Finally, I can tell the story about my trip to Akame Falls in more detail. I played with the mosaic maker a bit to see if it would add anything. Five brave souls joined me for their first hike through the former ninja training grounds. Mari-chan doesn’t appear here because she was our scribe (i.e., she was documenting everything with photos). I owe her many thanks.
Shortly after we got on the trail, I received a call from America on my cell phone. Technology can be very handy sometimes. Had we gone any further before the call came, I wouldn’t have had a cell signal. Talk about good timing. It was mom calling from America with happy birthday wishes.
This trip was a personal quest and all great quests must include an impossible mission. My quest was no exception. We split into two groups and the front group would scoot up the trail at a military pace. Eventually they would take a breather to let the rear guard catch up; however, one time it took forever to bring the two halves together. One member had lost a walking stick down a cliff and they had been attempting to recover it. Once we met up and the stick was labeled as beyond recovery, I knew I must find a way to get it on the way down. Repeated expressions of the impossible nature of this task encouraged me greatly. Ultimately, all impossible tasks need to be viewed and approached from different angles. I hiked downriver to a point where I could climb into the water and waded upstream to the stick. From the bottom it was a fairly easy task.
Once the impossible feat was accomplished it was time to take my freshly shaved head out from under my protective sandogasa hat, and climb into the falls for some meditation.
The mosaic hides the scope of the falls, so I threw in an extra shot of me enjoying the invigorating feeling of tons of water pounding on my body. Although, the weather was bright, sunny, and hot, the water is still very cool and invigorating. Having shaved my head about 11pm the night before, I found the water flowed very quickly off my head, dramatically increases the rate of heat loss. When I first entered the falls, the top of my head was freezing. Once I adjusted (or my brain froze) it felt much better.
Shaving my head was a symbol of discarding some of the old and growing something new. The idea of meditating in the falls came from images of certain Japanese ascetics who prepare for an advance to a higher stage of their religion, who shave their heads for the meditation. Of course this turned into a bit of a show, yet I was still able to spend a couple minutes in real prayer. After swimming back to the break area, some lookers-on wanted to know in what temple I had membership. Sometimes I get criticized for praying in inappropriate places because it leads to these mistaken impressions. While I don’t want to be misleading folks, I know that it is appropriate to pray anytime or anyplace.
I expected my shaved head to be very smooth, but I found that it was rough to the point that dressing or disrobing was complicated when my clothes stuck to my scalp like velcro. Probably this was the first and last time to shave my head. Fortunately, my odd genetics have replaced my hair quickly.