In the above image, taken 6-days prior to my trip, Ikomayama is blanketed in snow. The day before, the Pacific Coast of Japan was struck by a record-breaking snowfall (Japan Times), so I was conscience of my safety and took the appropriate measures - adequate clothing, maps, food & drink, e.t.c. - when preparing my gear. Within minutes of setting-out from my arrival point, Tozanguchi in Shijonawata City (map location), I was greeted with a 2cm carpet of snow, and would remain that way for most of my trip.
Because I didn't carry a pair of crampons, I wasn't going to take any risks and tread carefully - I am aware of the risks involved in walking on compacted snow, so, whenever I needed to, I walked in the loose snow on the side of the track. Having hiked in this area several times over the years, I was aware of the terrain ahead.
Hozan-ji Temple (map location), and the Shigi-Ikoma Skyline Road, which runs parallel to my track.
views and, if the conditions are right, views for as far as the eye can see - Wakayama, Kobe, Awaji Island, Osaka, Nara, the list goes on-and-on.
It's also an ideal location for me to break for lunch, climb the steps for my view and check-out the interesting collection of padlocks (image on the right). I get the distinct feeling that this is a tradition, when visiting this site, to bring a padlock, inscribe a message or name on it, and attach it to the wire.
Upon leaving the viewing platform, I discover the signage changes and I have to rely on instinct, and my maps. I am somewhat disappointed as to how this has happened and I come to the conclusion that, over time, they will eventually upgrade the signs. The track crosses the 'Skyline Road, via a bridge, and, soon after, I arrive at a junction where three tracks converge. Taking the time to admire this religious icon, and maps, I become confused as to what track is mine. So, not wanting to take to wrong track and end-up miles of course, I walk along the Road and, before long, my track re-emerges from the forest and I heave a sigh-of-relief. I reach a tunnel, that goes under the 'Skyline Road, and I know exactly where I am.
This is confirmed soon after, when I reach this junction. It is here I say farewell to track-24 and join track-20 and descend towards Sango. While checking the map another hiker passed-by. I had seen this man earlier, at the junction where I wasn't quite sure what track to take, confirming that my track did proceed from that point.
. . . . Chogosonshi-ji Temple. As I was hiking, and aware I still had some distance to cover, I didn't want to spend too much time here, so decided to place this complex on my "Must Return" list. It's a huge site and, I would say, requires some hours to take-in and explore the many buildings that are here.
Exiting the complex, I say farewell to track-20, and my friend the tiger-dragon (for want of a better name) and say hello to track-23, the final track
of the day.
From start to finish - Tsuda to Sango - the total distance covered is just short of 44km. I am very keen to return to the area and, on that occasion, I would plan to stay the night and check-out some of the other side-tracks that connect with track-24. So watch this space.
Links: Full video of the days outing.
Cateye Enou; Shijonawate to Sango - part-1 and part-2
Ride With G.P.S.