08-Mar-2004 -- What is possibly the last daytrip land confluence remaining in Hokkaido should have been easy to attain. I took the earliest (7:15AM) train from Kitami, having stayed there for the night after the successful attempt of 44°N 144°E. I got off the train at Kamikawa, a small mountain resort town, and the closest, best approach to the confluence. Like some kind of omen, the snow was now falling heavily, in contrast to yesterday's bright sun. Before heading off on a bus to the point, at the train station I made a last check of things like GPS power. I turned on the GPS and staring at me was a message in big block letters, "UPLOAD NOT PRESENT". Surely, I'd made some mistake. I tried it again. "What?!" I had no idea what was happening to my GPS. "What the hell does 'UPLOAD NOT PRESENT' mean?!!"
There was nothing I could do at this point. I had just missed some scientists in the station who set off to monitor avalanches in the region. Maybe I could have borrowed their GPS.
I was still planning on going out to the confluence to make a closest approach by map. However, problems kept mounting. The bus station attendant, although very nice and helpful, said there was no way the bus would stop on the mountain road where I wanted it to. The train station attendant, a stubborn, unfriendly apparatus of Japan's railway system, refused to let me keep my extra bags in the attendants' area like many stations do. I would have had to hitchhike both ways to the point, and would have had to find a place to stash the bags, including my alpine touring skis.
After trying unsuccessfully to find a place in Kamikawa that could fix my GPS, I decided the best thing for me to do was to take an hour and a half bus ride to Asahikawa, Hokkaido's second largest city, and find a sports shop to fix my GPS so I could come back and re-attempt the confluence.
Once I arrived in Asahikawa I found out the best outdoor sports shop, Shugakuso, was closed on that day, Monday. Another sports shop investigated the problem for me and said I'd probably have to send my Garmin back to the company. At the time of writing I still haven't fixed my GPS and I don't know what happened to it. Some people say that if I can find a Garmin cable, a difficult proposition in itself here in Asia, I can download new software from the internet onto my GPS. I'll try to do that, or be forced to buy a new GPS. I'm surprised Garmin makes a GPS with such a flaw, and that there wouldn't be backup batteries protecting the memory. There's no reason I shouldn't have been able to get this confluence. If anyone has an idea as to why this problem occurred please drop me a line.
As for the confluence, it seems like it might be easy as long as the topography isn't too steep. It's only about a kilometer from highway 273, but it's in a pretty mountainous area. You're lucky if you have a car to get there, but, if not, hitching is probably your only option unless you can convince the bus driver to stop.