We spent a sleepless night on the rocky banks of the river. As tired as we were, there was a lingering unease in our minds that prevented us from falling asleep. Still, we managed to doze off enough to recover a bit of energy.
The next day, we set off as soon as the sun rose. As we traveled downstream, I realized that our camp had been right next to Kamisu 66. It was so close that we didn’t really need to stop last night. But given our condition yesterday, maybe it was a good idea we hadn’t continued.
In the morning sun, the Tone River glittered a dazzling gold, as if celebrating our return. What happened to the black river of Hades we had been struggling with just a few hours earlier?
We stopped paddling and let the current carry us along.
The scenery gradually became more familiar. Although I was eager to go home, the closer we got to town, the more apprehensive I felt.
I was sure that we would be met with an entourage of boats to take us in, but didn’t see anyone even as we passed Ikisu Shrine.
With such an anticlimactic response, we relaxed considerably.
Though maybe we should have been more alarmed. It was actually very unusual to not see a single boat this early in the morning.
As we arrived in Hayring at the dock we had set out from four days ago, someone finally came out to greet us.
“You’re back early.”