Tuesday July 29th 9 km (5.5 miles) 7 hrs
Happy birthday to myself! So I turn 26 years old today, nothing really special about that, just another year gone by. It really does seem like yesterday that I turned 23 and spent that birthday during my first week in Japan….doing what I do best, hiking! This adventure I guess is an amazing culmination of events. Anyway my journey through the Kita Alps continues. Awoke early or I should say was awoken early, about 3:30 am by other hikers getting up for a chance to catch a glimpse of the sunrise on the summit of Yakikuradake. As for me it was an opportunity to go back to sleep as the hut emptied. Once I was on my way I had a nice hike along the mountain side while a very strong tailwind whipped me up the trail towards Shiroumadake at 2932 meters (9,617 ft). Along the way I passed the point where three prefectures connect (Toyama-ken, Niigata-ken, and Nagano-ken). Saying good-bye to Niigata and summiting Shirouma, a very popular mountain amongst the Japanese which has three large hotels and all the conveniences of home, was a big psychological boost for me. Looking behind me I could see the progress of the previous days and from here on out I won’t have to ascend the amount of height I did the three days prior. For the first time I felt a sense of accomplishment. However, I do realize how much work I have to do. For the first time it was mostly clear skies and the peaks beyond Shirouma towards the Japan Sea stretched out. I could see Inuidake, Asahidake, Yukikurdake. Asahidake sits next to Shirouma and is a magnificent sight, rock and snow towering above the valley below. Further out towards the west I could see the Kurobe valley where I did an epic 3 day hike a few years back in autumn. A calm three hour hike to Yarigadake 2903 meters (9,585 ft) and then a quick 30 minte scamper brought me to my campsite with a slight misty rain falling. Feeling good and looking forward to a day of rest after tomorrow. Very pleased at everything up until this point and the first two days seem like a long time ago!