大 – big
菩 – sacred tree, kind of grass
薩 – buddha
嶺 – peak
My buddy Andrew and I decided to set out on another hike. This time of course, he was able to get his hands on a pair of hiking boots so that the snow wouldn’t dominate him like it did last time.
We got to the trail head shortly after 8 AM after a 4 hour drive and the first thing we saw was the picture above. We both had no idea what the majority of the words were but we didn’t need to. The ominous outline provided enough information.”Welp, guess we’re not hiking today Andrew.” He let out a small laugh, “maybe its for Pokemon Go and its one of the pokemon that hasn’t been unlocked yet. They might just be asking for help to unlock it.” I didnt laugh. I knew that the first two kanji were for bear and “outing” and the last two at the top were for “caution.” Andrew’s smile faded as he acknowledged the potential danger that lay ahead. Neither of us had ever seen a bear, let alone a warning sign that there has been a recent bear sighting.
He sighed, “A ship in harbor is safe —but that is not what ships are built for…” I closed my eyes and shook my head. “Ship’s also don’t have to worry about bears…Andrew….” His smile returned, “Hey man, my money is on the Pokemon Go theory.” I knew we didnt have much of a choice. We had already driven four hours, and neither one of us were the type to turn around after such a commitment. Accepting our challenge, I sarcastically recommended that we take out our bear bells, since neither of us had one.
We left the bear sign behind us and began our hike. We were lucky. There was no snow, no wind, and as the sun lazily crawled across the sky, it became warm enough to hike in just a shirt.
Unfortunately, the first thirty minutes didn’t feel like a hike at all. To our right was a long, winding road that had the occasional car pass by, completely robbing us of our “immersed in nature” feeling. To our left was nothing by fallen over logs that could have been hiding spots for bears. Without any incline, or boulders to scale, we were unable to focus on anything but trying to spot a bear before it spotted us. We stopped every five or ten minutes, wondering what a particular rustling noise was, or looking behind us for a curious bear.
Finally, as the hike started to pick up, we were able to distract ourselves from “bear evasion.” Unfortunately for this story, the hike was pretty straight forward…for the most part.
Almost a soon as we reached the main peak, we saw the mountain’s previously dull personality come to life. As we cleared the trees, the wind almost instantaneously began to pick up to 20-25 knots and the clouds rolled in. People ahead of us were leaning and digging into the wind as it roared across the mountain top. It was hard to hear anything greater than 15 feet from you as the wind whistled its way past you. Had I had any small children with me I would have seriously been concerned about them being blown off the side of the mountain. The temperature dropped AT LEAST 15 degrees, hell, I would argue maybe even twenty. The easy going conversation Andrew and I were having quickly became a chore as the numbing wind all but eliminated our facial motor abilities. I cursed myself for not bringing gloves as my hands began to shake and capturing pictures became increasingly challenging.
As the wind and chill continued to pick up, Andrew and I noticed what looked like it was a rain cloud off into the distance heading our way. I began to panic a little. I had no gloves, no rain coat, and my >$5 camera was not water proof at all.
We picked up the pace, knowing we had at least 3 hours left on the trail, hoping we could beat the rain cloud. We made it down what would have taken us an hour in just over twenty minutes.
That’s when the skies decided they could not hold out any longer and it began to sprinkle. The falling rain started to freeze our already numb faces and hands. I took the picture below, turned my camera off, and placed it in my backpack. Worried that the rain would pick up, our brisk walk turned into a jog, which then turned into a sprint. Luckily for us, it was all downhill from there. We reached the car after a challenging 90 minute run down the side of a mountain with no hypothermia and no bear sightings. Still, Mt. Daibosatsu seemed to have gotten the better of us that day.