Kumano Kodo – Day 1

We woke up this morning (Thursday the 21st) to some dude at the hostel incessantly knocking on OUR door. Huh?  He needed tape to mail a letter and wasn’t sure what to do with his towel since he checking out before the front desk opened. Abe helped him out as best he could but we have no idea why he chose our room to ask? Luckily or was only 15 minutes before we intended on getting up.

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We ate our breakfast (grocery store purchases from yesterday) in the room and booked it to the train station to catch our many trains to eventually make it to Wakayama prefecture, where we’ll start the Kumano Kodo.

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We arrived by bus to the visitor center where we ate lunch (bento boxes from the train station) and bought some drinks before starting our journey.

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Abe bought a hat traditionally worn by pilgrims on the trail, and the vendor was so excited about him doing this he insisted on taking a picture for us.

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And then we began…

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The first 40 minutes were INTENSE climbing. Abe planned the trip, so it was just my assumption that this was more of a walk than a hike. I was wrong.

We had heard the first part of the trail was “steep”, but I didn’t realize how steep it was going to be– climbing up rocks and tree roots for at least half the hike. Looking back now, it makes sense. We were climbing up and over a mountain. The map says we went from an elevation of 82 meters to 336 meters over the distance of 1.6 kilometers. It was just a shocking start to our “walk” but the view was worth it.

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The first day was pretty hard for me. I had never been backpacking before so I had to figure how to adust for the weight up inclines. We had also left later than everyone else, so I was worried about getting to the minshuku before dark. My mind was on “just get there” mode, so we booked it. Not a lot of pictures were taken lol

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We hiked 8.71 miles in 5 hours and 15 minutes which is a pretty good pace for the terrain. Our itinerary (set up for us by a travel agent at the Kumano Kodo Travel Agency) estimated it would take 5-6 hours, so we fell right into that range.

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Here are distances in our AWESOME map! Seriously, the most useful tool. We hiked from Takijiri-oji to Chikatsuyu-oji and stayed at a minshuku in Chikatsuyu (Minshuku Nakano).

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(The front of the house and dining room)

It was basically their home that they retrofitted to accommodate 3 rooms and (the night we stayed) 7 travelers. They prepared a wonderful dinner for us (which I didn’t get a good picture of with my phone, but on anther camera. I’ll fill it in later) of local fish he caught himself, some sort of amazing sashimi, a soup that boiled in this cool pot over fire on the table and other stuffs.  Then he drove us to the local onsen (public bathhouse) at a nearby minshuku. It was my first trip to an onsen so I was nervous, but it ended up being pretty anti-climatic since I was the only one in there! We soaked for a half hour (which felt amazing for sore feet and shoulders!) In the silky feeling mineral water the area’s known for and then the manager of that minshuku drove us back. So kind!!!!! At this point, we were exhausted (having not hydrated adequately prior to our adventure) so I passed out at 8:30. But not before donning the robes (yukata) supplied for us!

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The next morning, we woke up early and ate breakfast (again, no picture. I’ll fill it in when we have access to all 3 cameras we took pictures on *rolls eyes*) of salmon, scrambled eggs, miso soup and other stuffs.

And onto day 2…

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