Friday, 22 May 2015

Hurry Up Tom or You'll be Late - 19 May 2015

The rain turned torrential last night, and just as I thought I was all dry and snug in my tent, I brushed up against inner wall and noticed it was all wet. I turned my torch on to find water beginning to puddle up inside. It sent me into a bit of a panic. I deduced that it must have been the way I pegged out the outer fly on the right side, as the left side of the inner tent was dry as a bone.

So I donned my wet weather gear (not and easy feet in a small tent), opened the tent flap to be greeted by a wall of rain, and then I stood up and hit my head so hard on the roof that jutted out from the shrine I had camped next to that I was seeing stars.

I now have a huge lump on my head that is tender to touch

It was not a good start, and it just got worse. After a minute or so of recoiling in pain, I got enough of a grip on myself enough to get on with the task at hand. I managed to rearrange the fly in a way that I thought would be better. I then jumped back into the tent and got my wet weather gear off as quickly as possible as it was dripping wet. I waited a good fifteen minutes in the dark and then turned the light back on only to find that more water was coming through than ever. So out I went again, being very careful this time not to hit my head, and rearranged the fly a second time. This time I got it, fifteen minutes later the water had stopped. The problem was though, that I had brought in almost as much water via my wet weather gear as was already in the tent to begin with. So I now had to rummage through my bag and get my towel out and start trying to dry everything off. The whole ordeal took a over an hour, and then it took me ages to get to sleep as I was paranoid about leaks that never eventuated.

I awoke at 4:30am to a siren and then a voice on a loud speaker saying they were releasing water from the dam due to all the rain. Fortunately I was high enough not to have to worry about drowning, but unfortunately as hard as I tried I could not get back to sleep, so I got up extra early. The rain had slowed considerably but not stopped, thus I had to put on yet to be dried out wet weather gear and go about the task of packing up in the rain. It is the first time I have had to do it in the wet on this trip and let me tell you it isn’t fun. Trying to keep everything as dry as possible was a stressful task, and rolling up a sopping wet tent and then having to put it in my bag did not make me any happier.

See what I mean, absolutely drenched 
Goodbye sleeping spot, may I choose better next time!
The trail took me on roads around the town of Ibi. It was a bit dreary and wet for the first half of the day, but then the clouds retreated and the sun came out making me feel on top of the world:

From this....

...and this... this!
It was one of those days where I felt like Franklin in the book “Hurry up Franklin or You’ll be Late,” that is, I just kept getting distracted by things along the way.

Firstly I stopped at a convenience store where I bought lots of food to make up for the breakfast I had neglected to have on account of the rain. I ate two boxed lunches, half a litre of milk and two ice creams, then I sat around for another half hour as I struggled to move.

I forced myself to get a move on, but a few hundred metres down the road I came across a road station and decided to stop again. Often these have the internet for free, unfortunately this one did not, but as I was sitting there a guy who worked there came over and gave me lots of advice on the area. In the process mentioned they had a foot spa for free. Could someone on a long distance walk ask for anything more suitable? So I ended up sitting there for another half an hour dangling my legs in the nice warm water.

Exactly what I needed
My feet and legs felt great after the soak and I finally felt ready to get on with some serious walking. The trail took me along the highway for a bit, and then led up a small mountain with some stream crossings. As the sun had come out it was getting hot, and up the top I decided to take off my long pants and put shorts on. When I took off my boot this is what I found:

This is the first time on the trip I have found them on me. I must have picked them up from one of the steams I crossed. Three of them in total. I had heard that you are not meant to just rip them off as the wound bleeds more, so I lanced them:

The first two just fell off as soon as I jabbed them, but the last one was stubborn and I ended up ripping him off which left me bleeding a bit:

NOTE: Some later research revealed that you are not meant to lance them off as they vomit back into the wound and this can cause infection... ewww.

I continued on down into once again another farming plain where the roads were straight as far as the eye could see, and the crop of choice was wheat:

Perfect walking weather
Flat roads, nice weather, great views, I thought now I can finally get done some real walking for the day! I just had to use a toilet first. So I went into a temple the trail went passed, always a place you can find a toilet and refill you're water, no questions asked, but then noticed one of their information boards was in English, which got me interested and led me onto seeing all these other things the temple had to offer:

People had put toys at the base of the statue, leading me to believe that the temple was somehow related to children
Then there were thousands of these little statues too
Some had caps and/or clothes knitted for them
And others had butterflies

All these distractions had meant the day had gotten away from me, and at 5pm I found myself still kilometres away from where I had intended to end up for the day. I was tossing up in my head whether I should keep walking past sunset and try to get to Sekigahara, when I passed this prime sleeping spot:

A toilet, running water, benches, walls and a roof to shelter me from the wind that has been blowing all day
View from the other side

It is next to a railway, but trains usually stop around 11pm at night in Japan
It was too good a spot to pass up so I never made it to my intended destination for the day. Doesn't matter though, not like I'm on a particularly tight schedule or anything. I got settled, cooked my noodles and mixed in a packet of curry:

Trust me, it tasted better than it looks
An old guy walking his dog came around and chatted for half an hour. He has lived here his whole life, and remembers when there used to be no paved roads or cars for that matter, people had to walk everywhere. He told me he had never seen a foreigner in the area before, let alone one camping, but assured me my presence was fine and told me to take it easy. Forty five minutes or so later he came back with his grand daughter who was walking a sausage dog. He told me she had never met a foreigner before and wanted to meet me, but she was awfully nervous and barely spoke a word to me.

Afterwards I got set up in this nice cosy spot:

Luxury compared to what I endured last night
Tomorrow I pass through Sekigahara, where in 1600AD one of Japan's biggest battles was fought.

Distance 28.2km

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