Monday, November 15, 2004

How I Walked 35 Kilometres to Take a Bath Part the First: Map and Compass

Crossing Ikokuma Forest Road’s Bridge #2 (小川目橋: kogawame-bashi

Kazamaura is generally thought of as a one-road village. You can enter or exit Kazamaura on National Road #279 along the coast either from the southeast or from the northwest. To the northeast is the sea and, beyond, Hokkaido. To the southwest lie the wild mountains of Yagen Forest and the Shimokita interior.

However, there is another road—a back door to Kazamaura and a gateway to the interior. It is the Ikokuma Forest Road (易国間林道). This past Saturday, after my morning slice of toast and cup of coffee, I walked the full length of this road to its termination at Deep Yagen (Oku-Yagen) and the Water Sprite’s hot springs (かっぱの湯)—distance: 17.3 kilometres (new link).

Kit-List: an umbrella, a map, a compass, a chocolate bar, a bag of throat candies, three rice balls (onigiri), and my onsen kit

I recently acquired a 1:25,000 map of Kazamaura (4 cm = 1 km). This, together with my old army compass, is the tool with which I intend to master the uninhabited interior of my village—peak by peak and river by river. The first step was to set the declination on my compass. Local variations in magnetic declination for Japan can be found using this declination calculation tool (just enter the latitude and longitude, in that order). During my years with the Royal Regiment of Canada I was competent enough with the map and compass but shamefully pathetic at interpreting real features on the ground in relation to the map. Most importantly, I never developed the critical skill of gauging distance and elevation with the eye. It is this deficiency which I hope to rectify over the course of the next year or so. By traversing the Ikokuma Forest Road frequently, I will be able to train my eye by studying known distances using landmarks such as the eight bridges and numerous hill tops.