A 30 minute hike from the center of Kamiyama is the Amagoi Waterfall; the name translates to "We Pray for Rain." The villagers of the town used to visit the falls to send prayers to the heavens for a good rainfall that farming season.
Many people still visit Amagoi, taking in the spectacular sounds of the rushing water and the feeling of a powerful, natural wonder pouring down from several feet above them. However, my host is not like most people. She didn't want to pray for water that day, she wanted to tame it.
The day we were in town our host was leading a team building exercise up to the base of the falls and invited us to join. I agreed -- a hike up to the falls sounded fun and it was perfect hiking weather.
The hike up was tranquil. It was yet another moment to fall in love with Kamiyama. We followed a stone path carved into the side of the mountain, barely wide enough for two people side by side.
As the group ascended the trail there were signs (in Japanese) marking our way that indicated something big was waiting at the top. A member of the group translated one sign for me, which read "The Drop to Hell."
Despite the actual warning signs alluding to some kind of danger and calamity people have faced while on this hike, the natural wonder that darted the path kept me calm. The biggest hike I usually take on a normal day is to check the mail. So every step left me in awe of the undisturbed beauty of the mountain.
The 400 meter hike lead me to the base of a beautiful waterfall. I could write a whole post about the majesty and beauty one feels taking the trek. This post is about finding something else entirely unexpected at Amagoi Falls -- something I brought to the falls on my own.
Once we reached the base of Amagoi, our guide kept going. Indifferent to the treacherous climb I saw before me, unaware I was in disbelief and ready to turn back -- she invited me to follow her up. The whole time the group wasn't preparing for a hike UP TO the falls, they were preparing to go UP THE FALLS.
In that moment I was acutely aware I was at a crossroad -- a literal and figurative one -- a truly rare feeling. As that realization washed over me I was also making quick lists in my mind about whether I should do the climb or stay behind.
A strong question formed in my head -- When do we truly get to experience moments that make us feel 110% alive? Do I take the falls up, with no harness or railing, and build a memory that will last a lifetime? What other moments are like this one and how have I treated those? ... Do I have the courage to fall hopelessly in love with someone, with no safety net to catch my feelings if it doesn't work out? (Yes.) Would I gamble on myself and start a consulting business out of my home? (Yes again.)
I don't consider myself a risk taker or adrenaline junkie, but standing at the base of Amagoi I realized I'm definitely someone who lives in the moment -- even the frightful ones.
I chose to climb the falls. Only once did I think of turning back. Each step was exhilarating. After climbing up, and then down -- holding on to tree branches and rocky crevice, I landed back on my feet, caked with mud and moss. I had just dug my fingers into something I never thought I could wrap my arms around and I succeeded. I felt lighter and renewed, like I left something behind that I didn't need anymore.
The echo of that day still kicks up my heartbeat. In part because of the uniqueness of the experience, as well as the uniqueness I discovered in myself while making the climb.