My next destination was to return to Kanazawa where I would get a lift with Stephan Smithdorff to Miyagi Prefecture on Monday… Instead of returning there in one day along the same flat coastal route that I came with, I opted for a rather more adventurous 3 day course through the mountains via Katsuyama, Hakusan and Tsurugi.
I left The Lighthouse in Mikuni at 06h15 this morning with the aim of reaching Katsuyama by 10h00, finding a nice camping spot, set up camp and off load all my gear so that Shummie and I can go ride some mountain bike trails in the mountains between Katsuyama and Ono. Apparently stunning trails, and Mom has not even seen a mountain bike trail since her arrival in Japan, so hearing about these possibilities was cause for great excitement!
Well, that was the idea… What was to unfold this day was a completely different story. However, Mom wanted adventure and Mom got adventure! Smile…
Started out with a nice and relaxed ride enjoying the fresh morning air.
Going past a building that was on fire when I passed it 2 days ago on my way to Eiheiji Temple, now only the remnants remaining…
Took a little bit of a detour to go see the Maruoka Castle that my Warmshowers host of 15 June, Taka , recommended.
Enjoyed breakfast there in the gardens of Maruoka Castle.
Reached Katsuyama by 10h00 as I was hoping, so all going well according to plan. In my search for camping options, I spotted the Yoshinogen Auto camping ground on the way up to the ‘Ski Jam’ area where some of the mountain bike trails start from, so figured that may be a good spot for setting up camp. It is quite a climb up there, and not first prize with this heavy load, but I will just set my mind on it and do it! Turn by turn we will get there.
So I asked my Maps.Me app for the route and it gave me a ‘scenic’ option through green areas on the map, instead of the normal tar road. I was all set for the tar road, but since the app now suggests the scenic version, I went for it. Why not? The distance and ascent was similar to the tar route.
But boy oh boy, was it tough! The pictures don’t really reflect it, but it was very hard climbing. My legs were burning…
It was humid and hot and I stopped often to give my legs a break and wipe all the sweat that was streaming off my face…
Then… the foresty type road covered in leaves and pine needles all of a sudden became like a new road that is busy being built. Very excited I pedaled on as it was much smoother than the uneven surface of the forest road so far. Until I saw this baby blocking my way! Eish, what to do??? There is no way I can go over…
So I will have to go under…
But… with Shummie loaded with about 40 kilos of stuff, it is impossible for me to pick up the rear side and get her to move once she is lying on her side! It took about 20 minutes to get Shummie through this opening.
Relieved to finally work Shummie through there, my jaw dropped when I saw a few more logs that had to be taken on… Slowly me and Shummie worked our way through each of them, some over and some under…
More and more logs followed and about 2 hours later I was forced to take a lunch break when Shummie’s back tyre was all misplaced after getting through this last challenge. The wheel could not turn anymore and I had to remove all the bags to see whats up. It was 2pm and I was exhausted… I I decided to have lunch first, sat back, enjoyed the view and regained some strength.
Checking out my progress on the Map app, it showed that I was not on course anymore. This ‘new’ road was not reflected anywhere on the map. Eish!
I knew I just have to trust God to get me safely out of this mountain, as I don’t know if I will be be able to fix this wheel, I don’t know if any more logs may be blocking the way ahead, even lying flat on the road and blocking any further progress completely. I do not even want to entertain the thought of having to turn back and work my way through each of the logs I had to deal with so far… And then everyone keeps telling me of the bears in these Japanese mountains!
All of a sudden I heard the sound of a chain saw higher up in the mountain above me. Wow, at least there is other life around!
With my body fed and full of new energy, I looked closely at the wheel and noticed that the whole axle came loose from where it is suppose to be. Very greatful that I was able to fix the wheel I loaded Shummie again and set off to find the chain saw people!
Amazed but very happy to find this machine on the road, I stopped and tried to get the guy’s attention. When he spotted me, he immediately started clearing the road for me and removed all logs and branches covering the road.
Once the road was cleared, he parked the machine and came to greet me. Meet Hiro, my next angel! What an amazing man with a caring heart! He spoke quite a bit of English, was very interested about what I was doing in the mountain and filled my water bottle TWICE from his own sports drink (I was very thirsty and without water for long by now).
Hiro said I am completely on the wrong road and the only option for me is to continue with this road now, it is a comfortable road… just keep to the right at every turn and it will bring me all the way down and back into town again.
So I kept right at every turn… Wow, this was fun! It was steep downhills and I enjoyed the wind through my hair. But then the road started looking a bit dodgy and I started laughing nervously… This cannot be the right way! There is no way that this can be labeled a comfortable road!
No way! Cannot be! Look at this!
Well, I truly hope this will take me all the way down, cause there is NO WAY I am turning around and battle all the way back up again!
OK, so here is the good news! Amazing news, actually. My Father provided as just He can, again!!
I continued down that road until it came to a t-junction. Did not know which way to turn. Hiro said to keep right, but right was now UP hill and I wanted to go DOWN hill! Still busy looking at my map, a little van came out of nowhere from the left… 2 people totally stunned to find me there. Happens to be environmental people on their way into the mountain to get water monsters….
So they directed me out of the mountain. I had to keep left, going down, thankfully!
All of a sudden the clouds are building up and the wind is blowing… Boy, oh boy, where will I go camp in this weather now… need to find a spot with some shelter hopefully.
Upon reaching the town I stop to check out the map. and see a message from Chika (from the Lighthouse)… Now hear this! Wow! She says she arranged with her friends from the Katsuyama Christian Church for me to sleep at the church that night should I want to….
Oh YES, I want to! I am tired and dirty and sweaty AND the rain is about to come down! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
And look at this! Never mind just a warm bed, I was blessed with a whole suite! A kitchen and a lounge and a lovely bathroom WITH a washing machine and all the necessary detergents!
On top of all this, the very friendly ‘stranger’, yet brother in Christ, first made sure there is good coffee before he greeted and left. I did not even mention coffee, he just knew… Thank You, Father!
After 2 cups of coffee, a nice shower and washing on the line (under roof), the rain stopped and, as if the day was not full enough, I decided to go for a ride to the highly recommended Heisenji Hakusan Shrine, apparently covered in moss and very beautiful … Well, I am glad I went, it was very beautiful and tranquil.
And the setting sun on my way back completed an amazing day!