One Man Walking

2008-05-03 Patience is a virtue

May 3rd, 2008 · 2 Comments

I know that for a long distance hiker, or really anyone over the age of 8, I am a pretty impatient person. So you’ll be surprised to find out that since I put my bag down shortly before 2pm I haven’t picked it back up again despite being within 7km of the summit of Ishizuchi Mountain, the highest in western Japan.

The day started in mist but as I stepped out from under the temple roof I could see the clouds were thin and the peaks around me were above them. Over the next few kilometers they dissipated and I was left walking the road on a glorious sunny day. I saw Tetsuya pass me on the bus and wave. It sure looked like an easy way to travel and all the motorbikes passing me make me think of faster times. But I’m trying not to hurry.
dawdling      Takashi-san 
A cyclist in full racing lycra shot by and I waved hello. He circled back and the conversation went like this. In Japanese.
Do you understand Japanese?
A little
In three kilometers ???????????
Three kilometers understood. I’m sorry I don’t understand
Three kilometers. Teatime?
 Confused look from me
Guard rail” (he said that in English)
Ahhhh” more confused looks
ok, bye

If you know what that means you’re doing better than I was. But it became clear when 3km later I saw his bike against the guard rail and he came out to meet me offering cold cans of beer and coffee. Takashi-san had ridden from his home in Matsuyama to his holiday home in the valley east of Ishizuchi ahead of his wife and three children who would soon be coming by car. He’s a triathloner (triathelete?) and had run a marathon before so he sympathises with physical exertion. See, I’m learning quite a bit.

Soon the valley became narrower and I entered the Omogo Gorge. After some confusing times trying to establish where the hiking track was, and explaining that yes a bus is easier but I want to walk, I found myself staring at a near vertical stone staircase straight out of Indiana Jones. Twisted vines, a shrine halfway up it. The last guy I spoke to said 7 hours. The old me would have taken that as a challenge but today I am pretending to be smarter. In truth I’ll just try to beat that time tomorrow. I felt like a lemon so I went looking for a river that felt like a martini to dip myself in. Unfortunately dip was all I could do. It was freezing and I’ve no need to go burning calories just keeping warm. So I washed my clothes and lay on the rocks for a while. Composed rhyming-couplets and listened to another Japanese lesson.

a river to dip in 

Tomorrow I make a dash for the summit. The earlier I can start the better because I’d love to see the clouds from above before they burn away.

Word of the day: ma-chi-mas = wait

(apologies to Douglas Adams for stealing his joke)

Distance today: 29km

hiking  ·  photo

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 denis // May 9, 2008 at 4:55 am

    I thought that invitation to join Takashi-san for tea in 3 km was pretty clear. I’m more impressed that you understood the words ‘guard rail’, even in English.
    In the past you have not understood this term well
    in either American
    or Norwegian

  • 2 Peter // May 9, 2008 at 5:39 am

    Ha ha ha (at dad’s).
    Yeah, I thought “Three kilometers. Teatime?” was clear but then allowed for the chance it meant “By the time you reach the guard rail it will be dinner time, which comes with night time shortly before bedtime, so you should be heading back soon.”.

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