I am hiking on the Kumano kodo at last. It seems like a long time ago that I started planning this trip. Amazingly, everything is working. To get to the trailhead from Mt Koyo, I took a bus, a cable car, three trains, and another bus. This first night I am staying in a country guesthouse in a village named Takahara—or “high fields” in English. The inn hangs high above a valley, and maybe tomorrow morning will have fog and clouds caressing the mountains and clinging to the valleys.
It was a reasonably tough ascent to get here, over old gnarled tree roots and a rocky path that has been trod by pilgrims for literally millennia. Every once in a while a shrine or a marker reminded me of the history. The topography is steep, with erratic ups and downs, and a chill autumn wind helped make sure that I did not tarry too much. Fortunately, here in Takahara I have dinner, a warm bed, and a hot communal bath. Ah, joy indeed for the distance hiker!