Sunday morning rolled around and after a lazy morning and conversations with everyone we packed up and started making our way out of town. We decided to make a few stops along the way, besides stopping for lunch.
Our first stop was at Multnomah Falls. If you haven't been here, I highly suggest is if you are driving through the area, even if just for a few minutes. We made our way to see the falls, and get some pictures, and then we proceeded to hike to the top. There were signs along the way stating "Switchback: 1 of 11" and so on, all the way to the top of the falls. It rained on us the entire time, and not just a little sprinkle but full-on drops of water, so we were all pretty soaked, but still we made our way up the mountain, stopping to take pictures here and there. The entire climb was a little over a mile of winding trail to a small overlook. A group of us, at about switchback 7, decided to run the rest of the way up. The home stretch, as I called it, and we chanted on the way (counting to keep time in Japanese). What an experience!
We wandered around the top of the falls for a while, taking pictures and video, and then Sensei decided to take a group of us and jog back down the mountain to the bottom again. That was quite an experience! The group of us jogging down, chanting the whole way, enjoying the day and the rain and the exercise. I jokingly mentioned that times like these are why our team is so strong. Where other teams go to sight-see, we go to sight-see AND train!
The rest of the trip was very relaxed, as most people were tired from the night before. I passed the time by talking with the people in our van, listening to music, and thinking a lot about what worked and what I need to work on from the taikai. Lunch and downtime in The Dalles, some random stops for breaks, and sword fighting with whatever we could get our hands on in Wal-Mart in the Tri-cities filled out the day, and we rolled back into Spokane at around 9pm Sunday night. We unloaded our stuff and had our goodbyes before heading our separate ways. All in all, our trip was a great success, everyone did really well in the taikai, and I far exceeded my own expectations for myself. I'm looking forward to another opportunity to gather with my fellow kenshi, whether it be shinsa (grading), taikai (tournament), or our upcoming summer camp. I know that I've learned a lot this weekend, and formed a stronger bond with all of my Spokane teammates, and I hope to keep that energy going throughout my training here at home.