Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I Climbed Mt. Fuji Again!

On Monday night, Jonathan and I climbed Mt. Fuji. It was his first time, but my second time (here's the post about my first time: Fujisan! I Climbed a Volcano!).

The forecast I saw for Mt. Fuji was constantly changing, but it consistently said that Monday night would be clear. It showed PM rain, night clear, and AM rain, but the rain was only supposed to be a few millimeters. As we rode the train from Iwata to Fujinomiya station it got cloudier and cloudier. It was raining in Fujinomiya when we arrived and started raining even harder while we waited for the bus. Shortly before the bus arrived it started to clear up a bit.

The bus took about an hour and a half to reach the 5th station of the Fujinomiya trail. It winds up the mountain through a really pretty forest. It got really really foggy and creepy looking (I guess the bus driver knows that route pretty well because visibility was sooooo low!). It was cool looking, but my outlook for the climb wasn't good.

We arrived at the 5th station and waited for a while to adjust to the altitude. The bus had taken us to 2,400 meters. While we waited, we looked in the gift shop and bought our walking sticks and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we had packed.


The weather at the 5th station wasn't good. It wasn't raining hard, but it was misty and there weren't any good views. I was hoping the forecast was right and that it would eventually clear up.

Last time my friends and I started climbing around 8:30 at night and I didn't reach the top until about 4:45 in the morning and missed the sunrise. This time I was determined to see the the sunrise so we started climbing around 7:00. A man working at the start of the trail told us that we were kind of early and would reach the top too soon. He thought it would be better to wait and climb later since it was cold at the top. But based on how slowly I went last time we went ahead. 

The climb to the 6th station took only about twenty minutes and then the climb to the New 7th Station took about an hour. During this time we saw some people climbing down, but not many climbing up. Most of the time we were alone and when we turned off our flashlights it was really dark. We couldn't even see lights from the stations. It was kind of cool and creepy at the same time. The misty rain was really annoying though and was making me wet and cold. I really really hoped that it would clear up, but my outlook wasn't very positive.

While resting at the New 7th Station it cleared up all of a sudden and we got some really cool views! We could see cities and stars and it was so pretty! It was crazy how suddenly it changed.


We also saw lightning really far in the distance the whole night which was neat. 



Last time I was disappointed that I couldn't get any good pictures at night, but this time Jonathan got some really good ones. He recently bought a new DSLR. Most of the pictures in this post we taken by him.

For most of the hike we were by ourselves. We usually saw a few people at the stations, but it was mostly people who were spending the night there.

I have a diagram that shows how long it should take to hike between the stations. Last time my friends and I made good time between the first few stations but took longer and longer and longer between the later stations. This time, even with taking several breaks (often just sitting down right in the main path of the trail since there was no one else) we took about the same amount of time that's estimated on the diagram. We arrived at the 9th station before midnight. Maybe a little after 11:30?


I think we began hiking again around midnight. It took us about half an hour to reach Station 9.5. From there it's only supposed to take another thirty minutes to reach the summit. But 9.5 to the summit is really really steep though and we were already worn out from all the hiking so we took a ton of breaks and it took us over an hour to reach the summit. We reached the top around 2:00. It was really creepy up there and no one else was outside (I knew there were people sleeping in some of the buildings up there though). We sat in the doorway of one of the buildings, sheltered from the wind, but it was still really really cold. It was just a few degrees above freezing.

Between 2:00 and 3:00 a few groups of people reached the top and wandered around and asked me if I knew where the trail continued to reach the highest point, but I didn't know. They disappeared so I guess they found it.

Around 3:00 more people started arriving. It was getting even colder though and I started feeling sick. I was afraid it might be altitude sickness and I was really hoping it wasn't because I didn't want to have to go back down and miss the sunrise! Luckily I think I was just hungry because I ate a few Pringles and drank some water and felt better. I still didn't feel great though, but it was a good sign that it wasn't altitude sickness.

Sometime between 3:30 and 4:00 the sky started getting lighter, so we headed towards the east side of the summit. The view was so beautiful! I started feeling a lot better (I think the pretty view plus getting up and moving around really helped). We found a good place to sit and wait for the sunrise.











Haha, the old guy in the background is funny.


A little after 5, the sun appeared. Sooooo pretty!











After enjoying the pretty view for a while we headed towards the highest point. We passed by the post office on the way there and Jonathan sent a postcard to his parents. It's such a tiny little post office! It was in a different building than it was last time, but I don't think it was any larger. It's really funny because there are bunk beds right behind the counter! They have a short commute to work, haha.



Jonathan made the observation that Japanese people rarely wear bright clothing, but it's very different on Mt. Fuji!



That's the highest point in the background. I didn't go up there last time, but I kind of regretted it. There was a long line up there, but some people were just walking past the line. We figured out that the line was just for people taking a picture with a sign at the top so we got out of line and went to the top. The sign wasn't even really at the highest point. I think the highest point is right behind where Jonathan is standing.


There's a weather station at the top. I thought it wasn't used anymore but I just read that it was manned until 2004 and now it's automated.


The view from that point isn't any better than the rest of the summit, but you might as well go there if you've climbed the rest of the way. But if you don't make it up there it's not really a big deal.

We started our climb down around 6:30. It's horrible! It's steep in many places and even when it's not steep it's still easy to slip because of all the loose rocks and dirt. It's less tiring than climbing up so you don't have to take many breaks, but it's more difficult.



We didn't take many breaks on the way down and usually just briefly stopped for a few minutes at each station. At one of the earlier ones we stopped to eat a snack. We finished up the peanut butter cups I had made. So tasty! They were a really good snack for hiking Mt. Fuji. I took raisin breadsticks, dried fruit, Pringles, and peanut butter cups. The peanut butter cups and Pringles were the best snacks and helped a lot!




I gave this to Jonathan a couple years ago. It was kind of a joke, but he really likes it, haha. He meant to take a picture at the top but he forgot and took one on the way down.


One of the stations was getting a delivery. Those crazy vehicles drive stuff up the mountain!


We eventually got back to the 5th station around 11:45. It took us about seven hours to hike up and five hours and fifteen minutes to go down. Last time it took me about eight and a half hours to hike up. I guess I am in a lot better shape than I was last time!

When I got home yesterday afternoon I got some chicken and rice from Family Mart. It was my first real meal in a while! So tasty! I went to bed at 7:20 and didn't get up until after 7 this morning. I've been up a few hours now and still feel a little sleepy. I'm sore too!

There's a Japanese saying that says something like, "A wise person climbs Fuji once and a fool climbs it twice." At first I felt like it might be true when the weather was horrible. It just couldn't be as amazing of an experience the second time. But then the weather cleared and I saw a beautiful sunrise! I'm so glad I climbed Mt. Fuji again and actually got to see the sunrise. Though now that I've seen the sunrise, I don't think I'll climb Mt. Fuji again. If I just had to hike up that would be fine but I really hate the hike down! It was worth it for the super pretty view at the top though! :)

5 comments:

  1. My 8 yo daughter Adele just read me this for our daily reading practice, because she asked to read something about Mt Fuji. She really enjoyed it and I think it might inspire her to visit Japan one day, and climb Mt Fuji too. Thanks so much for writing it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much! That's around the age that I started getting interested in Japan. :)

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