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.