The theme of early mornings continued this morning, as we were up and away from the campsite by 4:30am. The big mission for the morning was to catch the 6:30am ferry from Okushiri Port back to the Hokkaido mainland at Esashi. This meant that the first hour of cycling was mostly in darkness, as the sky to the east gradually grew lighter.
We pleasantly surprised that we happened to be cycling past Okushiri’s biggest tourist attraction – the ‘pothandle’ rock – just as the sun was peeking over the mainland.
We only enjoyed the view for a few moments before moving on, safely catching the ferry with time to spare. We slept pretty soundly on the way back over the mainland, and arrived off the ferry to a hot, sweltering day. We got moving straight away, knowing that we had a fairly long day ahead of us, already starting out late from the ferry terminal at around 10am.
By lunch time we had made our way around the large Esashi Bay area, and stopped in to the michi-no-eki road stop area. This particular road stop restaurant must have some of the best views of any roadstop in Hokkaido…and we had the place to ourselves for lunch.
On this trip, we’re riding our folding bikes. They ride really well on paved roads. The real benefit for us is the ease at which we can throw them onto trains to get to and from starting/ending points of a cycle tour. When taking bikes on the train in Japan, they need to be dismantled slightly, and covered with a bike bag or box. Folding bikes are much less hassle than a full sized bike. Haidee is on her Bike Friday Silk (Gated belt drive and 8-speed internal gear hub), and I am on my Tern (11-speed internal gear hub).
The rest of the day was a mixture of heat, hills, and beautiful coastline. Being our first full day on the bikes after a rather leisurely meander around Okushiri Island, however, we were feeling the distance.
We rolled into Matsumae Town just on dusk, and headed straight for the closest onsen. With no campground in the town, we planned to have an onsen, eat dinner, and find a park to camp in for the night. All three parts of that plan went well in the end, but the park we ended up camping in was a stiff climb up a hill to the northern reaches of the town…not such a great choice when we had clothes at a coin laundry that we had to go back to pick up later on…we climbed that hill far too many times.