I think we managed the best weather of the trip so far today. We started out this morning in cold and cloudy weather but by the time we reached our destination of Rausu in the Shiretoko world heritage park, the sky was blue and the sun even had a touch of warmth to it.
I think I must be smelling strongly of sulphur at the moment – we’ve stayed the last few nights at hotels with onsen and we’ve been bathing a lot. Last night’s hotel had an outdoor bath and it was lovely lying in the warm water with cool air on my face. I got up early this morning and had another bath so I was nice and warm before heading out to face the cold.
We set off together, with our first stop the konbini just up the road, to stock up on food to eat during the trip and have a nice, hot can of coffee. There was quite a headwind this morning but we didn’t have far to go today – just under 50km. We rode together for about half of the trip until hills and stopping to take photos separated us.
The scenery got increasingly more interesting as we got closer to Rausu, with mountains on our left and the ocean on our right. We passed through a string of fishing villages where today’s job seemed to be working on the nets. Everywhere there were people sorting out or fixing nets.
The three of us got to Rausu by one o’clock and wandered in to the town’s michi no eki. Kaz and I had stopped to snack along the way but Damian was famished so he went straight to the snack bar section and got a bite to eat and a cup of coffee. While he was there, the man running the seafood section gave me and Kazuko some free samples of his crab and sea urchin. The crab was deliciously sweet and tender and the sea urchin was creamy. When it’s fresh, sea urchin is absolutely delicious. The man from the shop suggested we have lunch at a restaurant just up the road that served seafood that he supplied. His seafood was as fresh as it comes, so we decided to go there for lunch. Kazuko had ikura-don – salmon roe on a bed of rice – and I had the same but with half and half salmon roe and sea urchin. You may not like the look of it in the photos below but let me assure you, it was quite wonderful. Damian was in a mood for raw fish and had himself a big plate of sashimi with a bit of everything on it. We all walked out pretty happy.
Damian decided to spend the afternoon inspecting his gear shifter, which has been playing up, and waiting to check in at our hotel for tonight, while Kazuko and I headed off up the road to look at a cave which is said to contain a kind of glow-in-the-dark moss. Kaz remembered the cave from a trip here when she was a girl. Unfortunately, we were in for a disappointment as the cave has been closed due to fear of rocks falling from above. We were able to walk up a protected side entrance to a smaller cave but the moss didn’t seem to be glowing today and all we got was a peek at a slightly shabby looking cave.
We road around for a bit more, finding a look out point with a nice, steep climb leading up to it – my Garmin told me the gradient was 15-20 per cent for much of the way up. Kazuko walked, not because it was steep but because she has a sore knee.
Tomorrow we have to cross the mountains that separate us from the other side of the peninsula. When we headed out this morning, we were concerned because the mountain road was closed and thought we would have to ride back around to get to the other side. However, we have since learned that the road is closed at night as it gets too icy but is usually opened up again by 10am or noon. This means we get to dally in the morning for a change while we wait for the road to open. It’s 16km of climbing followed by 16km of descending and should make for a fun day’s riding.
I’m experimenting with uploading photos using my iphone today and it seems to have worked, although the order seems to have been slightly mixed up.