Pilgrimage On Shikoku Island

Online forum for discussions related to the 88 temple pilgrimage on Shikoku, Japan.


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    Shikoku Henro Trail
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    First time walker

    Post by Shikoku Henro Trail on Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:37 am

    Originally posted by several members in 2012 and 2013.
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    nlpilgrim

    « Thread started on: May 22nd, 2012, 07:24am »
    Hi all,

    I'm a dutch student planning to walk the trail in late july/august/september 2013 (depends on study).
    I've been facinated by the trail for a while now, and i think it would be a great experience.
    I got the route book and been studying the trail and resting spots etc, but the thing that is troubling me is the weight of the pack i'll be carying.
    Ill be 22 when walking and im physicaly very fit, however carrying a tent, sleeping bag and matras in a big pack would result in a steady 7/8kg.
    And thats even without clothes and supplies.

    Would you recommend trusting on the availability of shelters, thus leaving the tent. Or do you guys have any other tips about keeping the weight down?

    With kind regards,

    nlpilgrim

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    dukkha

    « Reply #1 on: May 23rd, 2012, 03:40am »
    My son is doing Nojuku henro right now. He has a 50 litre pack, small tent, etc. I think they are doing a mixture of camping, shelters etc. All going well at this stage. I walked it staying at minshuku, and saw enough huts and places I could have slept, not to mention offers from locals to stay in their spare rooms, sheds etc.

    Like any first time henro he probably has too much stuff, and will get rid of excess equipment along the way as he realises the bare minimum to exist day by day. He'll be back late July, so feel free to email me with any questions then and my son might have some fresh answers for you.

    dukkha
    maemuki@live.com

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    WillyM

    « Reply #2 on: May 26th, 2012, 5:26pm »
    Hello nlpilgrim,

    I just walked the henro trail and finished it on 21 of may
    I see that you're dutch. Me to, and i live in Den Bosch.
    When you have questions you can come over to my place.

    Because while walking and after walking then you realize how to do it next time.

    Best regards,

    Willy Maas

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    nlpilgrim

    « Reply #3 on: May 29th, 2012, 2:27pm »
    Tnx willy, i might take you up on that offer when im nearing my trip.
    Did you manage alright on yours, im spending my free time this year learning basic japanese hoping that helps.

    Dukkha ill contact you as well, great to hear from a campers perspective.

    This weekend i went out and bought a very nice solo tent, the avior x2 from coleman.
    Tested it for 2 nights in a nature park near here and i like it, plus it only weights 2.5kg.
    Together with a lightweight sleeping mat and bag i should manage just fine, still a young lad after all.

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    dukkha

    « Reply #4 on: Jun 23rd, 2012, 3:46pm »
    Hello again, my son walked the Tokushima segment, and returned recently. He brought a tent but ended up not using it, staying in offered accommodation and under the eaves of local shrines, public amenities and henro huts. He said his biggest challenges were insects at night and the fatigue from never being able to get a good nights sleep. He met lots of weird and wonderful characters, which compared to my 2010 henro, I think him doing Nojuku increased the chance of these meetings. I'm going back to do the Tokushima segment in Winter this year (it will be the start of my 2nd henro)...will be staying in minshuku though, cause I like my hot bath and futon grin

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    nlpilgrim

    « Reply #5 on: Jul 17th, 2012, 08:06am »
    Would you guys use the low cut "a" walking shoes or medium high "a/b" shoes? The low cut seem a let better for longer trips on flat ground, but due to the backpack and the occasional mountain im having doubts.

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    Shikoku Henro Trail

    « Reply #6 on: Jul 18th, 2012, 5:19pm »
    My opinion is that it doesn't matter -- wear what you find the most comfortable. None of the mountain temples have a climb that is steep enough to *require* high or medium high boots. The only thing that really matters is a) comfort and b) good traction for those rainy day climbs on a dirt trail.

    Remember almost all of the walk will be on reasonably level ground... covered by asphalt or cement. sad

    Dave

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    JoostVeeken

    « Reply #7 on: Aug 10th, 2012, 03:49am »
    Hey nlPelgrim,

    I want to walk this trail in March, also my first time and im Dutch.
    I was wandering if u could give me youre Email adress, becouse I am not sure how to prepaire. I do have read almost everything on the site shikokuhenrotrail.com but still.

    greetz

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    JoostV

    « Reply #8 on: Oct 6th, 2012, 03:34am »
    Well i was planning on doing that tongue and I will , thnx matey!

