From the git-go, today's walk was difficult. We went up, and up, and up some more.
We passed a few things: a rock where three deities met for tea and gossip, old lodging sites and teahouses which were last used in the 1920s before the trail fell into disuse for several decades, a shrine.
But mostly it was straight up, a staircase that rose nearly 700 meters (2100 feet) in elevation in 5km/3 miles. We were both really exhausted by the time we reached the top, where the information sign noted how a 10th century poet described the path: "It is impossible to say precisely how tough the path is". I hadn't had my morning coffee, and was really trudging along slowly. Note to self: coffee is a great performance drug.
From the top of the pass, the trail dipped down slightly, then rose to the highest point. I found this section somewhat interesting, as it's cooler and higher than the lower elevations we were mostly walking though, and different flowers and trees were blooming. After a brief stop at a rest area, we continued along the ridgeline, with slopes on either side, and eventually started the final descent at a viewpoint with a fine view to the coast.
We both were counting down the kilometers as we got closer to the Nachi temples--my quads were aching, Chris's calves and the bottom of his feet were hurting--and we just wanted to be done for the day. By the time we reached the Nachi shrine and its beautiful waterfall, we quickly appreciated it, then said "OK, bus to boat shuttle to the hotel to the outside onsen for a soak".
And that's what we did--nothing much to report. Our hotel is a Japanese style hotel on an island in the bay that Katsuura sits on, floating like a cruise ship, and it has hot springs that flow into these wonderful outside pools. We soaked, then we ate yet another dinner of many dishes. Mmmmm, tasty. With all that walking we did as well, we collapsed early into bed.
Tomorrow is the train ride to Tokyo. Yay, a change of pace. And no walking either. Today's walk was definitely one of the most difficult I've done, and I consider myself pretty fit at this point. All those steps up and down really beat me up. I'm happy that the next few days will be walking on smooth pavement... and relaxing in comfy seats on trains and planes as we wrap up our trip.