Saturday July 26th Hiked – 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) 8 hrs
“Every journey begins with one small step”
I took that small step today at about 6:00 am. Woke up to find my trusty sandals stolen and a strap on my pack broken. An hour walk along the coast on Highway 8 finally brought me to the trail head into the Kita Alps. I imagined that the day was going to be a slog and difficult but it turned into one of the most grueling days I’ve spent along a hiking trail. Although the weather cooperated and it didn’t rain and the sun didn’t beat me down, the shear weight of my pack combined with mostly uphill slog in very muddy conditions left me more frustrated than I’ve been in a long time. Not to mention the fact that I consider my self to be embarrassingly out of shape, mostly due to the infinite amount of farewell parties I attended over the last three weeks. Despite the difficulties the day brought, my slow pace allowed me to cross my first mountain on my journey (Shiritaka-yama). At only 667 meters (2,187 feet) it was a great psychological boost for a day that had me wondering what I was getting myself into. I’m now sitting in the Shirotori Koya (hut) on top of Shirotori-san which stands at 1286 meters (4,218 ft) contemplating the day and tomorrow’s hike. I’m sitting next to two men, one from Fukuoka-ken who is on a south to north bike ride with a west to east hiking trip (the same route I’m taking) through Japan. The other man is from Shizuoka! The province I lived in for three years. I’m very sore and tired but content that day one in on the trail is complete.