Chris was up here in Hokkaido with his family this time around, so we were keen to get everyone out onto the canoes, for the canoes’ maiden voyage no less! The Bibi River is perfect for this sort of family pottering, so we bundled everyone up into the cars and headed off along the busy Route 36, turning off onto the side road, and getting ourselves surrounded by quiet nature at the put in location. Olivia and Will were buzzing with excitement, and Deb seemed to be looking forward to the prospect of an easy float down a mellow river.
Despite me having done the route before (about five years ago), it became apparent very quickly, however, that I’d either a) forgotten how narrow and grassy the route was, or b) the route had become much more grassy since I’d done it.
After about an hour of very narrow winding through long grass, Deb remarked “I think I’ve paddled more grass than water so far.” Ever the optimist, Chris suggested this was “the 4WD canoe route”.
However, with Captain Will at the helm, we managed to find a way through the wilds, with not too much consternation…apart from this section taking a good hour or so longer than we’d anticipated. As we bashed our way along the slowly but surely widening waterway, the kids were busy trying to identify the airlines of the planes taking off from the airport nearby.
Chris got some good snaps on his phone of the chaos, below.
We finally emerged to the wider section of the river, just before the short portage around some fishing nets. We were cautiously hopeful that we’d be able to just paddle around them, but no luck. We had to all get out and haul the boats up out of the water.
With the short portage out of the way, and Captain Will on my boat replaced by Captain Olivia, we carried on our merry way down the river. It wasn’t far after the fishing nets that we came upon a nesting great whooper swan. Just visible through a gap in the grass, it was an amazing, rare sight to see.
Beyond the fishing nets it was quintessential Bibi River Canoeing. This is the river that most people come to canoe down. Wide, easy-going, and with just enough flow to give paddlers a boost.
Nearing the end of the route, I handed Captain Olivia my camera to take a few shots. She captured the surrounding scenes well, and I was happy to be left in charge of paddling, rather than juggling paddling and taking photos.
All good things must come to and end, and with flights to catch and hotels to book into (as well as hungry children to feed), today’s team was happy enough to see the end of the route. It had been a good solid hour or two longer than we’d anticipated due to the exciting ‘4WD canoe grass paddling’ we’d done earlier in the route. We pulled the canoes up, strapped them to the roof of Chris’s car, and headed back into Chitose. Dinner was at the cheap and cheerful udon and tempura place in the middle of town (Marugame Seimen, here).