Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A Hard Day – 17th April 2015

Luckily the monkey attack never eventuated. So I awoke this morning to the noise of footsteps passing my tent at 5am. Some very keen hikers were out to enjoy Mt Takao before the crowds arrived. I packed up my stuff, which took about as long as the day before, over and hour, and got on my way.

By 7am the sun was shining and it was a nice 19c. I cooked some noodles half way up Mt Takao and refilled my water. Here are some photos:

In regards to the level of signage telling you where to go I was a bit disappointed. There were many places where there was a fork in the track and no clear signs for the Tokai Shizen Hodo. I took maybe three wrong turns and had to back track. So with this said, I suggest taking a good map at least if you want to do this section without a hassle.

Mount Takao turned into Mount Shiro without much decent, where at the top I got some really good views:

The decent from Mt Shiro was difficult for my untrained jelly legs. My two big toes began to hurt like hell, and when I took my boots off to inspect them I noticed there were two blisters under the nails. Nothing much I could do about it so I kept descending and the pain kept getting worse. It was really a very steep incline on the way down and whenever I would bump my boot on something it felt like someone was sticking a nail in my foot.

When I finally limped my way down to the bottom I was greeted by a valley with a small town in it by the name of Chigira. There was a shop with an old man sitting there who I bought a coke off and chatted with for a while. He had an alarm rigged up so whenever a hiker would come down from the mountain he would come out of his house to serve them. He proudly showed me a photo of him at the shop with Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, and warned me about getting leeches on the trail.  I complained about my toes hurting and he suggested that I try loosening my laces. I felt pretty stupid for not thinking of it before and loosened them up and they felt better almost instantly.
Me at the bottom

Nice shop

When I got into town the pain had died down somewhat, which was a huge relief. I was looking for somewhere to eat but instead found a bathhouse. One of my favourite things about Japan is that there are hot springs and bathhouses everywhere, making it very convenient to keep up hygiene standards on the trail. I had not washed in four days since Bali so I felt much better after my shower and bath.

I made the mistake of thinking there would be another place to buy food on the other side of the river, but there was nowhere to be found except a café that sold cake. I still had one more mountain to climb, and by looking at my map the only option was to head back into town a kilometre or two to buy food. I hate back tracking so I pressed on. Big mistake.

The climb up Mt Arashii was really steep and made extra hard because I had not eaten properly. I got to the top and just collapsed on the wooden seating areas.

There were great views of the area though:

I eventually made it down to the town of Suwarashii and headed straight for the nearest convenience store where I purchased two large meals and a whole bunch of snacks. To the staff’s surprise I ate it all up. I then stocked up for the next section of the trail on instant noodles and pre-cooked hard boiled eggs. I was planning to find a nice quiet spot in the town to set up my tent but nothing caught my eye. So I decided to just keep walking the trail until I found somewhere suitable.

In hindsight starting Mt Sekirozan late in the day in the hope of finding somewhere was not the best idea. I was tired and it was beginning to get dark. A guy at the convenience store told me that there was a temple near the base, which I might be able to camp at. Upon arrival I could see that it would have been the perfect spot except for the houses around it. From here I kept climbing at the trail which followed the path of a small stream.

It was completely dark by the time I eventually found a spot. There was a flat space right next to the trail that was big enough to fit my tent.  It was not a good spot, but I was too tired and sore to care. The day had been longer and much harder than I expected and I just need to stop walking. So I set up my tent, had my instant noodles, and tried to sleep in spite of the pain in my legs and all the animals moving around throughout the night.

Distance: 19.2km

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