Shikoku. Day 12-16. 875kms of hills and filth.

11 Aug

Day 12. Saturday, May 30th.
The answer to the question everyone is asking me is “no”. We haven’t showered since we left Sydney 14 days ago……

Two smelly soldiers had 33 kms to reach Temple 41. It was “stinking” hot. Drinking Pepsi by 10 am. Thank Buddha for cold vending machines.

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Temple 42 (only 2.6 Kms over the hill) is where you pray for your animals. A quick “hello” to my old Bernese Mountain Dog, Darcy and chat to the Monk doing our stamp. He had a toothache I asked him if it was tooth hurty, and he said “no it’s 1 o’clock….”

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The rain started.
A man in a car offered to drive us to Temple 43, 11 kms away… I had to decline even though you should always accept “osettai”. Beautiful temple.

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We walked along a main road to find lunch in the rain at 3:30.

We stayed on the road in the hope of finding a toilet floor to dry out and possibly call it a day. We found two. Both were locked. Someone must be on to us….. On we plodded in the pouring rain. Maybe our tents were going to have to come out finally. The thought of having to carry a wet tent in our packs tomorrow kept us moving. Trucks splashing any road puddle seemed to venture much higher on my body than Andy’s…

We were hoping to eat the soba noodles we’d bought for dinner in some fancy accommodation. They were eaten in a bus shelter while we were intermittently splashed by the trucks.

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There was no choice but to continue on. We found a nice verandah of a closed shop, but a barking dog next door made us move on. After a few kilometers of very wet road, we spotted a henro hut with no walls. It was more like a picnic table. The rain was coming down and it was windy. Trucks hooning down the road meant a noisy night, but we managed to dry out some of our gear.

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Day 13. Sunday, May 31st.

No shower appeared. 2 weeks, no wash.

The next morning was misty but dry. Beside the hut was an antique portaloo…. more like a drop toilet. I would rather squat in the bushes than die of the vapour that infused into my brain when I opened the door.
The mist lifted and we had another stinking hot temple free day to run. The distance between Temple 43 and 44 was 68.3kms.
First break after 15kms was Maccas. One Maccas meal a week is pretty welcome. They have dry tables and chairs and sometimes power points! (yeah, ok, they have real people’s toilets as well…)
Another offer of “osettai” in the form of a Japanese couple wanting to drive us to a temple. A polite ” ii e keko des” and they drove off.
It was a two ice cream day and the lunchtime stop involved me taking off my top at a tap in a small village to wash it. I really think I’m beginning to smell…
Big climb at the end of the day after following the river for most of the day.
Bought dinner as we just knew from experience that we’d find an appropriate spot to rest our weary legs. We’ve really scraped the bottom of the barrel so expectations are pretty low…..
Henro hut spotted, but the toilet block 50 metres away near the Sports Centre was even better with power points!

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Ate dinner then went to attempt to splash myself in the ladies loos.
Vending machine with flashing lights was a welcome disturbance for the night. Better than highway noise.

Day 14. Monday 58.5 kms
Temples 44-50
Left our pack hidden in the henro hut garden and went to Temple 45 before going back to 44 and picking up pack. Nice to get 20 Kms in without the load.
Temple 45 was so remote. Cave to an alter. Huge rock face.
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Beautiful trail to get there. Pretty special being out as the sun was rising through the trees.
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Back to temple 44 before cranking up the heat and doing the 17 Kms to temple 46.
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Hoping to get through Temple 50 before stamp office shuts at 5pm. Got there at 4:30 pm with the usual mind games starting of where we’d be sleeping. With 10 kms between 50 and 51, we made our way past Dogo Onsen a hot spring believed to be Japan’s oldest at 3,000 years.
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God I need a wash! There were beautiful people walking around in kimono looking clean. I don’t think we’d have been welcome.
After going an extra 5 Kms, we stopped at a supermarket to buy dinner and breakfast. Out the door to find sleeping quarters for the night. A Golden archway just down the road was a missed opportunity to have sat at a table to eat dinner…
Spotted a green metal fence that spells school, or park. In to investigate potential sleeping quarters. Kids were playing.
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Oooh, toilet block. This could be digs for the night……
The worst effing choice. Ever.
By 9:30 pm we’d decided the disabled quarters was prime real estate. By 10pm we were seriously regretting our smugness as some Japanese dude lit up a ciggie a metre from the door which we had left a shoe in to ventilate the stench that was in there before (yes, BEFORE) we arrived. Then the cavalry arrived. 4 or 5 dudes now shining their torches in to see who we were. I had my sleeping bag over my face in the corner while Andy was lying across the door with no shirt on looking like something from a concentration camp (oh, that’s not a good thing to write… Stuff that. This is MY blog.) One guy was asking in broken English some questions. I would have just answered with “Henro” but didn’t want to give it away that one of us was female. I’ll let Andy deal with it.
Finally left alone. For an hour. By midnight we had another visitor. These nights in cities (Matsuyama) bring a totally different problem to finding a home for the night and getting 60 Kms done.

Mozzies were atrocious, the smell shocking and seriously stifling conditions.
Up at 4:30am (I did not sleep) put all my gear outside the toilet and breathed.

No complaints from Andy. We were outta there. “Ohayo gozaimasu” to the old lady gardening at 5 am getting weeds off a path but leaving rubbish everywhere. There is so much rubbish lying around and not a bin in sight.
We carried out our rubbish for over 10 kms before we found somewhere to dispose of it.
Off for another full day with no sleep. Stuffed… my hair is the dirtiest it has ever been, lucky I don’t possess a mirror.

Tuesday Day 15. Yes, we officially smell.
Nothing exciting about the two temples this morning.
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What was exciting was being offered “osettai” of 500 yen and then later in the morning meeting a lovely old couple who just didn’t want to leave us alone….
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So much so, the old lady who had been walking with her husband appeared on a motor bike 20 mins later with “osettai” Nibbles and postcards.
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She was so happy, spoke no english, and when I gave her one of my opal koala bear pins, she nearly cried.
We were skirting the inland sea on the north shore and could see Honshu. It made us feel like we were getting somewhere.

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We arrived at Temple 57 at 4:30pm. After that, our plan was to find the henro hut up in the mountains with dinner from Circle K. It was raining. Any henro hut would do. Found it right on the road. No toilets, water or power, but that also means no jerks to invade our serenity.
Just wish I could wash my socks…
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Weds. Day 16
Up at 2 am to stick plastic food container in the rain to soak my socks in. Voila, washed by 6am 😊
Still pouring when we got up.
Got Temples 58, with osettai of mekan (mandarin) and then 59 out of the way and started the 27 kms to Temple 60.

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Yet another offer of osettai from a guy in his car giving us cans of green tea.
The 7 km hike up to 60 was beautiful.

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Streams, trees and mountains hidden in cloud.

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Total highlight of the day was the monk at Temple 60 stamping our books. He did UTMB (Ultra Tour Mt Blanc 100 miler) last year in 41 hours and had a Patagonia t-shirt under his robe!
His backyard is trail heaven.

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I had to pay the 600 yen for both our stamps with a 10,000 yen note. When he came to giving me change he placed the money on the bench like a high rolling gambler! Great sense of humour.

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Found Henro hut and toilet about one km from the next temple and wandered into town to the supermarket to buy dinner.

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Ate at the Henro shelter then washed up in the toilets and charged electronics off the toilet fancy flush power point.
Thinking the toilet block may be warmer and more sheltered than the Henro bench……yeah, wait for it. This may get ugly…..

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