Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 5 - Hike of Doom / Kegon Falls

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Saturday, June 20th, 2009. 5:23pm Japan Time.

This morning I woke up early to my surprise. My entire body was telling me what it thought of all the walking I had been doing, but my leg didn't hurt . . . yet? I did stretches, happy to have more space to do them, and showered because the Onsen made a mess of my hair! Perhaps I will use that shower cap tonight. :}

After a delightful breakfast that mirrored the dinner from the night before (SO GOOD! Eggs any way you requested, ham, a pineapple shaped like a fish, and so on!), we went out and caught the bus to Akechidaira, where we got off. Unfortunately, even though we rode up the gondola to see the sights, there was too much mist. And, even though my leg was on the mend and I knew I should rest it, we read in our book that there was only a 60 minute hike, so I said I could handle that. I should have listened when the woman told us it was 3 hours.

The hike is a big mistake. Unless you really love hiking, don't do it. :} There were a few pretty views, but DANG, I don't remember ever in my life using a hiking trail that dangerous. It was narrow with lots of slippery edges, and you have to use a lot of roots to climb up, which is confusing because there are many dead roots on the trail that will fall out if you climb on them. :o It is incredibly steep, and even where there are stairs on the way down, the steps are HUGE and broken. If you're horrified of spiders, you definitely can't go here. They're everywhere. All of that being said, if I had not already been sore and my leg already injured, I may have enjoyed it more. The scariest part wasn't really all of that (even though I'm a very clumsy person and had some serious close calls many times along the way; no longer surprised we didn't see anyone else eager to take it!). The scary part was when we got lost. All of the signs are in Japanese only, and there are several places where the trail branches off into other trails that had nothing to do with our end destination. Worst of all, the path that we're told to take on our map is now roped off, hence the short trip turning into a 3-hour long one. :( If my leg hadn't been specifically getting worse going down stairs and downhill, this would have been fine, though, because where we had to get ourselves back on track was a better stretch of trail. The first 1.5km were HORRIBLE, but everything else was perfectly reasonable, by my standards. We ended up probably going 5 or 6km total by the time we reached a cemetery at the end of the trail. I jokingly said to Terinati that those were the people who hadn't survived the nasty journey. ;}

All in all, other than wasting more time than intended on the trail (we missed a boat ride at the end of the day :( ), I was proud of us for surviving it. My leg is not as bad as it was the previous days, but I wish I hadn't pushed it so hard. Hopefully the trip to our next destination tomorrow will give it time to heal. After sitting for a while around Lake Chuzenji, my leg did feel better (so its recovering faster than it was! Yay!), and we walked around the shops on the way to view Keigon Falls and found a cheap place that was virtually empty right across from the viewing area! Don't be deterred by reasonable prices! The soba and mushroom noodle dish I had there was very filling and delicious, and the nice woman gave us a sweet treat to eat for dessert. I also found some gifts to take come to a few of my co-workers once I return also. :) So, it was definitely a good find. I wish I could tell you the place's name, but we didn't even get a receipt from there so I have no idea what it was called. Just look for the woman who isn't dying to get you inside her shop!

The Keigon Falls were beautiful and made me feel better about the horrible hike. :} It is a fun place, especially since there were Japanese tourists all around, smiling and having a good time. I felt less out of place than I had in Tokyo, and we got a nice man to take our picture for us. :) It was tempting to get souvenirs, like a bell that sounded like the crying dragon we heard in the Toshogu temple yesterday, but we restrained ourselves. After all, I already have a tiny Nemuri Neko. :}

We had wanted to go for a boat tour of the lake and see another waterfall, but after having some fantastic ice cream up the street from there, we were too late and the last boat ride was just returning, so we headed home instead.

To our surprise, as we approached the hotel there were several cars now parked outside! :o Since the only other person staying in the hotel with us had left this morning, we were hoping to have it to ourselves so that we could secure the Onsen after dinner, but we'll see what happens. :} However, dinner will be more interesting with other people filling up the other tables for which places have not yet been set since we arrived, and I'm also glad because I think the inn definitely deserves the busienss.

Speaking of dinner, there's about fifteen minutes until it starts. I think I'm going to pack up a few things for tomorrow and get ready to head down. Talk another day! :)

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