    Daniel? do you walked it alrdy?

    greetz

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    nlpilgrim

    « Reply #9 on: Oct 7th, 2012, 03:55am »
    Hi Joost, my email is in my profile.
    My plans got delayed a bit due to my masters course, ill probably be going in spring or autumn of 2014.

    I've bought some great a/b boots from meindl and tested them for a week in the black forest in germany. The highest mountain there was 1400m, and i did that with a 20kg pack in the middle of summer. This went fine, except for the fact that 20km was the maximum distance i traveled in a day.

    What i have learned however is that pack weight is very important, so im almost tempted to leave my 2.5kg tent at home for the pilgrimage. Would you guys recommend taking it against the insects and for added flexibility?

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    RyanFoster

    « Reply #10 on: Oct 12th, 2012, 2:07pm »
    I often wish I had brought a tent, but am also glad I didn't as I met many nice people at the places I stayed. One thought though is that a tent is well worth it if your trip is during Golden Week as the rooms tend to be all filled. The cost of lodgings was very high, so I tended to go faster than I wanted in order partly to save money.

    One note on shoes, it is possible to completely wear out a pair of shoes such that you will need to plan on buying a new pair somewhere along the way.

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    Kaeru61

    « Reply #11 on: Oct 13th, 2012, 06:15am »
    Hello, I am a first walker too and planned my henro from March 16 til June 1 2013.
    I want to walk it in 2 months and sleep at temples, minshuku or ryokan. But I will go by public transport when a road is very crowded with traffic.
    i keep my backpack as light as possible: 6-7kg. This week I started training on my new hiking boots (B Meindl) with backpack. I walk on asphalt as well as in the dunes and woods around my town (Alkmaar) It works fine, also in the heavy rain yesterday my feet stayed dry and no blisters.
    I ordered the 88 temples guidebook with maps from David Moreton and read a lot about the trail in blogs and diaries of other henro and find good tips there about lodging and what to wear.
    I have been studying Japanese for many years and this will be my forth visit to Japan. i think it is very important to know basic Japanese on this trip. Ki wo tsukete! 気をつけて! Smile

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    dukkha

    « Reply #12 on: Oct 14th, 2012, 03:09am »
    @Kaeru61 sounds like you will be more than prepared...enjoy your henro!!

    dukkha Smile

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    Kaeru61

    « Reply #13 on: Oct 14th, 2012, 12:47pm »
    Thanks! cheesy

    Yes I am prepared! I am 61 and during the henro I hope to get 62. I had a knee injury and need to exercise often.
    Elly

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    Aztique

    « Reply #14 on: Jan 17th, 2013, 03:12am »
    I am surprised to see quite a few dutch future henro here!

    I am losing my job in may, going to costa rica first for 3 weeks. after that i hope to find a temporary job from june - september so i can walk in october!

    If that doesnt work im going to try and find a job from whenever i can till spring 2014. even though lodging is hard to find then. I am a 22 year old female first time walker.

    Not planning on camping, right now i don't like the idea of being out there all alone camping. Though it will probably be quite expensive trying to find lodging every day, i hope i find some free/cheap places

    Would be nice to see other english speaking henro on the road! Smile



    Shikoku Henro Trail
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    Re: First time walker

    Post by Shikoku Henro Trail on Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:43 am

    Originally posted by several members in 2013.
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    Shikoku Henro Trail

    « Reply #15 on: Jan 17th, 2013, 08:38am »
    Aztique,
    What do you mean when you say "even though lodging is hard to find then." when talking about Spring 2014?

    Lodging on the henro trail is never hard to find in the Spring. That's the "main" henro season, so to speak and all the available lodging will be open. In the autumn some of them close for the season, but never in the fall.

    Granted some lodging is closing, but that's because of business reasons, not for seasonal reasons.

    Good luck with your job search.

    Dave

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    Aztique

    « Reply #16 on: Jan 17th, 2013, 12:03pm »
    Really? Wow, that is very good to hear~!

    I actually read quite a few times that lodging is hard to find because there are so many people doing the trail then!!

    I was quite worried that it would be really hard. Since ive never really gone on a trip all by myself, that kind of frightened me. But you saying thats not true, is very assuring smiley Thank you!

