Total distance walked: 590km
Total ascent: 23143 metres
Total descent: 23799 metres
Average Speed: 2km per hour (this includes all my rest times)
Looking at the map, I think I'm a bit over half way done, and expect to be finished in about three and a half weeks. After that I'm not exactly sure if I am going to keep walking, or have a more normal holiday for a while.
Here are some observations and thoughts about the trail so far:
- Camping out is easy once you develop an eye for good spots. I start keeping an eye out about an hour and a half before it gets dark, this usually gives enough time to be picky with a few before you find the right one. I've stopped worrying about getting told to leave in the middle of the night too, it's very unlikely it will happen in Japan as long as you set up somewhere out of the way, like a park rather than on, say, school grounds.
- You loose weight. I got to weight myself the other day and the scales showed 82.5kg. That means I'm down around 4kg since I started the trail.
- I definitely recommend getting trekking poles if you are thinking about doing this walk. I had never used them before and, quite arrogantly, scoffed at the idea of using them before the walk. But after seeing so many Japanese hikers using them, one day, about a week in I think, I picked up two sticks and decided to see what all the fuss was about. The walk instantly became easier and I bought some real ones once I got to a city that had a hiking store for under $100. What they do is distribute the physical burden of climbing mountains more evenly over your body, so instead of you legs and knees taking all the stress, your arms get in on the action and relieve some of the tension. You move faster, feel better at the end of the day, and don't end up with tree trunk legs and spaghetti stick arms at the end of the walk.
- You can drink directly out of the mountain streams. I've been regularly been getting my water from them and have not had any problems so far. My general rule is that if the stream villages and towns, then it is okay to be drunk untreated.
- Most of the days have been fun with the exception of a few. I get to wake up, exercise all day, see beautiful places and meet all kinds of interesting people. I feel I've gotten used to the solitary lifestyle, and I rarely feel lonely. Actually it hit me the other day that I only feel lonely when I get into cities and see groups of people socialising; I suddenly feel like I am missing out on something I guess, and I get that lonely twinge. The thing is though, I just keep on walking and the feeling soon passes like it was never there, so it's never been a problem.
- I wouldn't say I've come to any life changing revelations on the walk, but it has given me time to think about lots of things and get to know myself a bit better.
Tomorrow, in spite of rain being forecast, I set out again. I think I will be in Kyoto in about three weeks, and finished in maybe four. I'm going to treat myself to a fancy hotel room and a night on the town at the end of all this.