I am not fond of leeches. I am yet to work out how they add to the ecological values of our planet. Call me paranoid if you like.
At home in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia, I tend to be a beacon of sorts for those pesky leeches. While this skill is much appreciated by my fire fighter colleagues who seem immune from attack, I dread taking of my boots to undercover blood soaked socks and engorged black lumps dropping to the ground.
While up at Nikko in August 2010, I ventured up to Kinugawa Onsen, with the intention of riding the ropeway up the adjacent mountain and walking down to Ryuouku Gorge. That day the ropeway and all the tracks were closed due to an infestation of leeches!
I have made a couple of upbeat postings of the recent trip to Kawayu Onsen. See These are not snow monkeys and Kameya Inn. But I withheld the story about being sucked on by leeches in the otherwise beautiful riverside otenburo. Damn water leeches!
So after the Kawayu incident as it is known by my family, I became pretty hesitant about going into the trails and forests of Japan (or the rivers for that matter).
So on a day trip along the beautiful Oigawa gorge on Oigawa Railway Hikawa Line, I got off at Sessokyo Onsen Station with the intention of walking the fantastically named Love Romance Road loop trail, before getting back to Sessokyo Onsen for the next train.
The infrastructure around this walking track is brilliant, and a credit to those with the foresight to develop it.
The pictured suspension bridge spans the Oi River. The track skirts the river for a kilometre or so, hanging of the side of the hills generally about 50 metres above the river, offering great views.
A number of pedestrian suspension bridges are crossed as well as a few brilliant red arched bridges crossing streams and creeks, with occasional glimpses of minor water falls.
With the humid June air, thick canopy and soft leaf litter, I started to freak out about leeches. So I came up with a brilliant plan. Don’t stand still long enough for a leech to attach.
Maybe not the best plan given I was wearing jeans, and shoes not made for running that were too small and already hurting my feet.
Running soon gave way to a more sensible fast walk which did allow me to take in the clean air, the greens of the thick foliage, and to observe keen fisherman trying their luck in the river below.
So did I enjoy the Love Romance Road? Damn right I did.
Did I get any leeches? Damn right I didn’t!