Gordon: An elevation profile of the Shikoku pilgrimage looks like the ECG of the last few moments of a person’s life: mostly flat, but with random spasmodic spikes. In pilgrim parlance these climbs are known as “henro korogashi”: “where a pilgrim falls down”.
Today, I braved the first of these climbs to go from Temple 11 to 12. I had walked 55 kms in the previous two days, which was an ambitious start to the pilgrimage. At the end of the second day I was feeling quite knackered, with an incipient blister on one foot, and most concerning, an inflamed tendon in one knee. Because of my beat up state, and the notoriety of the walk to Temple 12, I was actually concerned about how it would go.
As it turned out, it was a beautiful walk in the woods. The trail passed through magnificent cedar forests and crossed crystal clear streams. There were endless small statues lining the path. It was rather strenuous, with three climbs totalling 1100 metres, and similar descents. I felt quite strong, and despite the risk, I managed to not fall down.
Ruth had been worrying and strategizing about the stage to Temple 12 for several weeks. It is only 12 kms to walk the distance, but multiples of that to get to the temple on a road suitable for a bicycle. In the end, she arranged to share a taxi with Geraldine, an Irish pilgrim. Temple 12 is set in a forest of enormous cedar trees, providing a beautiful setting for Ruth to paint while she waited for me to walk to the temple.