CHAPTER 29: Lake Akan & Meakan

CHAPTER 29: Lake Akan & Meakan

Although I originally planned for Hokkaido Nature Tours to provide me with only transport and guides for the climbs of Hokkaido’s hyakumeizan peaks, the company’s founder, Ido Gabay, constructed my itinerary in a way that not only maximized my chances of success (an important consideration, given my aggressive timeframe) but transformed the necessary “rest and travel days” into opportunities to experience much more of Hokkaido than I dared to hope for.

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CHAPTER 28: Takuto & Tomuraushi

CHAPTER 28: Takuto & Tomuraushi

September 13-14, 2018 This photo supplement tracks the events in CLIMB: Leaving Safe and Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan. The captions offer “extra features” that didn’t make it into the book. Due to straining my knee on Tokachidake, I ended up canceling the next day’s scheduled climb of Poroshiri–which meant I absolutely would not be able to complete all 100 Hyakumeizan peaks in a single year. I’d already decided to shift the goalpost, however, and climb 100 historically and culturally important/sacred mountains instead, so the loss meant less to me than it otherwise would have. After a rest day, which

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CHAPTER 27: Tokachidake

CHAPTER 27: Tokachidake

September 11, 2018 This photo supplement tracks the events in CLIMB: Leaving Safe and Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan. The captions offer “extra features” that didn’t make it into the book. On the morning of September 11, my Hokkaido Nature Tours guide (who I’d christened the Yamabushi) and I drove approximately 200 kilometers from Sapporo to Daisetsuzan National Park in Central Hokkaido–home to some of the tallest mountains in Hokkaido, including our target for the day: 2,077-meter Tokachidake (Mt. Tokachi). What look like “normal” cumulus clouds in the photo above are actually clouds of smoke and steam rising from the

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CHAPTER 25: Hokkaido Nature Tours

CHAPTER 25: Hokkaido Nature Tours

September 6-9, 2018 This photo supplement tracks the events in CLIMB: Leaving Safe and Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan. The captions offer “extra features” that didn’t make it into the book. I’d wanted to visit Hokkaido ever since learning the names of Japan’s four major islands (from north to south: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu) in grade school–and I’d been looking forward to this trip in particular for over a year. On my most difficult days in chemo, I read and re-read the amazing itinerary Ido Gabay of Hokkaido Nature Tours designed for me, and the anticipation gave me strength

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Welcome, Spring . . . and Sakura-Flavored Everything

Welcome, Spring . . . and Sakura-Flavored Everything

Springtime in Japan means the return of the beloved sakura (cherry blossoms) — on the trees and on the plate. The blossoms are arriving about two weeks early this year. The trees in my Meguro neighborhood are already setting buds, and on my walk yesterday afternoon I spotted the first blossom of the year: When I stopped to take a picture, a woman walking next to me also stopped, looked up (to see what I was looking at) and startled. “Sakura!” she exclaimed. “Honto desu ne? Hayai desu ne.” (“Is it really true? They’re early, aren’t they?”) I agreed with

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CHAPTER 24: To Play With Crows

CHAPTER 24: To Play With Crows

August 14, 2018 This photo supplement tracks the events in CLIMB: Leaving Safe and Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan. The captions offer “extra features” that didn’t make it into the book. August is not the best month for mountain climbing in Japan. It’s hot, humid, and generally unpleasant in Tokyo, and while the more mountainous surrounding prefectures are somewhat better, it’s still a challenging (and potentially dangerous) time to exercise. That said, when you’re trying to climb 100 mountains in 365 days, you haven’t got the luxury of waiting on the weather, so with the summer heat in full swing,

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CHAPTER 22: Summit Dawn

CHAPTER 22: Summit Dawn

While it’s possible to climb up and back from the summit of Mt. Fuji in a day (and given the altitude of the Fujinomiya trailhead, I actually made several longer one-day round-trip hikes during the 100 Summits year), we opted for the more typical “overnight hike” in order to try and catch the sunrise from Fuji’s summit.

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