I knew the route so was not concerned about doing it in the dark, but it was still unsettling. Pairs of eyes, probably deer, reflected an eerie blue in the LED headlamp and the path was steep, up through massive boulders that make Mizugaki look so dramatic during the day.
Hopes of fine views of the Kofu basin by night were dashed by thick mist at the top, and the dog struggled to find her way down through the rocks on the descent. She preferred to take detours into the forest than make large, bone-jarring leaps from high boulders. But it caused me concern several times to turn around and find no dog behind me. I would call and call, and eventually spot two ghost-like eye reflections in the blackness, and she would make her circuitous way back to me.
I drove the short hop to the north side of Kinpu and rolled out the sleeping bag in the car. The stars were now out, promising a good day ahead. We were away by 3.30, walking along a forest trail by the river. I could see the morning dew falling through the beam of the headlamp, and feel the coolness of the rushing riverwater.
We returned to the car exactly three hours later, and the first hiker was just about to set off. We had already bagged the best part of the day.