Friday, August 21, 2020

Hisatsu Line

After leaving Kosenji Temple I face a dilemma in choosing my route. The next temple is almost directly north of where I am, but that is across a mountain range in a completely different drainage. For three days I have been following the Sendai River, and from here the river heads north up to its source high in the same mountains. An obviously logical choice is to take that route.

It would mean a 35 kilometer hike along a moutain/forest road with no settlements or vending machines so I would need to stock up on food and liquids. It would also mean climbing to a tad less than 1,000 meters above sea level. Its the end of November and down here in the valley it froze last night so at 1,000 meters it will be very cold. Not undoable, and an attractive option. My worry is that on the steep slopes on the northern side there may well be lots of snow and ice. The dirt road closes in Winter and may already be closed.

I cautiously decide to backtrack and go over the mountains at a lower point. There is an expressway paralleled by a main road but I really don't want to deal with so much traffic..... especially as there is a good chance that the sidewalk will be non-existent in places. I decide to take the train!!!

The Hisatsu Line is a delightful train line that runs from Yoshimatsu over the mountains to Hitoyoshi in Kumamoto with some great views of the Kirishima Mountains. Its one of the tourist trains with floor to ceiling windows and wooden interiors. On the way up the train stops several times to reverse and negotiate a set of switchbacks. Several time the train stops for passengers to enjoy the views.

On the other side of the pass the line does a 360 degree loop before negotiating another set of swirchbacks. Here I get off and look for a place to sleep out before carrying on down the mountain on foot the next morning


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