The night was really cold. I was freezing. I put on my warm underwear and put my down jacket on top of my sleeping bag, but it was still really cold!
I got up. Packed my stuff. Didn’t really have breakfast except of a nut bar and went on the trail again.
The morning was foggy and damp. As I was quite high up in the mountains it was also a bit chilly.
I continued on the trail and came to the detour. There is a section of the Kumano Kodo where there was a landslide. So now there is a semi official detour.
After following a small stream I crossed a bridge and the trail went steeply uphill.
After climbing the mountain for a while I breached through the fog and clouds. The valley was filled with clouds again. It was a majestic sight. Only the mountain tops we’re sticking out.
I only noticed that I was over the pass a while after it.
The forest here was pleasant pine forest again.
After walking through a lot of forest I came to an old settlement, that was given up long ago. It was a great experience to see this historical place. The trees standing on top of this place were so big! The people here left a long time ago.
I continued on a forestry road and got to a shrine in the valley. There were some Inari statues. This shrine is also connected with boats. As in this region, high up in the mountains, deep inland, the boats were made in old Times. Up until today fishermen still come up here to pay a visit to the shrine.
It was here that I started with the spiritual aspect of my pilgrimage. I tried to feel the place more. And opened up to my surroundings and to feel more. I also got more clear about the purpose of my pilgrimage and what I have dedicated it.
Up until now I had a headache all the time. I was drinking so much water! And feeling quite dizzy too. So far most of the way I have been in quite a trace. It began to clear now.
It felt good though. I think it was the fresh mountain air and the nutritious and clear water that had a cleansing effect on me. Since ancient times the cleansing aspect was a vital aspect of the pilgrimage.
Starting into the next section I saw the first persons since the afternoon the day before. It was an old couple. They were really nice and I was so happy to see and talk to people. 🙂
After some more mountainous forest the landscape opened up a bit and there were small villages appearing.
In one was a little pond from a spring with wonderful autumn leaves above it. I filled up my water bottles at the fountain and went onto the last section.
I was approaching the innermost, most holy section of the pilgrimage area now: Hongu. I was quite in a hurry though to get to the big Torii before sunset, that I missed a few sights and experiences on the way. (Which is a pity.)
I was realising that I am in such a rush. Always the time seems not to be enough. So I miss some nice experiences. And then I waste it with other things that are more or less pointless, but more closer to society. Like being really busy at work, surfing the internet, organising things, getting stuff, etc. … It makes me sad, when I think about it. I could have easily stayed another day there.
The way down into the valley of Hongu was long and felt like it was never ending. It was still pretty long and the sun was setting fast.
I rushed through the main spiritual temple, waiting for the big Torii, hoping to catch it in the evening sun to get a nice picture of it, as I was so impressed by the pictures I have seen of it.
I finally arrived there well after the sun had already gone…
I got my last stamps and went to the visitor center to officially finish my pilgrimage.
When I received the stamp I was overwhelmed by emotions and wanted to cry.
There was still so much to do, so I asked the lady at the visitor office about where to have dinner. Like this I couldn’t truly enjoy the moment.
I charged my phone for a little while until they closed the visitor center.
Then I went to the cafe they advised me to go to in the visitor center. In the cafe it was super hot, so I sat outside. The guy from the cafe was a little bit worried about me and asked me if it was not too cold. I ate a really delicious tofu steak and asked them for rice again and again.
After my phone was quite charged I went to the local supermarket. As they were just closing (at 7) I just took threw some random candy and chocolate bars from the racks into my basket and got a insulation emergency blanket, as it was way too cold the day before. Just in case.
It was really cold and dark and I felt lost without a place to stay. At a place opposite the cafe I went to, was a toilet where I got water and sat on the bench to check my phone for messages from my friends. That made me feel a little better.
Before I had seen a nice spot by the river, which I wanted to go to now. I had to pass through a small area with trees to get there. As I wanted to enter I heard a loud scream as to warn me.
I was a bit scared but went through the area anyway. I built my tent in the dark and went to sleep. This night I also had many visitors. There were screams nearby. (may be from the monkeys?) and in the morning I had a special visitor. He made a funny sound and was pretty close to my tent. It sounded more like a happy animal. 🙂
This night was not cold at all. Yay.