Thursday, March 05, 2015
The forty five km I'd done the previous day had seemed to come easily. Or at least while vertical. When I lay down to sleep, the pain began, mainly in my right instep. There's a good reason I don't walk those kinds of distances anymore. But even more bizarre was what was happening in my mind. The brain was a-babble with a monologue without any real point, just adrift in the seas of the subconscious. I began to wonder (among other things) whether certain reflexology points in the foot are stimulated by long distance walking, causing, say, the pineal gland to trigger a fight or flight response. And the two glasses of a very fine Malbec weren't doing their job of shutting it down.
But a bad's night sleep isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the brain slowed some and I could keep a better focus on what was before me, rather than on lunch, logistics, and other distractions. It was easy then to note the birds warming up their voices, and the few flowers that, though potted, added not only a bit of color to the world, but offered a tease of the olfactory delights to come.
It didn't take long to walk out of Tsu, where I had stayed the night upon completing my Ise Kaido walk the day before. I was back then on the Ise Betsu Kaido, which I had begun walking last August. Hot and stormy weather had prevented me from finishing the walk then, but I had hoped to cover the final 38 km today. But already my legs were heavy, and the sore instep was beginning to worry me. Were those extra km I'd done yesterday in search of lunch coming back to haunt me?
I took a long rest on a river bank, sipping coffee, and watching a trio of men fish. It was about that time I decided that I would finish today at the walk's midway point of Matsusaka, and return sometime later in the year.
This seemed a wise choice as the last five km were spent trying to distract myself from the pain in my foot. One such distraction were the occasional stele denoting where the Meiji Emperor had stopped while on his own pilgrimage to Ise in 1869. What was going through his mind as he stood before the most holy of shrines to Amaterasu, his mythological ancestor? Much of the scenery I was passing through was right out of his own journey, as the countryside looks to have changed very little out here, in the old homes and reasonably unspoiled rural landscape. Yet I had comforts that the Emperor hadn't, in the form of a nice coffee drunk in a warm train carriage, and the view seen from the train window, of my footfalls rolling backwards.
On the turntable: "The Rough Guide to Tex-Mex"