Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chikamiyama

Shikoku 88 Temples Pilgrimage, day 32.
Temples: None.
Distance: 8.2km (921.0km), time spent: 2:56.
Weather: Typhoon.


I just could not let it go, I had to do it. A crazy plan had occured in my mind, I would climb Chikamiyama anyway. The weather outside tells me not to do it, but I pay no heed to it, stubborn as I am. I probably should listen to what the weather is saying, it is raining more ferociously than it has ever done before on this adventure. It is just that the red dotted line going up to the okunoin of Enmeiji on the map had piqued my curiosity too much.

Walking in the rain on the narrow road leading up into the hills towards Chikamiyama.

The slippery forest path to Chikamiyama.

The path up to Chikamiyama starts from a monument on the trail shortly after Enmeiji. To get back there, I took a taxi to the main road below Enmeiji and walked back up to the temple. Of course, I had to make a very quick visit to the temple again, before heading towards the junction from where the path leaves from. A blessing from Kōbō Daishi is a good thing to have for this climb. It is a walk through a suburb of Imabari drenched in rain before I get to where the path enters the forest and hills above. It is not too late to turn back, I suppose what I am doing is not such a good idea.

Rainy and misty views from a small clearing on the way to the top, Imabari and the Seto Inland Sea just barely discernible.

At first the path goes on a very narrow paved road, or a paved path, which becomes narrower and narrower the further up I walk. Actually, the road may still be there, it might just be the debris from the forest covering parts of it. On the map there is marked the location of a path marker, which is where I should leave the road and continue on a forest path. I find the place, I believe, but to make sure I walk some further. The road should end not far away. This brings me to a house, maybe two, which gives me a feeling of being at a place I really should not be at.

The misty forest path to Chikamiyama.

I was however correct about the location of the path marker, except there is not any path marker there. The entrance to the path is almost barred off, both by vegetation and foreboding spider webs. Behind I find the path, overgrown and appearing to be disused over a very long time. I cannot really believe that I am actually doing this. For safety, I have put my GPS on, so that I can backtrack using the recorded route on the device if I should get lost.

At the top of Chikamiyama, the small shrine that is the okunoin of Enmeiji with the pavilion behind.

While the rain and wind shakes the trees and forest around me, I venture up on the overgrown path. Sometimes the path is so overgrown that I cannot see my feet, not knowing what creepy crawlies might be lurking down where my feet are. I use several twigs and branches to clear the path from the spiderwebs. Sometimes the path is steep and slippery, always wet. Sometimes I do not know if I am on the path or not, there appear some white notes that could be path markers, but it is unclear. I have to stop several times playing path detective to find where to go. At a point, I get to a small clearing that would have brought me a view of Imabari and the sea, now only a grey and wet world, with just vague contours of buildings in the clouds.

A close view of the Shimanamani-kaidō road and bridges through the rain clouds.

View of Imabari below and the Seto Inland Sea behind from Chikamiyama.

After I have walked for a while, I start to wonder if I have taken a wrong turn somewhere. It would not be very surprising if I had done so, but eventually I arrive at the top. It is a joyous moment. At the top, behind the small shrine that is the okunoin of Enmeiji, is a pavilion. That is so great, I can have some cover from the rain at least. Although, the wind makes it raining horizontally. Chikamiyama is however, not a very tall mountain, if you will call it a mountain at all. The top is located at 243.7m.

Another view of the Shimanamani-kaidō from a small space below the top of Chikamiyama.

As expected, the views from the top are limited. Happily, though, I discover that gaps are appearing in the clouds and in between I get glimpses of Imabari below and the Seto Inland Sea behind. Turning around, I sometimes also can see the bridges linking Shikoku with Honshu, with blinking lights on top. The road going on the bridges is the Shimanamani-kaidō, which is 60-kilometer long and crosses over seven bridges and six islands. I see something, then nothing, and vice versa. However, those small glimpses are worth all my effort getting up here. Even if I get the wind and rain blown in my face all the time. The sedgehat is just trouble having on my head now.

The winding road down from Chikamiyama.

Going down, I choose to take the road. Winding downwards in the flurry of the rain. To get back to Imabari, I follow the road going next to the railway. Too hungry to wait, I go into the Lawson Station across my hotel for lunch. Then at my hotel room, I sit down and relax, putting the hairdryer to work again. I got quite wet on my walk up to Chikamiyama, but I am so satisfied that I did it. Now I relax for a time, I am not finished with this day yet however.

Looking up towards the hills in the rain, from a small dam after having walked down from Chikamiyama.

As a sidenote, later I heard someone saying this was a really huge typhoon and that some people in the Osaka region had lost their lives in landslides caused by this typhoon. However, it was very much stronger there than here. Fortunately for me, although it might not have been a good idea to climb up to the top.

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