    I have been making a list of all the temples + lodgings nearby, from this website and other journals and websites ive come across. I want to meet as many as locals possible and practice my not so very well japanese. I hope I can stay 2,5 months, so i can take my time and spent extra time in cities whenever i want. If i have lots of time (and money) left before my flight, i might take a trip to the japanese alps!

    Reading all these stories is getting my so excited! Even though my trip is still very far away...

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    Shikoku Henro Trail

    « Reply #17 on: Jan 17th, 2013, 2:03pm »
    The lists of lodging in both the English "88 Route Guide" and the Japanese "Hitori Aruku" are both quite comprehensive. You will _occasionally_ find some of the minshuku/ryokan are already full when you call for a reservation, but there will be other places to try. I have never had an issue with lodging. I always find somewhere to sleep.

    Having said that, though, if you are there during Golden Week, be absolutely SURE to reserve for the whole week in advance. During that one week lodging fills up fast.

    My usual practice is to make each night's lodging reservation first thing that morning, on the same day. BUT, I always have 3-4 nights, or more, reservations made in advance as i head into Golden Week. This one week can be tricky because a lot of Japanese come down during the holiday. The rest of the time... don't worry.

    Enjoy your planning and dreaming.

    Dave

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    Aztique

    « Reply #18 on: Jan 18th, 2013, 02:47am »
    Thanks!

    I was also wondering, is it necessary to bring a tent? just in case? And a small sleeping bag? even though im planning on finding minshuku/zenninyado/zenkonyado etc

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    Shikoku Henro Trail

    « Reply #19 on: Jan 18th, 2013, 3:45pm »
    Antique,
    If you are planning to stay in minshuku, etc every night, do NOT bring a tent, sleeping bag, or anything else you don't need. You want your pack to be as light as you can make it and the tent/sleeping bag will just be dead, useless weight.

    If you go in spring you will not encounter problems finding lodging (but be extra cautious during Golden Week). You won't need to carry anything for camping.

    Take/Carry as little as you think you can live with. Then get rid of a little of that before heading to the trail. Your back will thank you.

    Dave

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    JoostV

    « Reply #20 on: Jan 19th, 2013, 05:48am »
    Dave! wich time is the golden week?

    I think I will lose my sleeping bag then, I was planning on taking it along.

    =====

    Shikoku Henro Trail

    « Reply #21 on: Jan 20th, 2013, 11:49am »
    Golden Week is always the end of April through the first week of May. This week expect crowds April 29 - May 6. Just Google "Golden Week Japan" and you'll find out which holidays they string together to get this much time off.

    As i said before, if you are planning to stay in minshuku the rest of the time, there is no reason to carry a sleeping bag. I have never carried one and have never had to sleep outside, in a train station, etc. I have always found a room somewhere. You just have to be careful and plan ahead during this one week. Enter it with a week's worth of reservations if you can. The rest of the time, i make reservations on the same day i need them. Occasionally, the day before simply because public telephones are getting harder to find.

    Remember, if you carry you sleeping bag just for this one week, you have to carry it for the rest of the trip. You want to carry the MINIMUM that you can get by with for the sake of your back and legs. This means the minimum you think you can live with..... then get rid of just a little more. smiley

    Once you start walking, you will be surprised at how little you really need and use from day to day. A change of clothes, a book, bathroom and hygene items, and camera. That's really about it.

    For my next trip, i'm downsizing to a 40L backpack, and am even considering going down to 35L, or so. I'll decide that when i buy it, but the days of my 53L pack are finished.

    Dave

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    dukkha

    « Reply #22 on: Jan 20th, 2013, 12:38pm »
    If you we're thinking to bring the sleeping bag as a back up just in case, I wouldn't bother, as Dave is on the mark about finding accommodation. It may be hard to believe but you really don't need that much stuff. Most veteran Henro I have come across usually carry a really small day pack. The reality is I think most first timers will bring more than they need....and as you walk you will start getting rid of things. So perhaps bring what you want...with the willingness to let go of items along the way. A key part for me in doing Henro is letting go....letting go of unneeded items, unneeded thoughts.

    Stay well, and don't worry,

    Dukkha

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    JoostV

    « Reply #23 on: Jan 21st, 2013, 04:01am »
    Is it needed to make a resevation by phonecall, because I am learning Japanese language but I certainly cant make a phone call in Japanese now.

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    Jukawalker

    « Reply #24 on: Jan 21st, 2013, 05:11am »
    You can ask your host to make the reservation for the following night(s). I'm sure they'll be glad to help a foreigner. Also, some of them will recommend your next lodging based on how much do you want to walk.

