The first time Jeff and I did this route early one July we were rather displeased to come around a corner still kilometers from the trailhead to find the gate across the road firmly locked. Knowing that this would now mean 13km in each direction we pulled on our boots and slogged up the road grumbling to ourselves. The only explanation for the closure we could see was a slight washout above a drop to the stream, but there was still enough room for vehicles to pass with care so we cursed over zealous officials and carried on. As a result of this, however, there was nobody else around and we had the mountain virtually to ourselves for the whole day. Despite some rolling mist and being just too early for the full glory of the flowers, it was a good day out nonetheless.
We returned in autumn a few years later; this time the road was open and the weather was glorious. Although the flowers were gone the autumn colours were beautiful, not just the fiery hues of the foliage itself but also the delicate tracing of the bare mountain birches on the hillsides. One of the few other people we met that day was flying a drone and politely asked if we minded if he flew it. We didn’t, and in return he later sent some fantastic 360-degree aerial footage of the three of us on the summit.
On the way back we stopped in at the Yubari-dake Hutte to find preparations for a party in progress. It turned out that this was in fact the last weekend the road was open and the club members had gathered to celebrate the end of the summer climbing season. We were given a guided tour of the new hut, which looked very comfortable and a great place to stay sometime. After envious glances at the large amounts of food and alcohol being readied for the party we walked the last few minutes back down to the car. This time we’d been lucky with the road – why the Forest Department has to close it when there is still a few weeks of hiking season left was beyond us, but we decided it might be a good idea to check in future!