Friday, 29 May 2015

Presents, Rivers and a Sinister Cat - 25th May 2015

After finally getting to sleep in spite of the incredible itchiness of the bug bites I had received yesterday, I was awoken around 2am by the sound of a man and woman's voice, coming closer and closer towards my tent, until they actually realised there was a tent there and then retreated to the bleachers where they continued their conversation. I tried to sleep but could hear them discussing all manner of things couples tend to discuss at 2am in the dark on a sport field. I don't know how serious he was, but at one point the guy suggested that they go and find out who was in the tent. "Oh god, please don't" I thought. Luckily the girl had some sense and said she was too scared. And she was right to be, I would have been scary if they had come inquiring as to whom I was at 2:30 in the morning. They left after an hour or so and I was free to get back to sleep, but was up at 5am, worried that some soccer team would wander in and I would be caught in the middle of their practice session.

This scenario did not eventuate, but there were people walking their dogs and jogging etc. Some people seem totally bewildered by my presence, slack jawed and unable to reply when I say good morning to them, but others seem completely unfazed and stop to have a chat. One lady walking her two dogs did just this, asking me where I was from and telling me about how she went to Australia thirty years ago on her honeymoon. She said goodbye to me, then twenty minutes later came back in her car to give me these presents:

Hand made rice snacks (still warm), some sort of maple candy, and two bags of green tea grown in the area
I was very thankful. The tea turned out to be a little heavy so I thought I better get using it straight away, and mixed it into my water bladder right then and there:

I know the colour is not the most appetising colour but it tastes good enough

The rest of the day turned out to be pretty darn good. Lots to see and the weather was perfect:

These may have been the tea fields where the tea came from

After half a day spent god knows where, I finally met up again with the trail just a few hundred metres up the road from where I camped

It took me down into a small river valley...

...and then spat me out at the base of Mt Nydogatake

It actually almost felt like I was in the "wilderness" for the first time in a while on this walk

It was turning out to be a really nice day

Tsubaki Grand Shrine. There was a procession of monks who went through but thought it would be rude to just start snapping photos of them no matter how much I wanted to

Another decimated mountain, at it's bottom was a concrete factory. Concrete is big business in Japan, it's absolutely everywhere

Down some mountain roads outside a village I can't quite recall the name of

I met this guy and his coworker as I was walking into the village whose name I forget. Two very nice men, who had a bunch of question about my trip, and offered me a lift into town, which I had to refuse.

The Shin-Meishin Expressway in the distance

That loomed closer...

...until I was right under it

It made me wonder how many people drive over this bridge but think nothing of the construction that went into it. I know I have driven over hundreds of similar bridges in my life and not thought about one of them. It is only when you see them from the underside does it hit you how much planning and construction goes into them. They were huge, probably fifty metres or so off the ground.

The irony was not lost on me that I was admiring the most unnatural of things on a nature walk, but they truly were stunning to see up close
The trail then took me up a mountain road that follows a river up and over Mt Mitsugo. It was hot and I'd been walking up hill when I saw this perfect looking pool of water and just couldn't walk past it without having a swim

So I left my bag next to the road and climbed down this embankment...

...and took the plunge.

I only spent about ten minutes in there because it was freezing cold, but I felt absolutely grand afterwards

And it was hot enough to just lay in the sun to dry off

After that interval I got back to some walking, mostly along roads for the rest of the day
And past some sheep, freshly sheared

The Japanese sound for sheep is "Mee Mee" instead of "Baa Baa."

Towards the end of the day the trail took me under Highway 1...

...past a forgotten shrine that was right under it

And down some dubious trails. The leaves made it quite slippery. Would not want to be on this section in the wet

By 5pm I had run out of food and was contemplating whether I should catch a bus into a larger town so I could get some food, then I chanced upon this place

It looked like the shop was past its heyday, with the shelves being almost bare, the lady who came out to serve me was very apologetic about the state of affairs

They had enough though to keep me going for another day

And she gave me these two home made An Pan (sweet bean bread) for free to make up for it
Around 6pm I came across this abandoned shrine half way up Mt Nasugahara that I seriously considered sleeping in.
But I didn't get a good feeling from the place, and this sinister cat was hanging around, just staring at me

So I moved just down the road to a completely unremarkable spot in the woods, one that took me 20 minutes to clear away everything that could potentially poke a hole through the floor of my tent. I then cooked my noodles and added a packet of curry and ate it up. It was surprisingly good after a full days walking. And now, with nothing else to do, I'm going to go to bed.

Distance: 34.4km

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