It was a beautiful Saturday, and for once I got up early (ish) and set off up the mountain. My plan had been to go up to the temple on the Rokko traverse turn right and head for Takarazuka. I had thought I would make it as far as the temple that marks the real trail head above Takarazuka.
The ride up was good, steady and comfortable. The start of the run was brilliant. The weather was good, the scenery stunning and the trail was littered with multicolored maple leaves making for a richly colored carpet underfoot.
I continued to make reasonable progress until I was well above the golf course and then things began to get hard. By the time I had reached the temple I was tired but smiling.
I then ventured down the Rokko traverse. I was expecting it to be like the trail to Arima, which is for the most part very runnable. The trail to Takarazuka is mixed. There are some beautiful runnable sections but they are linked by some extensive, very steep, loose sections with 'fixed' ropes and chains in place to make the descent easier, as well as some road sections and some pretty steep steps.
Just short of 7 miles after leaving the Sumiyoshi trailhead I came across a long set of steep steps down to another road section. I came to the conclusion that if I was to venture down those steps I would almost certainly not be able to bring myself to turn round and scramble back to the top of Rokko Mountain. The thought of carrying on and getting the train home would undoubtedly overcome me. So I stopped turned and headed back up the hill from there.
I filled my bottle at the vending machine and drank some much needed hot chocolate at the cafe just below the summit of Rokko and then headed down towards Sumiyoshi. The run down was fun, I took the west side route and opted for the singletrack path without a bridge back towards the pond. 13.5 miles and about 4500' of ascent later I got back to my bike. It was cold in the shade and the bike computer was reading 5C.
A great day out but if I am going to stand an chance in this summers exploits, let alone the January run, I need to be quicker, lighter, and capable of going much much further.
For those that like maps and numbers have a look here