Lake Shikotsu - The fifth step ... the length of Japan. - CycleBlaze

August 29, 2018

Lake Shikotsu

After vainly waiting for the tent to dry after last night's light rain we set off on what we thought was the best route to Lake Shikotsu (based on what various apps in my cellphone had suggested).  After stocking up with grub (there are no konbinis at the lake) we turned southwards on the recommended road only to find it ended at a military base whose grounds extended eastwards and south towards the lake itself.  After a friendly, if not intelligible, conversation with the soldiers manning the gate (there was no common language involved) we realized we would have to go all the way to Chitose before we could turn down to the lake.  Thank goodness we had decided to cut yesterday shorty because it would have been impossible to reach the lake before nightfall.

So we turned back to the main road between Eniwa and Chitose and struggled into the string easterly wind on a busy road for an extra fifteen kilometers.  Then we turned southards to the lake and onto a glorious cycle path leading gently upwards through some beautiful natural forest.  The climb took us up almost two hundred and fifty meters but the gradient was very gentle.  Hokkaido is BIG Brown Bear country and the were numerous signs warning us of the possible dangers.

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As we crested the ridge at the edge of the caldera the roads became a bit confusing and, after back tracking for a kilometer after an intersection, we chose to take the main road leading to the spa hotels on the lake because we wanted to get to an Onsen before getting to the campsite.  This lead us through a short but steep valley and left us wondering how sweaty we would be by the time we set up camnp after our visit to an Onsen.

The visitors area on the lake's edge is very busy and commercialized but it has an excellent visitors centre.  From here we were directed to an Onsen on our way back to the Morappusan canmpsite on the lake's edge further south.  But first we had an excellent rice bowl with grilled mutton - mutton twice in three days!  And then off to the Onsen.

The road southwards from the Onsen lead us to thr campsite via first a quiet side road followed by a bit of the main road from where we turned off on a gravel road and finally a great cycle path down to the campsite, avoiding the steep valley completely.  Camping isn't that cheap - two thousand Yen for the two of us - but is on a beautiful beach on the lake.

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All in all, today has been a great day for cycling with no real rain to speak of.

There is another cycle tourist staying here, a chap called Hiro from Chiba prefecture near Tokyo, who came over and chatted to us while we were setting up.  He spent many years studying in the USA so his was the best English we have heard since we have been in Japan.  Cycle touring is a passion of his and he is doing a few days around southern Hokkaido before starting a stint of lecturing at the university in Sapporo.

Then is was supper of konbini sandwhiches and bed.

Today's ride: 51 km (32 miles)
Total: 1,062 km (660 miles)

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