festivities.  As people started to arrive, nine in all, it was starting to shape up to be quite a good night.  We bestowed command of my rusted out grill to Ryan, while the rest of us took care of things indoors.  The smell of burning charcoal that was outside billowing into the house all night was sub par, and only now a couple weeks later has the smell dissipated.  In order to contend with the guests’ appetites, I also set up a table top burner as well.

Bellows are for bell-ends

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This was a BYOB/BYOM situation, so I was plenty pleased since I had a stockpile of meat I was keeping in the freezer for just such an occasion.  After cooking it up and digging in, people began to question if that was such a good idea.  I can generally eat most things, but 18 month old brown turned meat was not likely fit for consumption by any living thing.  I gave it another shot by dipping it in some yakiniku sauce, but alas, I could mask neither its freezer burnt taste nor the cardboard texture so we had to stick to some alternative options.  No one fell ill in the end, so I’d say no harm no foul.  At the end of the night, people sprawled out on my stash of futons and crashed until morning.

The crew.  By this time Ryan was made an honorary American

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When everyone was roused from their slumber, I boiled up a big pot of mediocre sausages and burnt pan a eggs for everyone.  They all said they would throw in for breakfast, but they didn’t.  Not sure if that’s because I did such a poor job preparing it or not, but I at least didn’t have to feel bad for ruining it.  After another joined the group and another couple left,  we got ready and set out towards the hiking meeting spot, except there was no one around. A short drive down to the town tourism office, confirmed that they had misprinted the dates in the catalog which meaning that we would have to fashion our own outing.  The first place on the new plan was the Fujikawa Dairy Farm, though we stopped at Kaminishi Elementary to have some photo fun first.

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People often come here with their young kids to see both cows and a number of other farm animals.  There are a lot of other activities people can enjoy here too, like making cheese, enjoying playground equipment and eating their home made ice cream.  After supplementing our breakfast with the ice cream, we hung around a bit and took more photos.

This was our ‘boy band’ pose

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To my delight, there were banana bikes like what I recall renting at the Holland State Park during the days of my youth.  My friend would argue that I nabbed one from one of they children that they were intended for, but I’m no so sure that I agree with that assessment.    I was just excited to get back in the seat of one of these things.  These contraptions are steered by leaning and compared to the weak kids I was pretty awesome.  I was definitely invoking awe and perhaps jealousy in the eyes of the parents.

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Things were going great.  I was zipping around, contending with the gravel and the grade, cool as a cucumber.  Though it all took a turn for the worse when my endeavors surpassed the realm of physics.  In the blink of an eye, I was catapulted from the seat and across the harsh gravel, but by the time my friends had responded to the commotion I was already up on my feet.  I opened up the palm of my hand and also replaced a good chunk skin of my massive rear flank with an increasingly moist wound that oozed through pants and underwear for several days.  Cool, very cool indeed.

Not bad at this point, but the bleeding and location made it awful within a short while

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It was time to move on, so we hopped in the car and I drove us up to the peak of Mt. Otaki.  This thing is just shy of 1000 meters and one of the larger rock piles around me.  I had been up to check out the shrine long ago, but further inspection revealed that there was also a temple from the 88 temple pilgrimage up there.  This wasn’t the finest temple I’ve ever seen, but I do want to see as many on he circuit as possible, without going too far out of my way.

From there we satisfied the hiking portion of the outing by walking about 10 minutes along the ridge of the mountain.  The view was mostly blocked by trees, but we had a nice time anyway throwing sticks and rocks and quoting The Truman Show.

Serious hikers

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We decided to bring our day of trekking to a close by popping into Ikoi Shokudo.  This little restaurant offers a few different options, but the reason to go is certainly the chukasoba.  The five guests all ordered in line with my recommendation and all were very satisfied.  Chukasoba is a Chinese noodle dish not unlike ramen, but these noodles are a tad different.  There are also some really flavorful bits of chicken cartilage that add a lot.

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The last stop of the day before heading home was to the foot bath near the hot springs village.  My town is quite famous for the hot spring resorts and just outside of the most famous one is spot for people to soak their weary feet.  After spending so much time on the trails, this was just what we all needed.  It was really relaxing and punctuated the end of a great day.  The intended hiking plans had completely fallen through, but I was able come up with a Plan B that eclipsed those.  We all had a great time and will look forward to giving people a reason to hang out in my neck of the woods.

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