At the base of Hakusan, I bailed out without even getting out of the car. The tourist center had been wrong on the phone that week. The road was still closed with a very firmly chained and bolted gate. 8 hours map time in the snow would have been acceptable, but an extra 10km each way walking on a road in the rain was not. At first light, I drove to Arashima, to sit in another wet and deserted carpark. What was I doing here? Wanting to head for the nearest train station but feeling the pressure of admitting to another failure on this blog, I went up and down as fast as possible, then headed off for Ena to do likewise.
At least on Ena there were signs of life, with other hikers to chat with, complain about the weather, talk about the dog. “Don’t her feet hurt on the snow?” one asked. Hardly. At the first patch, she lay down to lick, then sprinted up the strand of snow bank in sheer delight.
It had been another long weekend, with more than 900km of driving. On returning late Sunday night and creeping into the flat, there was a small note atop a box of chocolates waiting for me in the entrance. “I’m so sorry for making you go in the rain,” it read. It’s not just the mountains and dog I love.