Day 7: Temple 20-23
Stiff gusty winds woke us up at 5am and we decided to break up our camp and get an early start. We had two mountains to climb, one before breakfast and one before lunch. There’s nothing quite like hiking up a very steep mountain first thing in the morning with heavy backpacks.
We’ve been on the trail for a week and are starting to feel a little stronger.
We met up with Gerard from Holland and Raymond from Australia. Although the hiking was tough, the scenery was spectacular, changing from cedar forests to bamboo forests with beautiful views into the valleys below.
On a side note it would be impossible to navigate this trek with out the Shikoku Pilgrimage guidebook which we purchased at Temple 1.
Temple 20 (Kakurinji) situated at the top of the first climb was very picturesque and peaceful.
After Temple 21 (Tairyuji) which is covered with enormous trees has a mystical atmosphere. We took a cable car ride down the mountain which was built in 1992. The vistas were magnificent and it didn’t shorten the hike at all as we had to do 12 km of road hiking making it 1km further to get to Temple 22.
After buying food enough for 3 meals each thereby burdening ourselves with extra pack weight, a long road walk ensued. Just when we thought we were making excellent progress, another hill climb loomed before us, slowing our pace somewhat. We were in a time crunch and had to make it to Temple 22 before closing time at 5 pm. We arrived a few minutes late but the lady in the noukyosho office kindly stamped our book and scroll. I asked her whether we could camp in the grounds for the night and she gave us permission. Whew! A safe place to rest our weary bodies again. Temple 22 ( Byodoji) is associated with healing waters, especially for leg problems.
Thank you for sanctuary for the night.
Day 8: Temple 23
A chilly morning greeted us on the grounds of the temple. I’ve been sleeping in multiple layers of clothing to stay warm at night: merino wool long pants and top, fleece pants over that with a T shirt, fleece jacket, puffy jacket and outer shell. Merino wool socks and a warm hat top it as I snuggle into a cold weather sleeping bag with an additional silk sack.
We hobbled 23 km along paved roads including highways and byways and arrived to the majestic Temple 23 (Yakuoji) by noon. A place where you pray that misfortune will not fall upon yourself or others.
Our oasis have become Lawson, Family Mart and 7Eleven convenience stores along the way. Our lunch stop included purchasing food for the next long leg of 77 km before the next temple with not much in between. Onwards and upwards.