With our university lectures all moved online for the first semester of 2020, Haidee and I decided to make the most of the rather unique situation to document some far-from-home canoe routes out east in Hokkaido. The first on the list was Bekanbeushi River and the Bekanbeushi Wetlands. We arrived at the put in at around 8am, and were pleasantly surprised at the very well made canoe port. The local canoeists must have pulled together well to have such a well mapped, signed, and set up canoe route.
After dropping off the canoe, we made the 10km drive down-river to the water-foul information center. The staff at the info center advised us to call Sakura Hire Taxi, and just 10 minutes later we were in a taxi returning back upstream to the put-in.
It was 10:30am by the time we actually got the canoe in the water. With only 9km or so to paddle, we decided to paddle upstream for a bit to see what there was to see. It was a hot day, but the wetland river was shrouded in tall trees, giving plenty of shade.
We paddled for about 1km upstream before turning around, reveling in the sudden boost in speed.
From what we’d read about the river, we were expecting great masses of wildlife along the way. Perhaps it was the time of day, or perhaps the time of year, but the river was surprisingly quiet. We saw a couple of iridescent blue kingfishers and a white-tailed eagle, and that was about it. Given the right season, apparently paddlers can see red-crested cranes with their young along this river.
About half way through the route, the wind picked up. It was a headwind. We zipped up the spraydeck and plodded on.
As we pulled up at the lower canoe port, I was feeling relatively ambivalent about the river. Maybe it was the headwind that had sapped my spirits. Haidee, being the avid birdwatcher she is, was more upbeat. “We saw kingfishers and stalks and an eagle,” she gushed. “It was a great paddle!”
It was now mid-afternoon, and we still had a long drive ahead of us to get to Lake Furen – our destination for the next five days. We would base ourselves at a cabin on the lake where we could deliver our online lectures and take part in online meetings during the day, and paddle in the early mornings and evenings.