24-Sep-2004 -- According to our map there seemed to be three realistic ways to approach from the closest road. The shortest way would take us across a river, which seemed just a little too fast-flowing to wade across. In both directions from this point the road crossed the river. The northern option would have required yet another stream crossing, so in the end we started from the southern bridge 1,02 km from the confluence. May not sound like a long distance, but the undergrowth was very dense, making advance very slow (see picture).
Armed with two bear bells and a bear deterrent pepper spray we ventured towards this confluence. Descriptions of the Hokkaido bears were not reassuring. They are big, mean and there are lots of them. And this time of year they have a good appetite, building up fat layers for the hibernation.
In the end, the only large mammals we saw were fortunately of the herbivorous variety, two beatiful deer dashing away after judging us having gotten too close for comfort. The first one escaped straight away from us, its white tail dancing above the shrubs, the other disappeared steep uphill with enviable ease. A moment later we were climbing the same slope, albeit much less nimbly.
We were happily surprised by an abandoded partly disappeared road which was not depicted in our fairly precise 1:25 000 map. The road took us within 300 metres of the confluence, after which we were forced to dive into the bushes once again.
The inhospitable terrain and the bear stress made us approve the idea of being happy with an accuracy of anything better than the minimum requirement of 100 m, even before actually getting that close. It turned out in the very limited visibility that a precipice with loose gravel separated us from the confluence, at 140 metres from it! We had already resigned to reporting an incomplete visit when after some 50 metres on our way back I discovered a possible route closer. At 115 metres Mari-Helena refused to go any closer, judging the ground too loose and steep. By hanging on the small trees I went on, disappearing from her sight, and managed to tarzan my way to 89 metres from the confluence. However, due to the tree cover the GPS showed an alternating accuracy of 9 and 13 metres, thus making the visit a border case. In my profession, however, the benefit of doubt is given to the individual instead of the authority and I hope this beautiful principle will be applied by the confluence project as well. Please.
The GPS pictures turned out to be poor quality, the one showing 89 metres being totally spoiled by the reflection of the flashlight. Sorry about that.
The walk back was much easier and felt much shorter being mainly downhill.