Sunday, December 25, 2011

winter cache

I love winter break especially when we have a white Christmas, even more when there's enough to ski. During break I get to eat(and cook) as much as I want, drink as much and hike and ski almost as much as I want to.

the golden glow in the distance is the Seto Inland sea area (内海) the sea itself is sometimes visible from here. It's the industrial heart of Japan in many places. About 60 km as the crow flies. The weather along the inland sea or naikai is remarkably different from ours. Usually sunny and dry compared to us.

at the right of this shot you can see the factories of Himeji, the largest city near us, about an hour on the toll road. Its golden glow of sunshine tempts us with shopping malls, Indian restaurants and other sophistication. It's nice to indulge every few months or so.

Back at home where the weather in winter can be sunny 3 days a month if you are unlucky, I was hatching a scheme. I'm 46 going on 47. Getting my self plus gear up to the beautiful snow requires more effort than driving to the ski resort, but each has their place. A small 10x10 cabin up here would be nice but illegal to build. So I decided to make a cache of the heaviest items needed for winter camping. My gear is mostly about 20 years old or more and slowly being replaced with more modern, lightweight counterparts. But without a NASA budget and the shacho (boss) ever vigilant, I still have to make due with some bulky items. Those were destined for the cache. If a badger or fox decides to make a nice nest of them I won't mind too much, but have to clean it up or course.

On Christmas afternoon it was placed on the summit, before the storm closed off the easy access by road. The plan is to hike to the cache and not have to carry an extra 8kgs.

Can you spot the hidden cache? Now it's probably covered with a meter of snow.

Now heading up the long way

a tempting bowl waiting to be dropped in on

In the distance the summit awaits still 3-4 hours away.

another 2 hours of breaking trail and it seems I won't reach the goal by dark, perhaps I placed it too far

I'll have to try another time to make it all the way

heading home
a sea of clouds, called unkai, forming in our valley

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Total eclipse

the total lunar eclipse treated us to a beautiful red sphere and shooting stars at its peak

the creek in full moonlight

one of the reasons I chose to live here is the access to the mountains
just out the door summits can be reached via short but extremely steep bushwack

here's a beautiful bowl that looks ski-able

a nice grove of small broadleaf evergreens forming a sub-canopy, pines as the top canopy

there is absolutely no level ground for a camp on the entire route up
save one 10 meter wide plateau covered with deer scat and ticks
it's a 500 meter climb over an 1000 meter distance

the problem with bushwacking is ticks, you have to stop every 100 meters or so and brush them off your legs and inspect well
the route often follows game trails
black clothing is not allowed

another thing I noticed a few weeks ago on a family hike was the complete lack of acorns, nothing! Seems like it is not just a local phenomena this has been the mildest year for stinkbugs ever, who can't be happy about that? But they say few of them means a mild winter, we'll see.

December surprise, straggler reds

Sunday, November 27, 2011

warm weather

It's a good thing for this

end of November and silking corn(late season) in the field??

5kg of fall pots

and then there's this......aaarrrggghhh

8 years of regular use or abuse actually, have taken their toll. This translates into 4 years of daily use as the primary heat source. I think it will need a major rebuild, which is beyond my ability.

bolts are weak and snap when turned. The damper is completely warped. Inner heat shields are cracked and more. I have it rigged so we can still make small fires though.

will be saving this nice driftwood and resorting to the giant kerosene heater as the primary.

Always wanted to make a tipi and found this great site which gave me the push needed . It's made of flame retardant white tarp 3.6m X 7.2m and rather thin bamboo poles. So much more cozy than the old Coleman, but more suited to colder weather.

I don't know who likes it more the kids or me.

A lovely place to enjoy some of this...

yamanashi-shu 山梨酒 , wild pear brandy.

a Hokkaido native working on an Ainu motif

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's been a warm fall so far, hardly used any firewood at all which is good. In the afternoons I've noticed foxes howling just before sundown and again later in the evening at about the same time night after night, and not just in this area.

Found a beautiful yamanashi  山梨の木 , or mountain pear tree off a lightly used road on public land that has been overlooked. It's loaded with fruit though they're still rather sour, have to check on it again soon.

they've sweetened up, but still much more firm than your regular pear. I gave the tree a good shake without thinking and got pummeled haha.

The first fall potatoes are so thin skinned they don't need peeling, pass the sour cream please.

After 3 years of nothing my shiitake logs caught me off guard and produced these giant hand sized monsters, waterlogged and inedible.

Persimmon jam on homemade bread

So far have gotten almost a kilo of amaranth seed, probably another kilo left to harvest in the field. Considering that 1/3 cup can yield 2 servings it goes far.

This big guy has been hanging around the village

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some of the amaranth is about 5 feet tall


and pink

I jumped the gun a bit and had to harvest some to clean and to taste . It was a little difficult to clean being rather green. Have to wait until the first frost nips and it falls more easily. It makes a nice porridge like oatmeal, has a nutty flavor and is good topped with a little honey.

Of course it wouldn't be fall without the local parasol mushrooms The aigamo in the field hunting for the day. Time to bring in the green onions, don't know if the late season black corn will make it all the way. Mr.Brown is very happy when I cover the duck run with fresh weeds. So are the aigamo who leave presents every day. Summer is over and gone are these nasties, yama-biru, ヤマヒル、mountain leeches.

summer feasting

These guys snuck in and got my good row of late season corn.