Sep 10, 2010 at 9:30 am #1263158
I've been corresponding with Glen for quite some time now about his upcoming trip to Japan. With the help and sponsorship of Evernew and Yama to Keikoku magazine (Mountain and Valley, Japan's premier mountain magazine) and Hiker's Depot, Glen will come to Japan next month, give a presentation, and then join a number of UL enthusiasts here in Japan for a three or four day walk in the Oku-Chichibu mountains west of Tokyo. This is very exciting news for UL backpackers in Japan, many of whom have never seen firsthand a lot of the trend-setting techniques that Glen and others at the cutting edge use. I can't wait to see his pack and how he uses his gear. Seeing him use it on the trail should be a great learning experience.
It will also be great to have a chance to finally meet someone who has always been a great pleasure to talk to. Looking forward to some great walking and memorable company!Sep 10, 2010 at 12:03 pm #1644558
Seriously, it sounds great. I lived in Tokyo when the first LL Bean opened there in the '90s. Not sure what the current outdoor scene is like now, but I remember many wonderful trips in the Okutama and general region you mentioned. I'm sure Glenn is going to be impressed by the scenery and mountains of Japan. And he'll probably be surprised to find you can buy a beer at the top of many mountains in Japan!Sep 10, 2010 at 5:17 pm #1644643
Good timing, I was about to email you about Glen's trip to Japan.
My family will be there next week but I have just started a new job so unfortunately I can't go with them – but they have my shopping list …
Give my regards to Glen.
cheersSep 11, 2010 at 5:36 am #1644724
I'm sorry that you won't be making it. You had said earlier that you might be coming to Japan in October, so I was looking forward to seeing you again. Zannen.
There is a possibility that I might not be able to do the walk, either. My school has decided to send me out for a weekend student "babysitting" camp and unless I find someone to replace me, everything will fall through on my end. I do not want to miss this!Sep 12, 2010 at 4:09 am #1644888
"I do not want to miss this!"
+1 to that.
I'm still really missing Japan – even though we returned to Australia 3 years ago! So I will try to visit in January, but it depends on whether I can get leave from my new employer.Oct 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm #1652758
I just got back yesterday from walking with Glen and nine Japanese UL hikers here in Japan. I had to bail out early due to getting quite sick, bad fitness, and inadequate insulation for the greater than expected cold at night. Glen himself just barely got through the first night with his own insulation system. Many of the other hikers also spent the first night shivering in their shelters. Today, the third day, it is raining. Glen is using a prototype tarp which he has never used in the rain, and rain being what it is here in Japan, and his tarp being as open as it is, I'm quite worried. I hope everyone got through the second night all right, since it was colder last night than the first night, and that tonight it isn't windy.
In spite of having to bail out early, it was fantastic meeting Glen and all the others, and to get out, for the first time ever for me, with other UL hikers. I learned so much from the experience. The group is an assortment of very cheerful characters who laughed throughout the time I was with them and did their best, in their limited English, to make Glen feel welcome and comfortable. A lot of them were in incredible shape, especially one guy whose blog name is "Beyond", who, at 45, last month ran a 120 km trail race at night with no hydration in 21 hours. Trying to keep up with them was futile. I realized that I need badly to get back in good shape.
One thing that became a standing joke among everyone is Glen's suggestions to me just before the hike when we were weighing our packs with Glen's famous scale. He looked at my pack (which was admittedly heavier than it should have been) and told me to lose the MB down vest and MB synthetic insulated pants, plus a number of other things. I'd agonized over what sleeping bag to take and if I should bring the insulated clothing, and before I got to the trailhead had decided on a light summer bag with the down vest and insulated pants. I decided to keep most of the other things he suggested leaving behind, but, foolishly, took his advice about the insulted clothing. I regretted it that night.
We all laughed about it when we got to camp, but of course, my bad judgement wasn't Glen's fault. One thing about UL hiking is knowing the conditions that you are heading into. Glen obviously didn't know what the mountains are like in Japan; he'd never been in them before. He would not have known about the very high humidity and how it lowers the temperature about 5 to 10 degrees Celsius. Luckily his sleeping bag was just warm enough. He didn't tell me, though, that he had brought HIS down vest! Grr!!! :-)
Since I'd never done any UL hiking with anyone before, there were a lot of things I hadn't known. This was the first time I used an alcohol stove for a longer than two-day trip and I brought way more alcohol than was necessary. When everyone saw my big 1 liter alcohol fuel bottle they burst out into laughter and handed it around to make a whole host of quips about it. I'm never going to live that one down.
