We did the climb from Chubetsu Lake to Asahidake Ropeway as part of Monbell’s Asahidake Sea to Summit event in August 2019. We’d heard that the event wasn’t a race, but after posting a pretty good time on the lake in our Canadian canoe, we were feeling confident we’d fly up the mountain too.
Reality soon hit, however, as we were passed one by one by people who had started the paddling section much later than us. It seemed we were the only ones not on sleek lightweight road bikes. Except perhaps the family on the e-bikes – their 12 year old kid flew past us about as nonchalantly as one could when ‘cycling’ up a 750m mountain climb. We were on our folding touring bikes though, so we settled in for a slow slog up the mountain in we foggy conditions. At least it wasn’t raining, we thought.
Along the way, we heard bells ringing. After a few confusing moments, we realized they were coming from the river below the bridge we were on. We took a look over the railing, and far below us were two fishermen wandering along a small stream, stopping every now and then to cast a line into a small pool. The bells they were wearing were, of course, bear bells. The Daisetsuzan Range is a prime habitat for the Hokkaido brown bear.
In a rather cruel twist of fate, after we’d done the hiking portion of the Sea to Summit event (post here), as per race rules we weren’t allowed to cycle back down. Safety first, so we got a motorized shuttle back down the mountain. But not before we’d checked out the brand new Asahidake Visitor’s Center – a beautiful wooden structure with great hiking and national park information.
As mentioned above in the route guide, we’ve cycled a number of times in the Higashikawa area. In the lower plains near Higashikawa, we’ve enjoyed gorgeous rice-fields, quite unique to this part of Hokkaido. We’ve cycled on stop-bank cycle paths along rivers, completely separate from traffic. This trip to Higashikawa this time around was at the request of Higashikawa Town itself, but I can see us back there again some time to explore some more of its nooks and crannies.