Woken early by a combination of heat and noisy neighbours packing equipment. A pleasant breakfast but it is becoming too hot to linger in the sun. We pack everything in the car and set off for Mt.Gassan Eighth Station (Midagahara). Kyukamura Haguro campsite is well placed for easy access to Mt. Gassan. Easy access being a steep, narrow, winding road leading to a large car park that is already overflowing at 9.30 am.
Mt. Gassan – Midagahara
The bright sunshine of the campsite has already given way to low, drifting cloud at this altitude. We plan a short circular walk on the usual wooden walkway around Midagahara. When this seems inadequate, we strike out for the summit or a summit. This proves to be an easy walk, mostly on a rough, stony path with high sasa (bamboo grass) growth on both sides. Occasionally, this opens out into wider spaces that show us where the expanses of wild flowers would have been had we arrived a month earlier. The periodic panoramas on offer are, also, time limited. The clouds sweep in more and more frequently, obliterating visibility. We press on, but eventually see no point as we are surrounded by cloud and sasa grass and little else. As we descend, the sun breaks through more frequently but, as we approach the car, there is a brief rain shower.
There are no shops in this area, and we have no food – though it is possible to eat at Gassan Eighth Station – we drive all the way to Sakata to find something to eat.
Leaving Sakata, we head for Yudonosan toll road but reach it too late. It closes at 4.20pm. for some arcane reason. (this arcane reason becomes clear on our subsequent visit)
＊Tsuruoka IC (Yamagata highway) – Gassan Kougen Line (close in winter)
Moving on we reach michi-no-eki Nishikawa (R.112) and pull in for the night. This is a good road station with plenty of parking and a much needed onsen. It is a little close to the main road but, we have stayed here before and have it marked as a good spot.
Tonight though it is hot. With the windows open, the mosquito nets up and the little fan whirring its heart out, it is still hot.
＊Elevation ; 240m
＊Mizusawa Onsenkan ; 300 yen
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.