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Haruna Sunrise
Sunrise over Haruna

I was dying for an interlude between projects, so we booked two nights in the mountains of Gunma to relax. As it turned out, it wasn't very relaxing at all for various reasons.

We started out after lunchtime on Thursday and missed the last bus to Haruna from the Takasaki train station. Tod was in tears as I was trying to stay calm and relatively positive. Fortunately we found a bus that got us about halfway along the 60 minute trip and the hotel rescued us at the terminal in Muroda. Thank you, Agatsuma Sou staff!

Once we were there, it was refreshing to breathe the fresh air and see perfectly blue skies, freshly rain-sprung mushrooms, flitting butterflies and gorgeous green trees. Haruna was once a very large volcano which has gone through several cycles of erupting and reforming itself. Today it has both a crescent-shaped caldera lake and a new cone. It's awesomely picturesque.

Stopping to smell the flowers

We filled our days with a lot of activity. On Friday, we circumnavigated the lake on foot, took a kitchy tourist lake cruise, rode the ropeway to the top of Haruna and hiked around the peak a little, rented a rowboat for half an hour so I could work my upper body after our long walk and simultaneously enjoy a beer on the lake, took a lot of baths and ate too much.

Saturday hiking route from hotel to park

On Saturday after breakfast, we decided to check out the exposed rocks on the mountain near our hotel. The cartoon map we'd picked up at the tourist center said it was about a 20 minute hike. Seemed reasonable, even with a migraine messing up my balance and vision. It was a pretty simple walk up through the forest to the rocks. The view over the lake was lovely and once there we opted to continue hiking - only another 800 meters to the next spot on the map. Doable. When we looked more carefully at our tourist map later, that spot, Kamon-ga-take, is the tallest mountain in the area.

Mountain hiking with migraine. What am I thinking?

Three hours later after several near misses on the trail, a bit of short temperage, and some mountain peak yoga, we slid our way out of the well-blazed, excessively steep, muddy, short but seldom used side trail that lead to a park we'd visited the day before. We washed out hands and feet, Tod rescued a butterfly from the museum/atelier, and we went off to have lunch. Only my head hurt so much that I couldn't eat. So we collected out bags, got an ice cream and set back to Tokyo on the bus we'd missed on Thursday.

We'll be back to Haruna when the lake freezes over and the ice-karting season starts.

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