Little did we know this would be one of the most challenging days of all time during our travels. We knew that the hike wasn’t easy, but many have said that it would be worth it, but we had other challenges to face to!
Bright and early at 7:30am, we took a train to Omi-takashima to catch the 9am bus. In our backpack were the 2 walking sticks that were labelled as not suitable for mountain climbing from Daiso, wet wipes, gloves, mini fan, two water mineral bottles, sunblock, citronella, gummy bears, 1 kit Kat bar, half pack of pokey sticks, iPhone, ocean bag, towels, change of socks and shorts, and we only had sneakers.
The train ride was scenic and we saw fields after fields of yellow and green:
While waiting for the bus, we realised we only had 1000+ yen left in cash and they don’t accept credit card for any card top-ups. We were 1+ hours away from Kyoto and we were probably going to spend every last cent we had in case to get back to Kyoto after the trip. Undeterred, we decided to still enjoy our hike.
We started noticing a lot more well equipped hikers and 95% were senior elders looking older than 65! When we all got off the bus, we decided to follow the rest who looked a lot more experienced.
The elders soon started over-taking us and they were clearly a lot fitter and more adept than we were! We soon came to the first waterfall crossing. Some started to sit down to eat. We rested too and following the elders, we successfully crossed the 1st water rocks with chains!
We soon started to fall behind and started to use our hands to climb. Thank goodness we bought the gloves from Daiso.
Soon, we were so far behind that we couldn’t really see where the rest of the hikers were. We started to get lost and then we met an old man who was coming down and he said something which we didn’t understand so we continued upwards and met 2 others girls who also didn’t understand us. We decided to keep going, but that was when the first old man came back for the girls and told us that we were headed for the wrong way through hand gestures. He led the way, and we followed along with the 2 girls and they very kindly kept looking back to make sure we kept up and didn’t lose sight of them.
Finally we reached this beautiful landing spot and he even offered us frozen grapes and jelly! We are seriously touched by the generosity and kindness of these strangers that we meet on the way. We offered our wet wipes n gummy bears in return and had a happy rest together.
There were a few more dangerous climbs with ropes where we could not take any pictures as we were busy trying not to fall to our deaths and soon we got lost again… The coloured ribbons tied on trees can be found, but sometimes we just do not know if we were heading in the right directions or just going in circles.
We managed to find 2 guys sitting down having a picnic on rocks and they kindly gave us some good directions. Just 3 more hours ahead to the JR station where we could head back to Kyoto. We were to get up to Kita-Hira Togei summit, and then just head down all the way.
We pushed on even though we were tired and hungry and finally we reached the summit they talked about! What greeted us was an amazing view of Lake Biwa and the surroundings and we also met with a crowd of happy old folks. They were clearly amused to see us and offered us biscuits and asked where we came from.
We enquired and learnt that we had 2 more hours to go before we can reach the bottom of the mountain. 2 hours ago, we heard that it was 3 hours to the bottom, so clearly our speed was really slow!
We were going to follow them down the mountain when Mr Lillots asked me to pose for a picture with the mountain map. And then another with them in the backdrop against the beautiful blue skies. By the time we went down the trail, we never saw the group again. They must have flew down the mountain! We also met some folks who marveled at our attire. Looking back, yeah, we looked more like we were going for a picnic or a golf driving range than a hike.
The way down was extremely rocky, probably 80% of the distance and in our sneakers, we had no chance. We kept getting overtaken by other hikers and soon we asked a couple of they knew how long more it took to reach the bottom. 2 hours. Geez, we were really slow for we had walked for a long time since the summit. It would not be that fun having to camp overnight in the forest.
We reminded ourselves to bring hiking boots the next time we attempt any hikes and my head started getting giddy from staring down at all the rocky paths and trying hard not to stumble.
We finally reached a car park and was hopefully some good samaritan would give us a ride out. No such luck. We did meet 3 hikers who were walking out too. They said that the JR station is actually very far away and at first we were a little proud and thought to ourselves, “you have no idea what is far since we had hiked since 9am” ha! Never be proud because they were not over-estimating. The station is really far as we couldn’t even see where it was when we finally got out onto the highway. But nonetheless, we were happy we made it back to civilisation alive! There were moments when seriously I thought I may just slip and die. I thank my gloves and nature’s roots for letting me hold on to my dear life. The more experienced Mr Lillots had less difficulty but nonetheless we were truly grateful.
Our legs were breaking from our bodies and we decided to go to a cafe nearby to rest and recharge. We ordered 1 iced coffee and 1 orange juice and then suddenly remembered we didn’t have much cash left. We asked and realised to our horror that they didn’t accept credit cards. So we deducted our train ticket costs and found that we could only afford 1 coke.
The Japanese are truly generous and kind hearted as the owner gave us 1 coke for free so that we both could quench our thirst. Not only that, he even offered and gave us a ride to the Omi-maiko JR station which was some distance away. There was no way we could repay him for his kindness and we were super touched and inspired once again. We thanked him profusely and off he went back to his cafe.
With another lucky stroke of luck, the train fare turned out to be cheaper than we thought. Happily we reached Kyoto and we had to take a bus to reach our hotel. Horrors of horrors, the bus we took somehow did not accept our prepaid ICOCA card! We emptied our purse of 121 yen for our fare of 400 yen and the gracious bus driver accepted it and just said that next time please remember to bring cash. Another awesome Japanese.
After such an intense day, we had to reward ourselves with great food. We visited this place where we had really good chicken wings and we feasted on that and lots of Ramune. The cute waitress was really happy to see us back again too!
Please go to Ponto-Cho and try out Yama-San’s chicken wings. They are really good! We went back a couple of times to eat it throughout our trip.
When we went back to the hotel, we applied the Deep Heat cream to our sore muscles and promptly headed for very sweet dreams. Zzz….