Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Are there elevators in Canada??

That's what one of my first graders asked me today during our introductory Q&A time...


I also got:

What bugs do you like?
What bugs do you hate?
Do you eat raw bugs in Canada?
Do you like snakes?
What are some famous animals in Canada?
What's your favorite color?
What color don't you like?
Why don't you like purple?
How many pets do you have?
Why don' t you have pets?
How many people in your family?
Do you have any famous foods in Canada?
How tall are you?
Do you have any friends?
What character do you like?
What's your favorite cake?

Inquiring minds wanted to know!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Holy Typhoon!! Holy Mountain.

Japan is notorious for enumerating itself. It started in 1643 when scholar Hayashi Razan listed 'The Three Views of Japan". Since then there have be various other
'Top 3" lists and recently I've learned that there is a list of the 100 most famous roads in Japan.

Well, as of this past weekend I have completed a hat trick of the 3 Famous/Sacred/Holy Moutains of Japan. I climbed Mt. Fuji 4 years ago (in a typhoon), I've climbed Mt. Tate (pronounced ta-tay) and now I've been to the to of Mt. Haku (or Hakusan as it's called here). This time, I and 7 others narrowly averted another typhoon episode on a holy mountain (my ame-ona powers can be annoying...).

In two teams of four, we started out for Ishikawa prefecture Saturday evening hoping to make camp, get up early and conquer Holy Mountain #3 on Sunday. We arrived at our destination- in the rain - to a closed campsite. We took one look at the ryokan (Japanese style inn) nearby, had Chika-chan negotiate a price we couldn't resist, and before we knew it we were snug in our sleeping bags in a nicely heated tatami room.

When we woke up in the morning we had to catch a bus to the trailhead which was still farther up the mountain. We were geared up for at least one night on the mountain, but we knew our plans could easily change with the impending typhoon scheduled to hit around noon on Monday.

We met some hikers who were heading down and they warned us that tenting at the top was not recommended. Apparently the typhoon was coming faster than first expected.

We made it to the emergency shelter and decided to drop most of our gear off there, head to the summit and then come back for our gear and head back down to the trail head.

It was great to drop all that weight for the last couple of hours up. We stopped for lunch just before the quick 40 minute sprint to the peak where we took some photos, prayed at the shrine, and then headed down again. It had been a beautiful day (the typical calm before the storm) but the wind was picking up and we certainly didn’t want to be clinging to a rock somewhere when the typhoon blew over.

The climb up was tough, hot at the beginning with lots of slippery spots and some scrambling. But it was nothing compared to the climb down on those same slippery spots and scrambling down. Not long after we left the emergency shelter with our gear, we heard a helicopter overhead.

It was circling Hakusan and telling people to get off the mountain! We paused long enough to get a couple of photos then kept moving so that they’d know we were heading in the right direction -down.

By this time the wind was strong enough to shake us around a bit. We were happy to finally get off the exposed ridge and out of it’s way!

We made it back to the bus stop/shelter around 6:00 p.m., where two of our team mates had already arrived. We had missed the last bus down, so they had negotiated with the guy at the shelter to allow us to stay there for the night. It was a large community room with 3 tatami style benches and 3 wooden benches.

Needless to say, we were tired and hungry. Owen was in charge of dinner and he had all the goods for tom yum soup with thai curry and rice. And to top it all off, we shared a bottle of red wine. Dessert was chocolate and Bailey’s. We were really roughing it!

By the time we were in our sleeping bags the typhoon was on it’s way –about 12 hours early! It hit hard in the middle of the night and kept the big sliding doors rattling nonstop. Some of us didn’t get much sleep and before we knew it it was morning and the mountain patrol was banging on the door asking us when we’d be ready to take the bus down!

We packed up, and said goodbye and thanks to my now favorite of the 3 Holy Mountains. It was just challenging enough, with great weather for the climb, sufficient facilities and astounding views.

My team was great and I would climb with them again any day! Thanks for another weekend of wonderful memories!