Day Four: Tobe Town to Kuma Kogen

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.

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Patient and kind breakfast companion, Eiko
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Another hand-drawn map that came in handy on the trail!

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.

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Typical scenery on this section of the walk

After a few hours of gentle climbing I encountered this adorable rest hut, complete with a clock, thermometer, and guest book.

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An absolutely adorable rest hut
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A close-up of some of the rest hut’s amenities: a clock, elevation map, vase with flowers, umbrellas, guest book (with plastic cozy) and pens in a pen cup

And then eventually, the mountain path. img_1669

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).

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Pilgrim with luggage-cart backpack

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!

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