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    Kaeru61

    « Reply #25 on: Jan 21st, 2013, 08:58am »
    Joost, look at this website for Japanese useful words and sentences at the henro: http://www.davidmoreton.com/echoes/wordlist.html
    Elly

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    Aztique

    « Reply #26 on: Jan 21st, 2013, 12:07pm »
    the guidebook has alot of useful sentences in it as well smiley plus buying a small pocket language book can help you alot too! i have one of lonely planet, very handy!

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    Kaeru61

    « Reply #27 on: Jan 21st, 2013, 2:00pm »
    I agree with Azteque. And if you have internet connection during the henro with your iPhone/smartphone don't forget the apps Itranslate (free) and Midori ( €7) Totemo benri desu! とても便利です!

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    Shikoku Henro Trail

    « Reply #28 on: Jan 21st, 2013, 3:33pm »
    Jukawalker offers the best solution, IMO. All minshuku owners seem very happy to call ahead for you to make your next night's reservation. You can ask them during dinner, and they can both recommend somewhere to stay and make the phone call for you. I speak Japanese and they have still made the call for me. I don't argue because they seem thrilled to help.

    If you're looking for useful vocabulary and kanji to study before leaving, i also have a couple of lists on the web site. Look in the Other Information/Glossary section for the common vocabulary you will want to know. Look in the Planning/Do I Have To Speak Japanese section for a list of words with their kanji.

    Dave

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    nlpilgrim

    « Reply #29 on: Feb 21st, 2013, 07:37am »
    Nice to see other dutch pilgrims here indeed. On the topic of Japanese study.
    Since my current planning is to do the trip in the fall of 2014 i have quite some time to prepare.
    In my opinion learning at least some basic conversational Japanese should increase the pleasure of interacting with the locals.

    I'd recommend the "Japanese for busy people" book, often used in several courses.
    I used this to learn the basic kana and grammar.
    And for the vocabulary i honestly just depend on Japanese movies, tv series and audiobooks.
    But this is due to me being very bad at learning from books.



    Shikoku Henro Trail
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    Re: First time walker

    Post by Shikoku Henro Trail on Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:46 am

    Originally posted by several members in 2013 and 2014.
    -----

    nlpilgrim

    « Reply #30 on: Mar 24th, 2013, 1:30pm »
    Since the trip itself is still far away im keeping it interesting by piece-wise collecting my future gear.
    Does anyone know the availability of screw on gas cartridges on the island?
    Im still doubting whether or not to take a cooking set, i will be going camping only so having a good breakfast is pretty important.

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    Salix

    « Reply #31 on: Jul 9th, 2013, 1:58pm »
    Hi!
    Here another Dutch person smiley I'm planning on doing the walk this spring together with a friend. It sounds like looking for lodgings is a lot of work! I will bring my tent though.

    I wonder if it'll be a good idea to buy some small binoculars. (I'm a biology student, so I like bringing them, but it might be too heavy)

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    Salix

    « Reply #32 on: Jul 9th, 2013, 2:05pm »
    on Mar 24th, 2013, 1:30pm, nlpilgrim wrote:
    Since the trip itself is still far away im keeping it interesting by piece-wise collecting my future gear.
    Does anyone know the availability of screw on gas cartridges on the island?
    Im still doubting whether or not to take a cooking set, i will be going camping only so having a good breakfast is pretty important.



    The cheapest an lightest solution I found is buying the inside burner of a tangria for about 10 euro (it burns alcohol or spiritus) and then make something to put your pans on (inspired by the hobo stoves) you could even find some stones whenever you want to cook to place your pan on.

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    nlpilgrim

    « Reply #33 on: Mar 18th, 2014, 05:52am »
    A little update, with some delay i'm finally going.
    Flying out 12 september 2014 and returning around 3 november.

    I'm still in doubt about whether to bring my tent along, this would push me over the 10kg mark i set for myself for my backpack. So i might just go with a poncho/tarp.

    If anyone is on the trail around the same time, send me a PM.

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    cpetersky

    « Reply #34 on: Mar 22nd, 2014, 04:54am »
    on Jan 18th, 2013, 3:45pm, Shikoku Henro Trail wrote:
    Antique,
    If you are planning to stay in minshuku, etc every night, do NOT bring a tent, sleeping bag, or anything else you don't need. You want your pack to be as light as you can make it and the tent/sleeping bag will just be dead, useless weight.

