This was our second full day of our ‘workation‘, so to get this route done and dusted by as close to 9am as possible, it was another early 3am wake-up, to be on the water by 5am. First on the agenda was to lock the bikes up at the take-out carpark.
It was a classic Nemuro foggy morning.
Then we headed on to the put-in location along the forestry road. The adventure wagon was in its element.
We’d intended to put in at a bridge over the Onnebetsu River, but about 500m before the bridge, there was a chain across the road, with a sign saying the road was closed due to washouts. This only left one other option, about 1km back along the gravel road to a small bridge over a minor creek. The put in was a bit awkward and steep, down to a muddy creekbed, but we made it happen. The biggest challenge was not being driven mad by the no-see-ums. Haidee was well covered up, including gloves, but my wrists and hands got a beating. It took two weeks before the itchy welts subsided – amazing that such small creatures can cause such discomfort.
Once we were on the water, I was free from the scourge of the no-see-ums, and we were taken aback at the pre-historic feeling of the forest around us. Haidee spotted a rare green pigeon and we spent some time watching it bathed in morning sunlight.
Once we were at the Onnebetsu River proper, we opted to paddle upstream to the bridge where we were supposed to have put in. The water was mirror-smooth, reflecting the surrounding Sakhalin spruce forests.
At the bridge we turned around. Aware that we were chasing a receding tide, we changed gears into our quick paddle cadence, and started making good headway down the river into the lake. Along the lakeshore, there were eagles, cranes, kingfishers….
As we approached the northern end of the lake, we could really sense the pull of the low tide. As we started across the main channel, buoys were straining towards the sea, pulled taught with a strong current. Even when we were not paddling we were doing 8km/h according to my GPS. We kept the pressure on the paddles and tried to get across as soon as we could. It was foggy, and we hoped there weren’t any fishing boats coming up the channel. Haidee would later remark at a fishing boat roaring by once we’d got off the water. The bow of the boat was high in the air, the fisherman sat at the back. There was no way he’d see a little craft like us in the murk.
We made it safely across in the end, stashed the canoe, and started the very pleasant 6km bike ride back to the car. All in all a very multi-sport sort of a morning…all before work.