With each footstep, I could hear the water whoosh from within my boots. Since daybreak, I had been walking amongst the dense, Japanese cedar forest of the Kumano Kodo. Thousands of steps passing thousands of trees caused a meditative Zen state, in spite of inclement weather. As I neared the highest point of the day’s hike, the clouds parted just enough to reveal the Hongu Valley and the Oyunohara Torri Gate. I set my sights on where I would spend the night and hopefully dry out my boots.