Inawashiro Overnight Trip

Some friends organised a camping trip to Lake Inawashiro, and we decided to go there by bike. There’s no way to avoid the range of hills between our home and the campsite, but luckily our friends offered to take all of our camping and cooking gear in their car, which made our ride much easier.

The rice fields are planted, and the first shoots are starting to grow.

The rice fields are planted, and the first shoots are starting to grow.

"The next seven km has quite a lot of climbing." "No problem."

“The next seven km has quite a lot of climbing.”
“No problem.”

The lake is on the other side of those hills.

The lake is on the other side of those hills.

We left home on a familiar road, past the Culture Park and towards Naganuma. At the Laurel Valley golf course, we turned on to local route 67, and began to climb. The road narrowed as we pushed on uphill into the forest, and soon it became barely wide enough for a single vehicle to pass. It grew steeper and steeper still, and before long we’d worked through our gears, and were exhausted. We stopped and rested, then started again.

The road became steeper as we climbed the hill.

The road became steeper as we climbed the hill.

The road was narrow, and quiet. We only met a handful of vehicles as we pushed on through the woods.

The road was narrow, and quiet. We only met a handful of vehicles as we pushed on through the woods.

The forest on the west side of the hill had ferns amongst the evergreens.

The forest on the west side of the hill had ferns amongst the evergreens.

David is probably still a little heavy for this top.

David is probably still a little heavy for this top.

The twisting course of our route and the high trees made it difficult to get any sense of progress towards the top of the pass, so we relied on the speedometer to judge how far we had to travel. Eventually, the gradient defeated us, and we decided to get off and push our bikes over the final kilometre or two. The downhill route was full of blind corners, so our descent was measured and cautious. We broke out of the forest, to a stunning view of Mt Bandai in the distance, and a long straight road ahead of us.

Mt Bandai in the distance, along a glorious straight downhill road.

Mt Bandai in the distance, along a glorious straight downhill road.

There's still snow on the top of Mt Bandai.

There’s still snow on the top of Mt Bandai.

The hill we'd climbed over is in the background. With its gradient of 7% over 7km, it was probably a category 2 or 3 climb.

The hill we’d climbed over is in the background. With its gradient of 7% over 7km, it was probably a category 2 or 3 climb.

Through the small town towards the lakeside.

Through the small town towards the lakeside.

We camped on the south-east shore of the lake, in what seemed to be a semi-official but entirely free of charge campsite. There were toilet facilities, a dishwashing and grilling block, and a big parking area. But there was no office, no signpost, and nobody collecting camping fees. A family with a huge frame tent were set up in the woods, and not far from them were a group of younger people with small dome tents. We chose a quiet spot where the grass of the woods merged with the sand of the beach and set up our tents.

Our tents, at the edge of the grass and the sandy beach.

Our tents, at the edge of the grass and the sandy beach.

Eric grilling alongside Mt Bandai and Lake Inawashiro.

Eric grilling alongside Mt Bandai and Lake Inawashiro.

Bikes, tents, beautiful scenery: it's why we do what we do.

Bikes, tents, beautiful scenery: it’s why we do what we do.

Our barbecue was a feast: spiced belly pork; a whole chicken, spatchcocked, Jamacian jerk style; gourmet sausages; tender beef steak; garlic prawn and chorizo skewers; whole mackerel; langoustines. We played cards and drank beer as the sun went down.

Mist rolled across the lake at dawn, hiding the mountain from us.

Mist rolled across the lake at dawn, hiding the mountain from us.

The red buttons are hot drinks, the blue buttons are cold drinks. Let's have a coffee!

The red buttons are hot drinks, the blue buttons are cold drinks. Let’s have a coffee!

Our campsite was at the 5 o'clock position on the lake.

Our campsite was at the 5 o’clock position on the lake.

The next day we decided to go home a different way, so as to get to know two routes through the hills. We took local route 6, which is more direct, but goes through a long-ish tunnel. We climbed gently from the lakeside, stopping a vending machine for a hot coffee, and soon arrived at the start of the tunnel. A narrow pavement meant we pushed our bikes the full 1365m of its length. Once we’d cleared the tunnel, it was downhill all the way home. We stopped for sandwiches made from barbecue leftovers, and let gravity guide us back to our front door.

The tunnel took us through, rather than over, the hills.

The tunnel took us through, rather than over, the hills.

Tunnels often have decorative metalwork at the entrances and exits. Can motorists see them, or are they going too fast?

Tunnels often have decorative metalwork at the entrances and exits. Can motorists see them, or are they going too fast?

The metalwork boats on this tunnel wall show that the lake is on the other side.

The metalwork boats on this tunnel wall show that the lake is on the other side.

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One thought on “Inawashiro Overnight Trip

  1. […] We went camping with friends by the shore of Lake Inawashiro. Carys and Eric got married this year, having met in 2011 when she arrived as part of the same JET cohort as me. The riverside barbecue that they’d organised to celebrate their wedding took place a week before our camping trip, and whilst that was a nice enough affair, the newlyweds were kept busy with well-wishers and cooking things. The camping trip gave us a chance to enjoy a relaxed evening, and catch up properly. We enjoyed a barbecue, and played cards as the sun went down. More photos here. […]

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