This stretch was a mixed bag of wonderful Nakasendō/Kiso-ji (中山道・木曽路) backroads and the monstrous national R19, with truck after truck whizzing past. On a couple of occasions I found myself breaking out into a gentle jog to get some sections finished quickly while pondering whether cycling would have made it more enjoyable. The conclusion was no, cycling would not have made it more enjoyable, it would have made it worse. Staying as far away from those trucks as possible was the wise choice and a bicycle would have done the oppostie. Besides, the backroad were a delight.
Local trains between Shiojiri and Nakatsugawa (中津川) are so infrequent that if I want to get home at a reasonable hour to hang out with my family then timing my walk to arrive at a station just before the train rolls in is imperative. That’s why I found myself abandoning Okuwa (大桑) as the destination for the day and instead finished in Suhara (須原) with ten minutes to spare before the (late) train arrived. If I’d missed that I’d have had to wait a few hours for the next one. Yes, carrying on to Okuwa was an option had I missed the train, but it was hot – almost real Japanese summer hot. So I decided to call it a day.
I started this walk in Shiojiri (塩尻) late last year and I’ve been slowly plodding my way through month after month, 15 kilometres here, 20 kilometres there on a fairly regular basis but am now nearing the end and need to decide whether to finish the walk in the middle of summer or wait until autumn when things cool down considerably. I suspect the lure of the high mountains and the cooler temperatures (with zero trucks) will become more appealing so later is more likely. Whatever I choose, there’s no hurry (or obligation to get it done) and that’s one reason I’m enjoying it so much.
As usual, there’s a short montage of video below. It seems silly to take along a super modern hybrid camera and not make some video as well.