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  • Writer's pictureKarli Messer

Work Gone Wrong, Hiking!

What started as another routine day in Yufuin, would soon be a day to remember in my Japan travels! I won't spoil all of it but, work was canceled, snakes struck the fear of God into the French, and I defeated a mountain (not without it defeating my knees).

In the morning, I wake up with the town alarm at 6 AM, much too early for anything to be open for breakfast, unfortunately. So I give my dad a call and tour him around town in search of any open restaurant, besides the Seven Eleven, to eat breakfast. With no luck, I found only more cats and settled on my first melon pan bread in Japan.

Finally, at 9 AM it was time for work and today we were going to visit a farm that Ryuji san's friend owns. However, late last night, Ryuji heard that his friend he'd seen a few days before had just contracted Covid! I heard that Ryuji san had gone to the local hospital to get tested for Covid, but we weren't told the results until this morning. Unfortunately, Ryuji san had gotten Covid so we had to cancel all Cafe activities, including the farm visit, for the week. From July 22 - July 28, Harappa Cafe will be closed. As sad as this news is, I took it in stride as an opportunity to explore more of Kyushu outside of the small town of Yufuin.

When the French WWOOFers and I heard the news, it was disappointing, but I wanted to try one of the local hikes nearby. We made a game plan and we headed up the mountain at 10 AM. Honestly, there are very few words I can use to describe the scenery here. I took plenty of videos and photos hoping to share it instead! Have you ever seen grass like this at home?

What sights! And my "partners in climb" Charlotte and Thomas!

No sooner had we started the hike when Thomas spotted a snake. Ironically, less than one day before he told me his greatest fear in life is snakes. Apparently, there are no snakes in France, so it was quite a shock. From that point on, I continued on solo.

On the way up, I met some hikers on their way down and asked about the trail. To my surprise, it sounded like the top was in reach so I thought I'd go for it. I caught up to two other young, female hikers who had passed us at the snake. I got one of them to take my photo when the forest finally cleared, with the peak nowhere in sight. Later, I got an update from Charlotte and I sent them the photo of the peak, still many kilometers away. I want you to look at the "path". Unlike the hikes or trails I've been on before, the only evidence that people use the trail was the occasional footprint and the stone path that had been carved out under their feet.

Finally, three hours later I reached the top and I was so hungry! I didn't expect to be climbing a mountain this morning so I had only prepared a 2-liter bottle of water and a tiny trail mix. I was starving so I rested and rehydrated and headed down the mountain hoping to quickly grab a bite to eat. Once again, things don't go as planned and it takes me almost double the time I thought it would to tromp down the trail. By the end of the day, I had achy knees even in my dreams. I'm pretty proud of myself for getting to the top of the mountain, but I realized reaching the peak of Mt. Fuji would be more difficult than I originally imagined.

Also pictured is the delicious lunch/dinner I had from Amamiya Chaya, recommended by the owner of Homme Blue Cafe. It was honestly one of the best meals I've had in Japan so far. The dish I had encompasses all of Oita's local specialties. The ingredients are local and organic too!


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