Yesterday I hiked the Kumano Kodo from Takijri to Chikatsuyu. Well, almost. I took a bus from my lodgings to the trail head and was ready to tackle the trail. I expected a steep ascent and several hills as the guidebooks I read all mentioned this. What they DIDN’t mention is that the terrain is incredibly rough. Mud, rocks, exposed tree roots, narrow paths taking hairpin turns with sheer drop offs on one side. You couldn’t walk the trail, but had to pick your way through it and hoist yourself up and over. Oh, forgot to mention, %15 inclines. Here’s a sample:
Of the eight miles I hiked, roughly 80% was like this or worse. But there was also incredible beauty:
Now you knew I couldn’t let this blog be without a cat picture! This pretty one was sleeping on a porch just outside of Takahara. This is the only cat I saw outside of the cat cafe!
Okay, even young experienced hikers that I met were slowed down by the terrain. Well, this 66 year old carrying a heavy pack sure wasn’t breaking any speed records. I noticed that the sun was setting and I was still far away from my lodgings in Chikasatyu. Not worried yet.
Then the sun set and boy, did it ever get dark in the forest. Luckily, I had a small flashlight with me. But now, I’m going down hill and the terrain is actually rougher than it was going up. And it is pitch dark outside the area of my little flashlight. I’m really getting concerned now. My map tells me that I am still several miles away from my destination and I am going even slower due to exhaustion! Around 5:30, my phone rings. Thank you Cell Phone God! It is Leo from Oku Japan, who booked my lodgings wanting to know where I am. I told him I was still in the woods and still pretty far away. He said, “Keep walking, I will drive to the rest area and meet you on the trail.” And that’s exactly what he did. About 20 minutes later, I hear a faint voice calling my name. I call back and I see his flashlight. He guided me out of the woods, taking a short cut, where a car from my lodgings was waiting. If you want to know what an angel looks like, see below:
I intend to make sure that his employer knows how brave and kind he was to this weary traveler!