The day started rainy. Very rainy. Despite Brians warning I had left my clothes out to dry which were soaked again of course. Oh well..
I wasted time till nearly 10am when the rain eased off, then ran out and bought an umbrella. Of course as soon as I stepped out of the shop the rain stopped, proving once again that you don’t need an umbrella to keep the rain off you, but rather, to stop the rain. I grabbed some breakfast at a french bakery and a much needed cup of coffee, then headed off to the castle.
The castle was pretty neat, and contains an old gun museum. The guns were collected by somebody local and then donated to Matsumoto city, they are all period-weapons of the castle. The castle was already built with guns in mind, containing both arrow slits as well as gun ports. Unfortunately there was very little else on display, but still, it’s well worth a visit.
As the weather had improved I decided to go for a ride-out, having already decided to stay another night at the Backpackers. So sans luggage I took off and headed up into the mountains where, of course, the rain started again. The road itself was great, but there was a fair bit of traffic on it which was a bit annoying. The river down in the ravine had several dams across it, bringing it up closer to the road level after each dam.
Eventually I turned off onto a side-road, which was supposed to go up a pass at over 2000m. But, as so often around here, eventually the road was blocked and not allowed to continue. This time there was a little guard hut to stop people. Apparently to get up to the pass I had to take a bus, but the last bus had already left. No amount of pleading would let them let me through. Bah!
On the upside there was a short hiking trail to a waterfall, and even in the pouring rain it was well worth the hike. Eventually I came to a triple-waterfall which was very impressive, especially with all the rain.
I checked with the road-guards about another pass, and they assured me the road was open. So I headed that way, hoping to be able to do a loop back to Matsumoto instead of retracing my route. The road looked a bit ominous though, looking a little bit neglected with some grass growing in cracks and covered in leaves and twigs from the recent storms. Turning a corner, I came across a whole horde of monkeys, which scampered off the road and into the trees, screeching at me for having disturbed them. Seems it’s been a while since a car last came this way…
My concerns proved right – shortly after the pass, the road was blocked by a chain. Gah!!! By now the rain was coming down in buckets again, so after a brief thought I decided against doing a different, longer loop back and instead plotted a route to the nearest onsen as I was soaked to the skin by now despite wearing my “waterproofs”. An absolute delight to sink into the hot water!!
From the onsen I headed back the way I’d come, again, lots of traffic so not very enjoyable. Once I cleared out of the mountains, the rain also let up and on the far side of the plain the sun was even striking some mountains! So I replotted to head to the far mountains for a bit of sunny riding, but just as I started getting close the wind picked up and very black ominous-looking clouds closed in. I also happened to be quite close to my hostel, so I called it quits for the day, remembering the cold beer I had left in the fridge.
Great day despite the rain! Now to find some dinner and then decide where to go tomorrow..