We woke up early, around 5am, to get ready to tackle today’s big challenge: crossing the Shikotsu-Toya national park from the North to Uchiura bay in the South. It was another long day and we were both a bit unsure and still shaken by our experience the day before.
Without much sleep we started reviewing our plan and the flaws started to become incredibly apparent. First and foremost, our main means of contact and information gathering, Ivo’s mobile phone with the data package, was not working since the previous day. Adding to this the bad weather continued to assault the region making the occurrence of landslides and us being trapped by a storm a bit too likely. Another problem is that there are not many contact points with civilization inside the park meaning we would be basically on our own and, finally, when thinking about contingency plans we were reminded that wild camping was not generally a good idea as we would be clearly inside bear territory.
All of the above together with the look on the faces of the hotel staff when told of our plan led us to what was, undoubtedly, the longest and hardest team meeting so far. Our limited time does not allow many divergences from the plan leaving us with two options: cycle it or catch the train. The discussion was long and painful because even though not going was the rational choice, none of us wanted to let go of the idea of cycling every inch of the way on our way from north to south. After some time we decided that we would take the train no matter how frustrated we felt for failing one of our goals already in the forth day. We believe that was the reasonable thing to do even though the park was one of the expected highlights of our trip.
We went to Sapporo main station, bought our tickets and started packing our bikes as demanded by the Japan Railways’ staff. As we waited for our train Ivo started taking pictures of the people around. One particular old man seemed to represent our feelings perfectly.
The trip was calm despite not having a single place where to put a bicycle bag. Nevertheless, in our wagon alone there were five bikes. We didn’t talk much. We were using that time to rest and ruminate on what had just happen, its meaning for our trip and whether it had been the wisest decision. We finally arrived at the bay, assembled the bikes and headed to Oshamambe’s camping ground. We still hadn’t properly cleared our minds and doubts were still lurking everywhere but at least the campsite was beautiful.