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Day Four: To Kurobegoro Goya

Day Four: To Kurobegoro Goya

We set off in the dark. The gale force winds had eased up since the previous day, but whilst we weren’t in much danger of being blown off the mountain, the residual “breeze” was still strong enough to give me a headache and throw sand into my eyes. It took half an hour or so for us to reach a more sheltered section of the trail, and by that time, the sun was starting to rise.

The descent continued below the tree line, and we spent a while winding through forests and rock-hopping over streams. Before long, Tarobei Goya became visible into the distance. There was a fairly flat, boarded stretch leading up to the hut, and as we passed, we waved hello to the dozen or so people eating breakfast by the window. With the sky growing steadily brighter and the skies looking almost clear, we were feeling quite optimistic about the day.

Getting to Tarobei hut

The first half hour or so after Tarobei was a fun, easy stroll – and it was relaxing to watch the breeze swirl through the plains, turning them into ever-changing seas of amber and green. We took plenty of photos, and I even jogged part of the distance until the trail started moving upwards again.

After that, it wasn’t long before we were back on a series of ups and downs, but as we were only expecting 650m in ascents over the course of the day, the elevation changes were much milder than those we faced on our way to Sugonokoshi Goya. I’d also developed a habit of translating vertical metres to storeys and turning a blind eye to the terrain and weather factors to convince myself that I’d be okay – after all, 650m was just over 200 storeys in a standard commercial building, so why shouldn’t it be manageable? (There’s probably a bit of denial in there, but I’ll just call it positive thinking.)

Walking toward Taro mt

We continued on until eleven or so, when sure enough, the skies started turning grey and a light drizzle began. By that point, we were about to tackle the final section of Kurobegorodake, which accounted for roughly half of the elevation gain for the day. If it had been our first day on the trail, I’d have struggled and taken my time on that slope, but I’d learned my lesson – climbing mountains can be challenging, but climbing mountains in the cold and wet is worse.

Going down

Instead of taking rest breaks, I just took a deep breath and started walking, counting my way one step at a time and not stopping until I’d made it up as far as I needed to. (The path branched off roughly ten minutes before the summit, and we chose the non-summit trail which was far less exposed.) Lo and behold, the drizzle was still mostly a drizzle, and then we were heading down and on the home stretch.

Descending Kurobegoro mt

Ironically enough, the skies actually cleared by the time we made it down. There was still an hour or so until the hut but we could already see it in the distance, standing out against the green of the other mountains we’d be crossing over the upcoming days. If you look at the photo below, you’ll spot a red and white speck towards the centre right – that’s Kurobegoro Goya. Rising behind it is the trail towards Sugoroku Goya and various other mountains, and if you could trace the ridge line past the left edge of the photo, you’d see Yarigatake, one of our upcoming destinations.

On our way to Kurobegoro hut

The path to the hut was through a fairly sheltered valley, with little creeks and plenty of rock-hopping involved, though the last part did wind its way into a forest with its usual share of eyeball-loving bugs. It started drizzling again by the time we were twenty minutes or so away, but we picked up our pace and managed to arrive before the storm hit in earnest. We made it just in the nick of time.

Arriving at Kurobegoro hut before the rain!

Inside the hut, Bruno and I celebrated our first day of not getting soaked by ordering an Asahi and a Chu-hi respectively. We also ate the bento box which we hadn’t stopped to eat along the way. By that point, it felt like we were starting to understand the Alps – as long as we finished hiking by midday or so each day, we were far less likely to drown in the rain. That meant earlier starts, but it also meant that we had most of a day to recover (and less to recover from) after arriving at each hut.

There were a dozen or so people staying at Kurobegoro Goya that night. Many of the later arrivals were quite wet, but a few reached the hut in time. Interestingly, the dormitories seemed to be assigned based on a mix of gender, relationship status and nationality. Bruno and I were the only couple there, so we had an upstairs dorm room to ourselves – the other dozen or so spots remained empty. Japanese hikers, whether solo or in pairs and groups, were allocated to different upstairs rooms based on gender. The downstairs dorm went to the Swedesh hiker we’d met the day before. It was quite different from the other huts, which seemed to either place everyone together as much as possible, or place everybody apart as much as possible.

Entrance to Kurobegoro hut

Either way, we liked the hut. It had a worn in, established feeling to it, but it was not as run down or basic as Sugonokoshi. The food was fantastic as we’d heard it would be on day two, and the kansou shitsu was indeed quite large – though we thought the heating and the layout of the Yakushidake dry room was more effective. We also found the Kurobe staff to be younger (on average) and chattier compared to the other huts.

Because of how early we’d arrived, we spent some time just relaxing and reading in our dorm, but we were still in bed by nine or so, in preparation for a nice early start. I fell asleep to the howls of the wind and rain outside the hut’s sturdy walls.

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