The longest day of the year, the summers solstice, or as PCT hikers call it “Hike Naked Day”. Thru-hikers would often be up in the high Sierras at this point where you don’t see roads or cars for hundreds of miles. I was crossing Muir Pass exactly a year ago. Today though I was a little closer to civilisation.
I woke in a dry tent but there was mist in the air so I went back to the lake for a look, again worth the extra boot leather. I had planned to take route 102 down a narrow valley but found something much better. The Oirase Scenic Trail. Touted as “long distance” it is 14km of quite well maintained path beside and over a wide but shallow river with occasional waterfalls and rapids. It was a really pleasant surprise and I’ll be writing to Chris to make sure he takes that route if he goes to Lake Towada. Being a weekend there were more people about. Walking clubs with their Leki poles and checked shirts. Guided tours following ladies waving flags and a few people there just walking by themselves. I got a lot of stares but everyone of them turned in smiles and nods when I said “konichiwa”.
When the trail ended I walked through the little town without noticing it and was out of food options. Then I saw a little stall with Fish-on-a-Stick and figured I should try everything. As it happened the fish is only on the stick while cooking. It is sold wrapped in a paper towel complete with scales, bones (cartilage?) and head. It was tricky but I managed to walk and de-bone the fish at the same time, it was really good fish and I bet it had some protein I’ve been missing.
Today I saw 9 people of European descent. They were all in cars, whizzing about doing their own things. This is worth noting because I’ve not seen any non-Japanese people since Nagano more than two weeks ago. I guess Oirase is, quite rightly, mentioned in a few guidebooks.
Another thing I haven’t seen for a while is my stove. I’ve been eating in ramen shops (or houses) or skipping dinner since Kiso Valley in May. It was almost an honour thing to prove I didn’t need it. But since I have it and pot noodles were on sale I decided to cook (boil some water) for a change.
Word of the day: na-tsu = summer
Distance today: 45.5 km