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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Today's adventure: A muggy hike in Japan. Plus ... more Romanian photos.

Today, I'm not going to talk about adventure travel vacations (well, there are some more photos of Romania to entice you to plan a tour of its wilderness). Instead, I'm going to give you a taste of local hiking in Japan.

Since we live in the concrete jungle of Osaka, my wife and I like to get out into the hills whenever we can. Today, we drove about 1 1/2 hours south to the wilderness.

(Photo of our concrete neighbourhood ... not too many trees in Osaka)

We left the car and headed up a climbing trail to Makio Mountain. Boy, was it hot ... 34.4 degrees C and very muggy. Sweat was pouring in no time. We ground our way up to a fantastic view of a pretty lake below.

Next it was a drop and another climb to Banya Pass -- followed by Bote Pass. More sweating and most of our water bottle decimated.

But, the scenery was fantastic. Here we were -- still near to the second biggest city in Japan -- and we had entered a wonderful wilderness. Few people, lots of trees, and fresh air (something to be treasured when you live in a smoggy urban monster).

Along the trail there were the usual little Jizou (small Buddhist statues that protect the traveler) some of them ageless -- covered in moss, slowly wearing away. I wish I had a slew of photos to show you, but like a dunce I brought a camera with very little film in it ... doh! 1 picture left and it didn't work out. So, here's a photo I found of a Jizou.


We came out in a small out-of-the-way village called Takihata. The village sits wedged in between the mountains and a river. The river looked like a great place to enjoy our lunch ... so we went hunting for a trail down to it -- avoid bushwacking through the thick undergrowth.

We finally found a road that lead down to the river ... only one problem ... a large locked gate. Finally, one of the locals (there never sems to be any people on the streets in these tiny villages) showed their face and I was able to get directions to a trail ... yeah!

It was cool and wonderful. And our lunch ... mmm! I made some quasi-Muffuletta sandwiches and in the heat the cheese had partly melted ... de-e-e-licious. Here's the recipe for 4 sandwiches:

  • Whole-grain bread -- 8 slices
  • Ham -- 4 big slices
  • Cheese (Edam) -- enough to cover
  • Tomato, sliced -- 1
  • Onion -- 1/2
  • Olives -- 1 cup
  • Garlic, sliced -- 3 cloves
  • Pepper -- 1/2 tsp
  • Olive oil -- 2-3 tbsp
Mince a little less than 1/4 of the onion. Put onion, olives, garlic, pepper, and oil in a blender and chop up a bit (don't fully puree -- you want it a bit coarse). Let this mix sit overnight in the fridge.

Spread the olive mixture on all the slices of bread. Slice the remaining onion thinly. Place ham, cheese, tomato, and onion on bread and make a sandwich. The juicy part of the olive spread soaks into the bread and it is delicious.

After lunch, my poor wife was not feling ready to face the grueling hike back in the hot and muggy weather. I do feel sorry for her -- hiking with a mountain man who takes long strides, while she has to do double time to keep up.

So, I left her in Takihata and ran back over the mountains. Actually covered the 3 hour hike in 1 hour and 2 minutes (parts of my lungs are still back on the trail). {Warning: This next two sentences could be construed as a shameless plug, so if you are offended by such actions, please skip to the next paragraph} Ever since I created my program for naturally lowering blood pressure (at followed it myself .. my energy has been phenomenal. I am 48 years old, but I feel as if I am just entering my prime and today's run through the sauna of Japan's rainy season felt GREAT!

Today's hike log just goes to show you ... even in the most crowded, noisy urban centers you are just a short hop from some great outdoor adventures.

Now the new Romanian pics

Late yesterday, I received more photos from my friend in Romania. The first one is a photo of the group that Naziana and Octaviam go hiking with. They look like a fun bunch. Now you can meet hiking friends in Romania.


This next photo shows you some of the sweeping valleys in Romania. Wouldn't you love to hike through this? It gives me such a great feeling of wild, rocky land.


Here's one more, to show you some of the other terrain in Romania.


Until tomorrow ... sweet dreams of hiking and adventure.

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