27-Mar-2004 -- Making most use of Seishun 18 ticket (JR one-day free pass), I set out a weekend trip to Chugoku region. My target is a Confluence point in Hiwa-cho, Hiroshima and Yamato-cho, Yamaguchi on 27 March 2004.
Having boarded on the first train to East from Hakata station early morning, it took me four trains to reach Bingo Shobara station. I finally made there at a quarter past two in the afternoon. More than seven hours train journey! Well I should have reached Shobara much earlier if I could take a connection train at Hiroshima station within two minutes connection time. I however missed the train because I was bringing a folded bike. So I spent one and half hour at Hiroshima, which was a good break for eating and stretching my muscle.
The last leg to the confluence from Shobara station was by bike. Bike is convenient transportation here because bus to Hiwa-cho is less frequent. The distance is as less as 20 Km though it is uphill biking. I reached Akebonokan, Hiwa Onsen, hot spring about at about 16 hours. It was behind my schedule. Breakdown of a cyclecomputer attached to my bike and lost of the way to Akebonokan made time loss. I needed hurry to climb a hill to reach the confluence point since the sun is setting.
I biked on the road toward north from Akebonokan to near the confluence as much as possible. The road on the way was under restoration work due to apparently recent landslide. I took detour road crossing a stream and reached the closest place to the confluence on the road. It was about 360 m from the confluence. Apparently there was fairly vertical distance between the confluence and where I stood. I parked my bike and looked around to see if there is any tails going up through the forest.
Quick scouting the surroundings resulted no hope. I made up mind to bushwhack. First part of forest was well maintained cedar forest which was easy to climb through. After going through cedar forest I tried to stick walking on a ridge through natural forest. Climbing was difficult. Slope is steep and slippery because of fallen leaves. It was good insight to bring trekking pole with me. It helped me climbing up and down a lot.
As I climbed up the slope became less steep. I eventually discovered a trace or an animal trail eventually, that was vague thought. It was still about 200 m from the confluence. I kept climbing up on a ridge. Finally I reached the confluence in the middle of natural forest. The point was steep southern slope about 20 m down from the ridge I was trailing. It was 17:05. Dusk was coming soon. There was neither time or mood to congratulate my success.
The confluence was under thick natural forest. I could receive GPS radio. I wonder if GPS radio can reach on the ground during summer time. You cannot see anything but trees. The area is so steep that my drink bottle stopped 5 m down on the slope when I accidentally dropped the bottle.
After I logged and took picture for the proof I immediately started going back. Downhill was more dangerous. I needed to grasp trees and roots. I tried to trace back. I judged where to go down based on my observation about surroundings rather than using GPSr's trace back function. Eventually I came down to the forest road, which is 200 m north of my starting point.
I returned Akebonokan to stay overnight and enjoyed Hot Spring.
Those who want to go the confluence should have hiking and navigation skill. Be fully prepared for climbing.