I think Glen was a little surprised by just how steep the trails are in Japan. The first day was brutal, seven hours of tough scrambling up and down among boulders. I didn't continue on the second day, but at 20 km in those rough sections I'm pretty sure everyone was beat when they reached camp.
They all finish tomorrow and I'll be going out to the end of the trail to meet them there. Then on Monday it's two seminars, talking about UL.
Hope everyone is doing well out there.
Glen Van Peski with Japan UL hikers. That's me on the left.
Glen speaking with Hiker's Depot owner Tomoyoshi Tsuchiya (the one who brought all this together and the leader on the trip, and Jotaro Yoshida, owner of Locus Gear. You should see his Khufu Cuben Pyramid! It is beautiful! The workmanship is jewel-like!
View back along the trail we walked the first day. In the back is Mt. Kinpu, quite a grueling climb.Oct 8, 2010 at 7:52 pm #1652765
Ben 2 WorldBPL Member
@ben2worldLocale: So Cal
Nice pics — and thanks for sharing, Miguel!! Sorry you felt unwell. Curious, what was the expected temp for your location this time of year — versus what was actual?Oct 8, 2010 at 8:27 pm #1652775
Hi Ben. I actually already knew what the temperatures would be like, since I've hiked in the mountains in the same area so many times I've lost count, including this time of year and later. I wrote to Glen about it before he came. My problem is that I didn't heed my own experience, wanting to learn more about going light weight from Glen (his pack is truly amazing!) and for once trying to get outside my comfort zone (which I'm much more nervous about doing on my mostly solo hikes. This was the first time I'd ever hiked with other UL hikers, people who knew what to expect, so there was some comfort and sense of safety in being with everyone, that gave me the incentive to leave the insulation behind. I don't think I would have had the courage if I had been hiking alone).
Glen measured the temperature on the first night at around 40ºF, which he said had never been a problem for him before. We talked about the great humidity, and he voiced surprise at how cold it felt. The humidity gets right into your clothes and you can feel it in your bones. We all discussed whether down or synthetic would have been better, and though most of us brought down, there was concern that it might have been different had it rained that first night. I'm definitely bringing at least partly synthetic next time, just to make sure.
I learned a lot from this direct experience rather than by looking at gear lists and reading what others write here. In some ways I'm happy that I made the mistakes I did, or I would never have learned what I should not do. I'm more confident about stove and fuel usage now, I'm more certain about what insulation I should be bringing next time, I realize that I've got to get into better shape, and I even got quite a few great tips from the others about what food to bring and how to cook it.
I didn't put up the photos, but because of how cold it got we all retreated for about two hours to the nearby mountain hut to sit and talk and get out of the cold. Glen said that it was unusual for him to sit around talking and drinking (nearly everyone had brought something strong to kick back with) in camp at night, that usually after he finished dinner he went right to sleep and stayed warm that way. I don't think the Japanese quite saw the fun in that, feeling that the time spent sitting around talking with others was an important part of hiking in a group. It certainly cheered me up. But it also required warm gear to sit around in.
The experience has given me a much better idea about what everyone here is doing in terms of UL. And my respect for those of you who go really light has multiplied considerably!Oct 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm #1652783
Eugene SmithBPL Member
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
1L of alcohol… what were you thinking Miguel!? ;) I'm thankful you shared your experience Miguel, both the ups and gentle downs. It's interesting to read your account of Glen in Japan, he came there to lead a seminar and found himself learning a thing or two as well.Oct 8, 2010 at 10:50 pm #1652799
"In the back is Mt. Kinpu, quite a grueling climb."
The one time I went to Kinpu-san it was such a beautiful summer morning I considered leaving my rain-wear in the bus. Just around the time we were leaving the summit area I saw an enormous black cloud hurtling towards us from around Yatsugatake. The trip leader and the others saw it and we bolted to get off the ridge and down amongst the trees before it arrived. We'd just got to the edge of the trees when there was this enormous crack of lightning, a big boom of thunder, the clouds opened up and the trees disappeared. I expected it to be really noisy from the rain on the trees but it was totally silent: this had me puzzled for a second then I realised with a shock that it was actually snowing. Further down the mountain the snow turned into rain and we had that for the rest of the way back to the bus.
