Day 2 – Totsukawa Onsen to Miura Guchi, 21.2km
Accommodation: Minshuku Mandokoro apartment, ¥5000 no meals
Breakfast was served from 7am but the owner had agreed to let me start from 6.45am as I was eager to get an early start on the day and I needed breakfast and the packed lunch they would give me because I didn’t have dinner included tonight. 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 this hotel, 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 very 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’s ascent but 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 because 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 worried about how steep it was going to be and how my knees were going to cope!
The initial descent was between a green rope fence that had been put up to help prevent landslides, but unfortunately, as soon as the fence stopped (about 10 minutes into the descent) there was a large landslide and no fence or rope or barrier and a decent 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 ever being so scared and wished I’d had experience of walking over landslides. 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 thought how on earth am I going to be able to get across. 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 thought about my options, I had two: 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, really scared, step by step, with my left hiking pole extended out long and my right pole short, then climbed down into the ditch, and up out of the ditch, around the tree and then it got even scarier the last few metres. My other concern was what if there were even more landslides on the way down and that I really had to turn around and go back… could I get over this again?
It took me a while to recompose when I did get across. There weren’t any more landslides and the descent after this was relatively quick and easy, 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 passing a small shop and onto Minshuku Mandokoro. I had booked last-minute so they told me they had a room for me but to bring my own dinner so I’d bought ramen yesterday at the Michi-no-eki. 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…
Kakizoe-san and a Chinese lady called Ting are also staying here and 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 this tiny village in a valley surrounded by mountains and it feels like we’re a million miles away from anywhere!