Tetsu and I drank in the beauty and loveliness of God's world yesterday! It was the last day of a three day weekend so we decided to go up to Nikko's National Park about an hour away from us. It is so close I don't know why we don't go more, but I think it's only the second time I've been walking with Tetsu though I've gone hiking with my friends there before.
Since the park is a favorite place for schools to bring children on field trips, there have been times when I've been hiking and it seems like I'm taking part in a parade and can hardly progress forward! I mean 10s of buses will bring hundreds and hundreds of kids in and they all follow the teacher in a straight line, busload after busload! The children are obviously taught the proper manners when hiking "Always greet a fellow hiker" which is fine when you meet one or two people every few minutes but can be a pain for the person being greeted who has to respond to a few hundred "Hello"s as you pass a gaggle of field trip children. Yesterday we only ran into one busload of kids.
Look what I bought at the Nature Center. It is a bell for scaring away bears! Most of the hikers had bells of some type hanging from their backpacks though I don't think there's much danger of being attacked by bears. Too many people out hiking! (There was a sign that said that the last bear sighting was at the end of August, so they are there.) The bell was my fashion statement for the day and a nice memento of the hike. It is quite clever. The clapper can be screwed in to the top of the bell so that you can keep it from ringing if you wish. It was kind of pleasant hearing the bells jangle as you passed people on the trail.
The park was marvelously green and so beautiful to walk through. Well marked paths, even wooden walkways that seem to float over the grass and moors. You aren't supposed to go off the path so most of the land is wild and untouched. The most photographic point of the hike is a lone birch tree off on one of the moors. It is nicknamed "the Noblewoman" and it stands set apart from other trees and from a distant birch forest. In front of that was a "lake" that has met much coverage in the news the past two weeks because it only appears every few years after a major storm or typhoon. The Nikko area was hit by Typhoon 9 a couple of weeks ago and the wild ducks are happily making the lake their home while it is still around. Just lovely too, to see the colors of the grasses, the mountains that were almost erased by the clouds floating in, and the water reflecting the light and peacefulness surrounding it. A wonderful day!