The Highest Peak of the Endless Mountain Range (Hatenashi): Hiyamizuyama (1262m)

I visited Hiyamizuyama, the highest peak of the Hatenashi (Endless) Mountain Range, 
located on the border between Nara and Wakayama. In ancient times, these
 mountains were frequented by ascetic monks. The seemingly endless 
mountain paths led to them being called the "Hatenashi (Endless)" mountain range. It
 truly felt like a deep and rewarding journey.
I left Osaka around noon on Saturday and arrived at the Niu Yamasemi Campground in Ryujin Village in the evening. 
This place has a hot spring, and the campsite is comfortably spacious with a clear stream flowing right next to the tent area. It was peaceful and enjoyable. There's also a unique human-powered ropeway called "Wild Monkey" that allows you to cross the river. As it was getting colder this weekend, many people were enjoying their time around a campfire.
The campground, named after the crested kingfisher bird, had a stuffed kingfisher on display in the hot spring lounge. It's considerably larger compared to the common kingfisher. I've never seen one in the mountains, but I'd love to someday.
The next morning, I left the campground at 6am and walked through the Higashidaira village. An elderly man from the village, who was walking his dog, warned me, "Heading to the Endless Mountains? Watch out for bears." As the name Kumano suggests, there are Kuma (bears) in the area, so one must be cautious. 

At the end of the village, there's a discreet trailhead. A little further up from there is a gate to keep wild animals out. From there, it's a steep climb through dense forests until you reach Wada's Forest.
Once past Wada's Forest, the view finally opens up, revealing mountain after mountain. I got tired of the endless forested path, so I occasionally walked on the parallel forest road to change the mood. About an hour and a half from Wada's Forest, I reached Andoyama. The relief I felt here probably gave the mountain its name, which means "relief mountain."
The endless stretch of mountains and the profound depth of the Kumano mountains left me in awe. I was also soothed by the sight of small thistles.
In the Hatenashi Mountain Range, there's a legend of a monster called "Ippon Datara" (One-Legged Tatar).  This one-legged creature with plate-like eyes is said to appear only on December 20th. This day is called "The Endless Twentieth Day" and is considered an unlucky day. The name "Hatenashi (Endless)" is believed to have originated from the legend where the monster ate travelers, leading to no one crossing the mountain pass on "The Endless Twentieth Day."
Upon reaching the summit, despite the clear Sunday weather, there was no one else around. It felt luxurious and blissful to enjoy the view all by ourselves while having lunch (even if it was just instant noodles). We only passed by one other person that day.
On the way down, I found bear droppings again, right in the middle of the pleasant mountain path, in two places. It felt as if the bear was marking its territory, asserting its presence. This year, after encountering them twice, including once on Mount Iide, I wonder if luck turns in one's favour(^^:
After a long descent, I returned to the village around 4 pm. As I was walking, I spotted a group of Asagimadara (Chestnut Tiger) butterflies fluttering in a resident's garden. It felt as if they were welcoming me back. These butterflies, with their tiny wings, travel over 1000km across the sea. It's truly amazing. I wonder where they'll fly to next.
This trip covered a distance of 21.6km, with an ascent of 1501m and a descent of 1493m. The autumn leaves in the Kinki region's mountains have just started to change, and the peak season seems to be still ahead.
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