Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Thou Shall Not Pass - 9th May 2015

9th May 2015

For most of the day I wasn't in the best mood. The weather was crap, cloudy with some rain, and the last two days had really taken a toll on my body. I had aches and pains everywhere, and I wanted nothing more than to sit down in a comfy chair, put my feet up and do nothing all day. As my food supply was dwindling though, this was not an option unless I wanted to go without dinner. To make matters worse I hadn't looked at the map properly the day before, and I soon realised the nearest town with a store, Asuke, was a considerable distance away, 36kms to be precise. 

I will let the pictures tell the first half of the day:

The trail was flat and followed an offshoot of the Toyokawa river for a while
Someone, presumably with OCD, had arranged these rocks along the path... 
...for several kilometres...
I, very hesitantly, ended up having to eat the squid I bought the other day, probably burning as many calories chewing on the darn thing as I took in eating it 
I then went past this man made fly fishing pond

Up the overgrown path on Mt Hazugatake

And down the other side...

On the way down from Mt Hazugatake around 2pm, it started raining, not too hard but enough that I had to put my wet weather gear on. The problem was it was still quite warm and I was sweating underneath it, so I just got wet from the inside out. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I also was almost out of food and water, and I realised I still had another 20km along trails until I got to the store at Atsuke. So in order to avoid being completely miserable, I made an executive decision to abandon the trail and take the road to Atsuke. It was considerably shorter and it went past a stream so I got to refill my water and not die of thirst. Easy choice really. I told myself before setting off on this walk that I shouldn't take task of doing the whole trail too seriously, and so if I got faced with a situation in which I needed take a short cut in order to prevent me from being completely miserable, I would feel okay with doing so. So I took the easy way to Asuke:

On this...
...instead of something like this
As I came to a section with a village, I pulled out my GPS to check how far I had left to the until the convenience store. I was hungry and grumpy, and totally immersed in the task of figuring out exactly how far I had to go, when suddenly something big and white moved right in front of me, so unexpectedly that  I literally took a leap back in fright. This is what I saw:

Someone had tied their goat to this grassy slope so it could eat I guess
I immediately burst out in laughter at my scaredy-cat reaction to a goat tied to a side walk in rural Japan, whilst it just looked at me for a moment with that blank expression farm animals often give, let out a short bleat and then turn its head and proceeded eating again. It got more absurd though. I went to give it a pat, and even managed to get my hand on its head, when it turned around and head butted me in the thigh almost knocking me over. I chalked it up to one of those more bizzare experiences I have had on the trail, and gave it a wide berth as I went around it.

After another hour or so of walking I finally got to Asuke. It looked like quite a tourist town, plenty of temples and stores selling souvenirs, but I was only interested in one thing: FOOD. I got to the convenience store and absolutely pigged out on food. A bento box, tako-yaki, fried chicken milk, pastries, I had it all. There was also a supermarket a little ways down the street I could resupply at too.

After that pig out, I wandered down the main street which the trail followed looking for a spot to set up camp. There were a few potential spots I saw to set up my tent, but none of them really appealed to me. I said to myself I should be ambitious and find a better spot, because hey, it’s worked in the past. Big mistake. With great hope I kept walking, out the other side of Asuke, following the aptly named Asuke river:

But just as it was getting dark, still not having found a spot, I was led into a forest that was not marked on my GPS. I had to get out my torch to see the trail, which kept ascended and descended sharply, often with a sheer drop on one side. It was long and nerve wracking, and the claustrophobic feeling moving through a forest at night did not help one bit:

It felt like being in a scene from the Blair Witch Project

By the time I got out I was a sweaty, dishevelled mess, desperate to find somewhere, anywhere, to set my tent up. Luckily, a hundred metres or so down the road I found a small space between some benches next to a river big enough to accommodate me. I just have to remember to go left instead of right if I get out of my tent to go to the toilet in the middle of the night because there is a sheer drop into the river right beside me.

I just looked at my GPS and it says I did just over 40km today, my longest distance yet. At least I don't have to cook dinner tonight, I'm still full from the pig out I had at the convenience store. So I'm going straight to bed.

Distance: 40.4km

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