Day 2 – Totsukawa Onsen to Miura Guchi, 21.2km
Accommodation: Minshuku Mandokoro apartment, ¥5000 no meals
Breakfast is served at 7am but the owner agreed to let me start from 6.45am as I was eager to get an early start, hoping every minute would count towards me beating the bus 😉 I walked the 2km back to where I’d left the trail yesterday near the suspension bridge, walked through a small tunnel and passed the enormous Subaru-no-Sato Onsen hotel. I enjoyed where I stayed last night and the food and company was great but the location of this hotel can’t be beat, it’s directly on the trail! From here, it was 7.3km of road walking to the trailhead, so I plugged in my earphones and enjoyed the cool early morning breeze. The road was quiet possibly because it’s a Sunday and although there was no footpath for most of it, it was safe enough.
The climb wasn’t as steep as yesterday but it was still steep and the trail was getting narrower and narrower with a steep drop on one side. There were a few sections with rope attached but to be honest if you grabbed onto the rope you’d be in more trouble than if you didn’t, it was so slack! It took three hours to get to the top where there was a hut, toilet, map and great view. I don’t know how, but Kakizoe-san was sitting eating lunch admiring the view when I arrived but I never saw the bus pass me and I never saw anyone else on the climb up, I’m starting to think he’s a ghost. We ate lunch together then I started on the descent, slightly worried about how steep it was going to be and how my knees would cope!
The initial descent was between a green rope fence, but then about 10 minutes into the descent there was a large landslide, possibly a new one as there was no fence/rope/barrier and a terrifying fall down a 1060m mountain if you took a wrong step. The pics are below and it might not look like much in the photos but I honestly don’t remember being so scared! I told myself it would be ok, that I would try to be as careful as possible, then I took the first few steps and froze. There’s a ditch that you can’t see from looking at either picture but I saw it after my first few steps and wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to climb down and up over the ditch, then keep my footing on the loose scree on the crazy angle. When I froze, I didn’t have enough room to turn around and walk back, so I reversed back to the ‘safe’ spot and tried desperately not to have a panic attack as it wasn’t going to help me get across! I had two options: either make it across or walk back 5.5 hours to my starting point. I honestly thought about turning back but that would’ve meant cancelling the rest of the trip because there’s no public transport to where I was supposed to be staying tonight. I started again, step by step, with my left hiking pole extended out long and my right pole short, then climbed down into the ditch, up the other side, around the tree stump, and across the last few metres. My new concern was what if there were more landslides, even worse than this one, could I get over this again if I had to turn back? Think positive thoughts…
It took me a while to recompose. There weren’t any more landslides and the remaining descent was quick, it was less than two hours from the top to the suspension bridge at the bottom. I saw another four-lined snake near the bottom, it’s head was sticking out further than in this pic and I was quite close to the barrier when I noticed it!
After crossing the suspension bridge into Miura, I made my way through the small village, past the village shop and onto Minshuku Mandokoro. I had booked last-minute so they told me they had a room but to bring my own dinner, so I had packed ramen. Kakizoe-san and a Chinese lady called Ting are also staying here. I mentioned the landslide to the owner’s son and he told me tomorrow’s section also has narrow parts with a cliff on one side and rock-face on the other, but just to take it one step at a time…
Just before bed I was out admiring the stars and satellite-spotting with Kakizoe-san who said he’d never seen one before. There’s no light pollution here in the mountains and it feels like we’re a million miles away from anywhere!