So, yeah, weather in the mountains can be unpredictable.Oct 9, 2010 at 2:23 am #1652808
Very heavy rain here in Tokyo tonight. I hope everyone is doing all right up there. The clouds will make the temperatures a little warmer, so I hope that will make the night bearable…
D.W., this was my fourth attempt to walk the Kinpu~Kumotori trail, and therefore somewhat of a personal challenge to finish it. I told Glen that I think the mountain god of Kinpu has it in for me, since something always manages to happen to stop me. The first time it was the failure of my eVent jacket, wetting right through and leaving me so cold that it wasn't safe to continue. The second time it was as you describe, a huge lightning storm that drove me back just before I reached the summit. The third time, again, just before the summit, I inexplicably got very sick and had to slowly make my way back down the mountain. When I got to the parking lot there all the symptoms disappeared. Then there was yesterday, when I got sick the day before and my insulation was inadequate. I'm still coughing badly right now. I wonder if I will ever finish the whole trail.Oct 9, 2010 at 2:30 am #1652809
Oh great. The thunder and lightning just started (very rare for this time of year in Japan). Probably means torrential rains. Not good.
Well, at least Glen will get to try out his prototype shelter in the rain!Oct 9, 2010 at 4:57 am #1652819Oct 9, 2010 at 5:07 am #1652822
"I am surprised the hike was not cancelled."
Well, I don't want to say it but …. cultural issues at play?Oct 9, 2010 at 5:19 am #1652825
Rick, about an hour ago I wrote to the one other member who went down with me, voicing my concerns about the rain. I also mentioned the danger of landslides as you did. This time of the year is most dangerous in Japan because it is still warm enough for people to dress too light, but with torrential rains, typhoons, possible snow, and very unpredictable temperatures be quite dangerous. I'm going to be going to the end of the trail tomorrow and wait for everyone just in case. At least I have a very good idea of where they probably are and their pace. I hope the storm doesn't get any worse just yet.
Japanese get so few chances for vacation time that they often take risks when they do get vacation simply because they want to get out there. This opportunity with Glen is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many of the members so perhaps they were being a bit rash. Most of them are very experienced, though, so probably they will be all right. Just don't want any accidents or emergencies to crop up though.Oct 9, 2010 at 6:22 am #1652828Oct 9, 2010 at 9:03 am #1652868
Dan DurstonBPL Member
Wow…sounds like some pretty intense weather. As long as everyone makes it thru okay, it'll be a great learning experience.Oct 9, 2010 at 9:37 am #1652876
@mikefaedundeeLocale: Under a bush in Scotland
The point you raised about humidity is a very important one. I usually hike in low pressure weather systems that drag in humid air from the Atlantic. Occasionaly we get high pressure systems that drag in drier air from Europe. The same sleep system that will keep me warm in freezing Dry temps will usually not be enough in wet and cold conditions we usually get here in Scotland.Oct 9, 2010 at 6:22 pm #1652994
Mike, I used to live in Boston where the temperatures in winter often got down to around -20ºC. When I moved to Japan, and lived in the town (Gotemba) on the flanks of Mt. Fuji the temperatures never got below 0ºC, but it always felt far, far colder in Gotemba than in Boston because of the humidity. Even wearing a thick down jacket wouldn't be enough sometimes. I guess it must be the humidity in Scotland which makes it so cold and dangerous in the winter, even though temperature-wise it is not really outrageously low.
Last night we had torrential rains here in Tokyo. It must have been bad up there in the mountains. I've not received any word from anyone, up there or down here, so I'm guessing they are all right?
Will just have to wait and see.Oct 9, 2010 at 6:59 pm #1653008Oct 9, 2010 at 10:30 pm #1653038
Just heard from the trip leader Tomoyoshi and from Glen. Everyone made it out in one piece. It looks like four other people bailed on the second evening due to their inadequate insulation, though Glen said the remaining people stayed in a hut that night. It didn't rain until the daytime while they were walking, so there were no worries about the shelters. They even made it out early today and stopped at a hotspring to relax. Sounds like the remaining five had a great trip!Oct 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm #1658025
Glen Van PeskiBPL Member
@gvanpeskiLocale: San Diego
I had a great time in Japan. The ultralight hiking community was so friendly and welcoming, I instantly felt like one of the group (even if I couldn't understand most of what they were saying). It was a really fun and warm bunch of people. I would consider some of the trails a little rough by western U.S. standards, more in keeping with parts of the A.T. The last day we were up at 5, hiking by 6, and hiked pretty much straight for the next 12 hours in 45-degree rain. I would have been okay with another night out with the gear I had, but it didn't hurt my feelings to end in an onsen (mineral hot springs).
I can't wait to go back.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.