    Take/Carry as little as you think you can live with. Then get rid of a little of that before heading to the trail. Your back will thank you.



    I agree with this 100% If you are only planning to walk, only planning to visit temples and not do other things (like sightsee), and you are planning to stay at little inns and whatnot, I would not take a tent, a sleeping bag, or anything like that.

    Here is how I would think about it. Imagine that you are going to leave the bulk of your things in the Matsuyama train station coin locker. You are just going to take the bus up to temple 44, hike in the mountains to temple 45, and stay at the really nice (but simple) inn there. So, all you will need is a change of clothes, all your temple gear (like candles, nokyu book, etc.), and your gnarly outwear, because T45 is up in the mountains, and it will be a little brisk up there.

    Whatever it is that you put your bag for your little trek up to 44 and 45? This is what you should take with you, period, if you are doing a walking only trip. A change of clothes, your outwear, your temple gear, your guide book.

    I see walking-only pilgrims here, and they have what I would call a day-and-a-half pack. Just enough for a lunch, and change of clothes. No tent, no sleeping bag, no extra socks, none of that.

    I am doing a lot more public transportation than I originally thought, and I still feel every ounce. I sent a package home, and some things I put in the free bin at a guest house. You do not need to take your vitamins. They weigh a ton. You do not need to take an extra pair of shoes. All these sorts of things are heavy. Just take the absolute bare necessities. If you are sitting at home and thinking, "should I take this?" the answer is probably, "no".

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    cpetersky

    « Reply #35 on: Mar 22nd, 2014, 4:38pm »
    on Jan 20th, 2013, 12:38pm, dukkha wrote:
    If you we're thinking to bring the sleeping bag as a back up just in case, I wouldn't bother, as Dave is on the mark about finding accommodation.


    I am currently here on Shikoku during a holiday weekend, which started on Friday. I know it is not as bad as Golden Week, but still, it is a busy travel time.

    We were going to stay another night at Sen Guesthouse in Matsuyama (recommended), but because it was not only the holiday weekend, but a festival was going on in Matsuyama, celebrating the 120th anniversary of the Dogo Onzen, it was booked. The tourist office told me everything was booked. I called a bunch of places, and "ippai" was the answer at all of them. We were despairing that we'd have to sleep in the station, when I called a minshuku just opposite Temple 53, which was the last temple we planned to visit that day. Of course they had room for us! I would also recommend this place, as they are really oriented towards serving henro.

    Then, the next day, we knew we'd be in Imabari. Again, holiday weekend, I called and called, and everything was full. I was in total despair, and called a place out of an advertising flyer for henro that said it was near Temple 59. Yeah, near 59 if you're driving. But no worries, I figured we would take the train there. Better than sleeping in the station.

    Temple 58 is on top of a big hill, and it took us longer to get up there (and down) than we originally estimated, so we were running a bit late. I called the place "near 59". It was like they had never heard of my reservation. And they had no room for us.

    OK, so you can imagine. Holiday weekend. Everything is booked solid. It's now 5 PM, our feet are, as usually, falling off, and we have no place to stay.

    I open up the guide book for the pages that show 58 and 59, and there is just one place to stay, a BH, on the entire spread of two pages, and it's sort of on the way between the two. Like, a half a km off the henro path.

    I call the hotel, and sure, no problem. They have a twin room for us. 4500 yen a person, including breakfast. Western beds and private bath. And a computer in the lobby, which I am currently using. Not bad at all. A lot better than the place that seemed to forget our reservation down the railway line.

    My walking companion and I have a little saying, "Let the pilgrimage unfold as it needs to". Yes, you should do lots of prep and planning. But sometimes the best laid plans go astray. So far, we seem to be making it all right when they do.

    For all you travelling the pilgrim path during Golden Week, I wish you too, a successful unfolding.

    =====

    Shikoku Henro Trail

    « Reply #36 on: Mar 23rd, 2014, 09:07am »
    "Let the pilgrimage unfold as it needs to".

    A beautiful way to approach the trail! Wonderful.


    I've said it on the web site (i think) and i tell everyone who personally emails me ..... while i make reservations day by day when on the trail, during Golden Week i make reservations for between 4 days and a whole week in advance. And, i try and make them the week before Golden Week starts.

    Lodging will get hectic during that week!! Plan accordingly.

    Dave



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    Re: First time walker

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