Today was the day that I was most worried about. Off-road hiking for the first time and 800 meter ascent.
The day started off with another lovely, thoughtful hand-drawn map from my favorite henro so far, Eiko. She laughed at my stupid attempts at humor, and was so patient with my pathetic Japanese skills.
It threatened to rain all day, but nothing more than a light mist ever appeared. The last few days I’ve felt a bit dizzy, especially in the morning. Of course, I immediately think, stroke? Sudden vertigo that will cause me to fall off a cliff? But I somehow realized the cause: not enough caffeine.
After a few hours of gentle climbing I encountered this adorable rest hut, complete with a clock, thermometer, and guest book.
At a later hut I briefly met this guy. If you look closely you will see that he’s carrying his gear on a collapsible luggage carrier. I think he must roll his gear along whenever he’s on a road stretch (which is the majority of the route, actually).
I made it to my final destination around 1pm. The journey was really not that bad, not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.
At Kuma Kogen I ran into the doll festival (see Facebook for photos) and then visited my first temple!