Day 3, Susami to Kushimoto, 43km
Accommodation: Minshuku Sakaji, ¥4,000 including breakfast, 0735-62-1117
I left the minshuku in Susami just after sunrise knowing I had a long day ahead. Luckily the road was quiet as the path was briefly along route 42 with no footpath and dangerous curves. The first forest section of the morning was up Umakorobi-zaka slope and the entrance was weirdly through the middle of a concrete factory. It started off a little sketchy with a rickety old plank of wood and ropes around a small cliff then soon after, all waymarks disappeared and the grass got longer until I reached a viewpoint with a buddha statue overlooking the sea.
After this first forest path, the Ohechi joined route 42 briefly before veering off again onto a short forest section leading to the Nagai-zaka slope.
Then the Nagai-zaka slope started for real with a short steep climb then 2.5km of walking along a tree-covered ridge with occasional sea views.
The trail descended back to a footpath beside Route 42 then kept leaving the highway for short sections along smaller roads by the sea. I passed the Susami michi no eki and decided to have a quick break for lunch. It was packed with people but I was able to buy lunch and sit down out of the sun. After lunch, the trail was along a few small roads briefly then joined Route 42 again with no footpath and really dangerous curves. At a ramen shack by the sea, the map said to join the beach and walk around the point by the sea, instead of the road. I went into the ramen shack to confirm if this was correct and they said the easiest thing would be to walk along the highway but it had already been quite scary along the highway so I decided to give the beach a chance. Sand, rocks, rock pools… then a great divide and I didn’t fancy a swim in all of my hiking gear! Begrudgingly, I walked back past the ramen shack and to the road and started along the scary highway again with no footpath. I would not recommend this at all.
The afternoon was a mixture of highway walking and many short forest sections but the highway was busy and scary and really not enjoyable. Shortly before Kushimoto I passed a convenience store and bought an obento (to eat at the minshuku for dinner because dinner wasn’t included) and I also called the minshuku to let them know I was on my way but that I might not arrive until 6.30pm or 7pm. I also double checked with the owner to make sure that the last 3km was along a road and not in the forest as it was soon going to be getting dark, but she reassured me it was along a small road.
The Ohechi doesn’t go into Kushimoto, instead it stays north and straight across the point along an old small road passing rice paddies and a couple of houses. Knowing this, I had booked my accommodation just past Kushimoto and closer to Kii Hime station so I knew once the small road I was on joined with Route 42 that I needed to walk along it and back towards Kushimoto for about 500m. This final 500m along Route 42 to the minshuku was a scary way to end the day with no footpath and I was very glad to finally arrive, especially because it was dusk and the sky was a gorgeous pink. The minshuku is opposite the famous Hashigui iwa rocks – approximately 40 large rocks in a line 850 metres long that looks like a bridge – and is said to have been made by Kobo Daishi. It was a beautiful sight at dusk and I’m hoping to be awake to see the rocks at sunrise.
I can’t really recommend today unless you can drive to each forest part because the sections walking along Route 42 with no footpath and barely any shoulder were really quite dangerous.