Not So Wild Camping Hokkaido
After a less than fully restful night of wild-camping (where we woke several times to the barking of nearby foxes and noise of marauding crows), we packed up the tent and set out for the nearest 7-Eleven. We’ve sung the praises of the convenience store here previously, but I don’t think that I ever appreciated one as much as I did that morning. Clean bathrooms! Warm food! Fast Wi-Fi! No bugs! It was everything two tired campers could want.
We grabbed second breakfast and sat on the curb outside to enjoy some rectangle time (otherwise known as staring at one’s phone).
By the time we finally left the comforts of the 7-Eleven, we were riding the short distance to Nakashibetsu (60 km/ 37 mi) to beat the rain. The forecast called for intense afternoon storms, and we didn’t want to set up camp in the rain (or show up at the camp wet and unable to dry out).
We were especially worried about the rain because we weren’t prepared for just how cold it would be in Hokkaido. The weather further south in Japan had been balmy, even in May. But here we were – in June – wearing every stitch of clothing that we had brought. That’s the good thing about cycling though – it is pretty effective at keeping you warm, as long as you stay dry and keep pedaling.
With fingers crossed that there wouldn’t be another inexplicable campground closure, we rolled up to Nakashibetsu-cho Park Campground. The campground keeper seemed slightly puzzled as to why we were there and reluctant to have us set up a tent (in the ample and empty tent space). But he was perfectly happy to rent us a cabin, and with the wind and rain fast approaching, we didn’t mind spending 2100 Yen (~$17) for walls and a roof.
Short riding days mean plenty of downtime, but there isn’t too much to see/do in Nakashibetsu – at least nothing that I was willing to brave the rain for. Instead, we had a snack and a drink in our cozy cabin and then undertook some important work: bike maintenance (for Dmitry) and catching up on the Bachelorette (for me).
With the afternoon rain storms out of the way, we rode to Nakashibetsu’s local onsen – a beautiful hot spring bath with inside and outdoor pools. We had visited outdoor onsen previously, but this was my first time enjoying the hot spring when the air was cold and crisp. It was definitely worth braving the cold and foggy evening.
We slept soundly and smugly after our convenience store dinner, hearing the rain pounding on the cabin roof and knowing that we’d be able to set out warm and dry in the morning.