On Saturday my colleague Chris Carver and I joined PTO for another day of conservation work on Mount Ogura. After a solid day of rain the day before I had fully expected Saturday’s work to be cancelled, but the rain held off in the morning and the planned day of work went ahead. It was very humid up on those forested slopes, but we were fortunate with the weather as the next solid downpour didn’t occur until the evening – after our descent. The views over Kyoto from Mount Ogura are always spectacular, but Saturday morning they were rendered strange and mysterious by the mists and cloud.
On reaching the summit, we spent the day pine felling. There is a pine disease decimating the pine forests on the mountain. By removing the trees that have already died and burning them, the hope is that the disease will be prevented from spreading further. I first participated in this work a year ago, since when many more trees have died. It does seem like an endless task at times. At one point though, chopping up a tree by myself, I looked up the slope and saw a large stag and one or two doe flashing through the trees. A magical moment! I’d seen plenty of their droppings before but never caught a glimpse of them on the mountain.
Cutting down the pines with hand saws, and carrying the wood to the sorting area is all good exercise and after the branches have been chopped and put into manageable piles there was a bit of fun in what Stephen Gill refers to as the Ogura Olympics – jumping up and down on the piles of smaller branches to flatten them down.
Really very springy indeed!
The fuzz around the edges of the pictures is from the mist adhering to the lense. The lenses of Chris’s glasses kept misting up too! It was so humid! Here we all are half way down the mountain after a solid day’s work.
And here is a view down the Hozu river valley on our return journey. Here from somewhere down in the valley we heard the long, high call of a stag calling for its mate – a typical autumn sound and a motif in much Japanese poetry.
After we had parted company with the bulk of the group, Stephen, Chris and I popped into a Balinese cafe/eatery named Koiuta Salon for a quick drink before going home. The people there were very friendly and I’m told they do a very nice green curry, and nasi goreng. We settled for a bottle of Bintang each. After a hard day of hiking and chopping down trees, I have to say those Bintangs tasted superb! Here are the owners and their beautiful Bintangs!
If you fancy a spot of Balinese food, or Balinese coffee or just a Bintang beer, the Koiuta Salon is opposite Saga Elementary School on the corner of Marutamachi Street and Prefectural Route 29 (府道２９号線）.
The next day of pine felling is on November 5th. Why not join us? To find out more about the conservation activities of PTO (People Together for Mt. Ogura) you can check this article or go direct to their homepage. There is also a very nice bilingual book of haiku and tanka available the proceeds of which all go to supporting PTO’s work on the mountain and you can read about that here: One Hundred Poets on Mount Ogura, One Poem Each.