Sakkuru to Hamatonbetsu
Distance: 56 miles
Total Distance: 2117 miles

Another day spent avoiding mosquitoes! We woke up early from the hot sun beating down on our tent and packed up pretty quickly, spurred on by a cloud of mosquitoes that swarmed as soon as we stepped outside. We had a quick breakfast inside the tent, but stopped again in the small town of Otoineppu a few miles down the road. Despite heat, riding in Hokkaido in the early mornings has been one of the best parts of the past few weeks. Very little traffic, fresh air, and lots of things to look at as we ride along.


Signpost near Otoineppu

A little past Otoineppu, we turned off towards the coast on a small prefectural road. There were a few very small towns along the way, and some nice rolling hills with little traffic. After a quick Seicomart lunch, we had a short but tough climb up to a pass with a very narrow tunnel. The slope was never too steep, but the headwind was incredibly strong! Vicky’s new strategy for dealing with tunnels is to charge through as quickly as possible–we’ve found that this works much better in Hokkaido where traffic is generally lighter and we are less likely to encounter cars anyway. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for my clothing, as I was riding behind her and got sprayed with mud from her back tires!


45 degrees north latitude!

After the pass, we had a nice gradual downhill to Esashi where we turned north and road along the coast. The scenery is different on this side of Hokkaido: lots of cliffs and rocky outcrops and very different vegetation–bushes and short bamboo instead of larger trees. We stopped to take plenty of pictures along the way but still made good time; we weren’t too worried as we had all afternoon to cover about 20 miles. We were even helped by a tailwind that came up past one small cape which carried us all the way into Hamatonbetsu.


Back on the coast


Lots of picture breaks along this barren but beautiful coastline


The vegetation along the coast hints at very harsh winters

After a little shopping in town we found the campground next to an onsen on the shore of Lake Kucharo. We pitched our tent and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the bath. After we had cleaned up, we treated ourselves to dinner in the onsen restaurant and then spent the rest of the evening walking along the lake and relaxing in the tent.


Working on the journal at Lake Kucharo