A Japanese family outing.

October 23rd, 2013, 12pm

It was 19°C with few clouds. The breeze was gentle.

Or, “How our fall trip got tripped up”:

Being trekking novices we had planned our route through the mountains to-the-tittle, but in our gazing towards the mountain-obscured horizon, we boarded the wrong bus, and disembarked at the wrong station. This was not our trail, or at least, not the beginning of our trail. We had, in essence, arrived at the end of our journey.

The original route promised a steady incline spotted with waterfalls and picturesque views of the peaks to come. It promised further that upon reaching the summit our descent would be difficult but swift – an ideal conclusion to a day of hiking. With no options as the morning was late and our trip on its head, we set out on our heels.

The path we took could best be described as a staircase built for a man, but manned by a child. The grade we ascended cut twice as deep knowing it was meant for our descent. But we were determined. We were relentless. We would show no weakness – especially to the sixty-year-olds hiking casually alongside us. We took comfort in the scenery and our lack of expertise.

Destinations are certainly defined by their respective journeys, but this was our exception. At the summit of any mountain, figurative or not, you’ll find a lot of things. A flag, peace of mind, a sense of accomplishment, other people taking pictures with that flag and folks sporting those same looks of accomplishment. This summit was no different, we found hikers of all shapes and sizes. Being Japan, there was even a shop to eat cup ramen and drink Japanese beer. But at the top of Mount Tounodake (塔ノ岳) we found this view, and this family.

What seemed difficult for us had been a pleasant family outing for them. They had come a different way and had arrived similarly. The little one had been carried, but the slightly-larger-than-little one had made the trip upright. We stood and panted, they sat and nibbled. And while we were happy to reach the peak, take in the views and drink Asahi Super Dry – we were just as happy to be informally invited to their family meal.

Chris, Adrian, Jordan, Christine and 6 others said thanks.

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Ryan Ruel

Graphic/Web/UX designer, avid gamer, amateur cyclist & budding CrossFitter from Chicago—living in Tokyo. Full time creative director at www.aqworks.com Sometimes a designer for www.hi.co

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