Awoke to the calming sound of running water. Again breakfast was a lovely meal with such a large number in the dining area. It was good to sit at a regular table even if we were on a stool as the legs were a bit stiff from our walking. By 8:00 we were at the trailhead stamping our Pilgrim passports without having to walk anywhere!
The first section of 4.8kms would see us climb nearly 800m in elevation and was nicknamed ‘body breaking slope’. By the time we had completed it we had certainly given our lungs and legs a good test, that’s for sure! Not only was it sharply uphill but the rock steps had plenty of moss covering them and if you tried to walk on the edge of them the tree roots made it tricky too.
At one point when we stopped to catch our breathe just about everything was moss covered.
Anyway upwards on onwards we walked.
At one point we had a bit of an obstacle to clamber around
But after about two hours we finally reached Echizen-toge pass. I used the timer on the camera to give us photographic proof.
The trail continued in an up and down fashion for nearly two kilometres.
Occasionally we heard and saw small streams.
Eventually we came to a place with a shrine, remains of an old tea house and a shelter with seats so we took a well earnt break and ate a snack. A couple of other Aussies came along and we chatted with them. They had an update that parts of the next section of the trail had been damaged by storms so we walked along an adjoining forestry road for about a kilometre instead. We could see evidence of the storm damage as we walked.
Back on the real trail we had an uphill section walking through water
but the bonus was we also saw some waterfalls.
We also had an amazing view across the mountains not long after. Just love the layers of mountains.
As we continued across a couple of saddles the wind started to bite. So we were pretty pleased to come to Funami-maya tea house remains. It was a it late but another shelter with seats had been constructed here. The view down to Katsuura and the Pacific Ocean was sadly a bit unclear due to the misty, cloudy day.
Due to the cold wind we put jumpers on before eating our final bento pack of the Kumano Kodo.
Once finished we moved on ever downward. The signs on this part of the trail were now on stone pillars.
My knees were not appreciating it but the end of the steps came soon enough, so said the sign. The pile of walking sticks added weight to this line of thought.
However there turned out to eat about another half hour of steps down to the shrine complex at Nachisan!
Once there we looked around at the shrine complex. A number of the buildings were bright orange whilst others were plain wood.
Sadly we couldn’t find where to stamp our Pilgrim passports so we headed down to the triple level pagoda with views to the famous Nachi-no-Otaki waterfall.
From there it wasn’t really clear which way to go to our accommodation but by continuing down the road we finally made it not long before dinner.
Dinner was another delicious Japanese meal.
The good news was we sat at normal height tables with Colin and a couple of young Dutch guys who had walked past us earlier in the day on one of the steep step climbs. The dining room was full with many of the others we had met along the trail or at the various accommodations. So I’m sure they all felt the same sense of fulfilment we did and I’m pretty sure their legs and bodies were as tired as ours!
If you are reading this and thinking of doing the Kumano Kodo, yes, we would recommend doing it. Just make sure your knees and hips can stand up to the downhill parts and I’m sure your lungs will handle the uphill bits. As an old hiker once said to Karen and I, “you can do it, just so long as you want to and can put one foot in front of the other.”
(Your comments and questions are most welcome.)