I’m in the car park of Tokachi-dake Onsen roughly 1,000m above where I started today. I became a brief talking point when I met three girls leaving the onsen building and was polite enough to stand back and let them pass by saying “dozo” in the Japanese way. I was having trouble talking because of my water shortage but got through the basic introductions and left them saying “good times” as I ducked inside for a few drinks.
From the graveyard I had camped beside it was only a few hundred meters to the Lavender Forest of Furano. A much better camping spot but the lavender wasn’t at its best yet. By 8am it was oppressively hot and I spent the next few hours staggering along the road side awaiting the next passing bus to create even the slightest breeze. At Bestom I stocked up on food for the five-day mountain trail ahead of me. Now my bag looks monstrous. Much like it did when Vortex called it “Ernie the Enormous”. I could not have walked this far this fast if I had been lugging so much food around.
I passed an amazing ice-cream cafe today and now passing it seems staggeringly dumb. It served a dessert it called “Santa Claus’ Beard” which consisted of half a melon (a cantaloup for Americans) with the seeds removed and replaced by a mountain of soft-serve ice-cream. If I can gather the ingredients in Wakkanai I think I have discovered my celebratory dinner!
Onwards and upwards until I needed a rest. The mountains were hidden in haze until I was within about 10km of them. Even as just a line defining ground from sky I was impressed. So impressed that I lay down in the grass beside the road and took my first proper siesta in a long time. It was only half and hour but in those 30 mins I did as little as I could and as I came around and got ready to walk again I really felt like it was the best use of my time.
And then I came to this car park. I have wandered up the trail a bit, but there’s nowhere to put up a tent so I’ve anchored myself with big rocks on the tarmac. There are at least 5 others here. Two mini-vans arrived and have stayed silent, a third contains three Japanese of at least 50 years old. They’ve come down the hill today and gave me a water report. When I said I was leaving early they mentioned sunrise which I asked for in Japanese. It happens to be the name of a park I saw today. Unfortunately not in bloom yet, but two weeks from now it should be beautiful.
Word of the day: hinode = sunrise
p.s. Toughest conversation of the day: I asked the little old lady at the onsen how much it was, for one night.
“No, tonight I have a tent. But later I will return”
“???????” Much rapid fire Japanese that I didn’t understand, so she called in her daughter
“how much is one night?”
“No, tonight I have a tent. Maybe later I will return”
“Tonight we are full”
“Ahhh. But how much is one night?”
That went on far too long, but eventually I managed to get the price out of them, ¥10,000 for one, or ¥9,000 each for two.
Distance today: 43 km