It is a one and a half hour meander through rice fields, bamboo thickets and cedar groves from JR Wani station, near the shore of Lake Biwa, to the trailhead for Mt Gongen 権現山. I was blessed to have the route almost entirely to myself. The early morning air was crisp and I was worried how much colder it would be on the peak. There I expected expansive views looking east over Lake Biwa and west over the Kitayama mountains, which lie north of Kyoto.
There was no snow until after passing the trailhead, which led off a service road at the edge of a cedar forest. The snow grew thicker as the path steepened. Soon it was up to my knees. The extensive growths of cedar gave way to twisted and bare deciduous trees. The lack of foliage allowed sunshine to filter through, and this warmed me up.
After a total of 910 metres of elevation gain, I was at the top. Some very deep snow and a steep incline just under the summit made the final push a little tricky. I followed the ridge north and climbed the next peak, Mt Hokke, where I took a long rest to savour the expansive blue sky and stunning views while having lunch. I then–rather reluctantly–retraced my steps home.