Thursday, January 14, 2016

Kumano Kodo - The Steep Hike

(Day 6 - part1)

This day was to be the most difficult hike, so I wanted to get started as soon as the sun came up. Breakfast at 6:30 am.

The hike starts going up right away, through people's back yards and between houses, like the day before.

Next, was Waroda-ish Rock, which is kind of famous, I think.  I've seen this rock and  these three carvings on posters and pictures from the area.  I did stop and listen, but I only heard the wind blow, although maybe that was the divine conversation after all.

As I was walking ever upward, I saw a furry creature run into the hole of this rock.  I stayed still and waited for it to come out again, but no such luck.  When I turned around to look back at it, I saw this writing on the tree.  Someone else saw the furry creature here too, maybe another pilgrim.

As I climbed higher and higher, I continued to think about all those people who had walked this route before me.

Onward, I came to the Kusu no Kubo Lodging Remains. The tofu may or may not have convinced me to stay, but a hot bath after a long hike would get me every time.

I keep saying how this trail kept going up, and really it kept going up!  No flat, no downhill, just up.

It took me a full three hours to cover the first 5 kilometers of the day! Poet Fujiwara Teika was oh so right when he wrote "This route is very rough and difficult; it is impossible to describe precisely how tough it is."

As I continued from the Echinzen Toge Pass, it was up and down, with a lot of very steep places.  I could hear the tall trees creaking in the wind and I started thinking about trees falling.  I could see trees on the ground, sometimes crossing the trail, and these were very tall trees. It was a little scary.

Toilets came in unexpected places, but luckily they came along. This one was near a new-ish shrine.

I had my lunch at this little rest stop.  The wind was cold when I stopped to eat, so I didn't stop for long. Those green balls are onigiri (rice ball) covered with a mustard leaf.  It looks weird, but is really good.

I'll write about the rest of this day in another post.


  1. Love reading about your trip. Makes me want to travel and do some hiking...The freezing weather here in Illinois also contributes to the desire.

  2. Beautiful scenery, what a pilgrimage, thanks for sharing.

  3. Going up on such a steep trail for 5 kilometers is really a tough thing to do. Great pictures that you took on your way up.