Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Climbed Mt. Fuji! A third time!

This past weekend I climbed Mt. Fuji for the third time because Jonathan really wanted to climb it again. I didn't really want to do it again, but a couple weeks ago I looked at my pictures from last year and started getting excited about it.

Here are posts from the previous two times:
Fujisan! I Climbed a Volcano!
I Climbed Mt. Fuji Again!


On Friday, the day before our climb, we made taco salad for dinner and I drank an Inca Kola. I had no idea that it had caffeine. Well, it turns out that it has about the same amount as Mountain Dew. I don't do well with caffeine late in the day. Plus I rarely drink caffeine so it can really affect me.

After dinner I went back home and packed and made peanut butter cups for our trip. I was wide awake and pretty productive. Too awake and productive actually. At 2:30 I finally went to bed even though I wasn't tired. I couldn't fall asleep. I wasn't sleepy at all. It was awful! I didn't know about the caffeine yet so I had no idea why. I didn't fall asleep until after 5:30 or maybe almost 6:00! Though luckily I didn't have to get up early and slept until 12:15, though that still wasn't as much sleep as I wanted for staying up all night to hike Fuji.

I finished packing and drove to Jonathan's. We biked to the station and took a train at 2:55. After riding the train for a couple hours and having to stand for a lot of that time, we arrived at Gotemba Station a little after 5:30. There was a bus we could take at 6:10, but we decided to eat dinner at Subway and take the next bus at 6:45. We thought a real meal would be better for dinner than the snacks we brought.

The bus wound through the mountains. It was very foggy for a while, but we eventually went above the clouds and caught a few glimpses of the top of the mountain.

An hour later we arrived at the New 5th Station of the Subashiri Trail. The Subashiri Trail starts at 2,000 meters. The Fujinomiya Trail, which I did the first two times, starts at 2,400 meters. So the Subashiri Trail is a bit longer.

I liked the 5th Station of the Subashiri Trail better. It had a nicer atmosphere. A nice old lady was handing out small cups of free soup. She was also concerned that I was wearing shorts but was relieved when I said I was going to change into pants.

 
 

Usually, on the bus ride up the mountain it gets colder and colder, but this time it wasn't that cold at the 5th Station. I changed into pants and put on a fleece jacket, but I took off the jacket soon after we began our hike a little after 8:00.

The Subashiri Trail is neat because it starts off in the woods. I thought that might be creepy at night, but it wasn't bad at all. Maybe it was because there were other people around, though it definitely wasn't crowded either.

As we went through the woods there were some clearings and we had a beautiful view of the sky. It was so clear and we could see so many stars! I saw at least six or seven shooting stars that night.

As we made our way to the next station, Jonathan realized that he had left his walking stick somewhere. I sat down and waited while he went back to down to find it. He didn't go too far so he didn't find it, but he did find a stick that had fallen from a tree that he used for the rest of the trip.

According to the map/guide I had it seemed like we weren't making very good time. But I just looked at it again and noticed that there were two 5th Stations on the map, and one is only for the descending trail. So it turns out that we were always one station further than we thought we were. Oops. It also would have helped if I had looked more closely at some of the signs at the stations.

At some point we put a bunch of glow bracelets on our backpacks just for fun. Someone had that idea the first time I climbed Fuji and I've continued the tradition.


The picture of our backpacks was taken at the 7th Station shortly before midnight. Next was the Main 7th Station, then the 8th Station, and then the Main 8th Station. They should just renumber them or something because that's just confusing.

Somewhere in that time I started getting really tired. The trail was just a bunch of small, loose rocks and sand. For every few steps I took forward I slid back one. My backpack was really weighing me down. I had packed too much food and I hate carrying backpacks to begin with. So Jonathan was super super nice and carried my backpack in addition to his own! It made hiking sooooo much easier for me and I really appreciated it. :)

I think it was somewhere between the two 8th stations that the Subashiri Trail merged with the Yoshida trail, which is the most popular. So the trail was quite a bit more crowded then.


After the Main 8th Station we accidentally got on a some other trail that bypassed the rest of the stations. There were some big tour groups that we got stuck behind at times, but we were able to pass them eventually. Climbing with a tour group looked miserable to me.

I didn't mind bypassing the stations too much because you can take a break on the side of the trail pretty much anytime you want. But they are a good way of marking your progress and knowing if your timing is good or not.

Eventually we reached an area with a bunch of buildings and tons of people. We thought we were still a little ways from the top but we had actually reached the summit! At this point it was cold and the wind was very very strong. We walked around the summit clockwise to get away from the crowds and try and find a place sheltered from the wind. We couldn't find a non-windy spot, so we were pretty miserable as we waited for the sunrise.   


I didn't check what time it was when we reached the summit, but the first picture I took while waiting for the sunrise was at 3:55. So I guess we arrived a little after 3:30. 

After shivering in the cold for a while, the sun finally rose at 4:44.


The clouds looked so beautiful against the mountains. It was like a cloud sea. 




When Jonathan and I climbed Fuji last year we had also been super cold, but when the sun rose it quickly warmed up and we weren't miserable anymore. That didn't happen this time unfortunately. The wind was just too strong. So we didn't take very many pictures of us at the top.   


That picture didn't turn out well, but I was just too cold to try taking any more.


 
The sky was at its prettiest when the sun had risen a little higher and there were beautiful sun rays. I wish we had been able to sit and enjoy it more, but we were too cold to just sit around.


A little after 5:00 we headed around the summit a bit to the Gotemba Trail and probably started hiking down around 5:15. Jonathan wanted to take that trail down because of the sand run. I hoped that the wind would clam down as we descended the mountain, but it didn't. At least it got warmer though.

Just like last year, Jonathan brought along his Captain Picard action figure to take a picture.


I brought along a Sailor Moon toy to take a picture of, but I was too tired and just couldn't be bothered with it at the time. I kind of regret it now though. It would be a cute picture. 

 

The Gotemba Trail wasn't as bad for hiking down as the Fujinomiya Trail. A few areas were slippery and I was afraid of falling, but that was partially because of the wind as well. 


Eventually we reached Osunabashiri, the sand run. I was a little afraid to go too quickly at first, but then I tried it and running down was actually kind of fun. Your feet sink into the sand rather than slide on it so it's not scary. Though I was too tired to run much.


I had hoped that the wind would die down, but it actually started getting worse. Jonathan gave me his camera to take a picture of him running, and at that moment the wind blew his backpack down the trail.



We were hit by some really strong gusts of wind. The blowing sand hurt and I was actually knocked down once. At this point I started hating the Gotemba Trail.  

Luckily, a little while after that the wind did weaken. The rest of the trail was easy, but the station was sooooooo far away. It seemed like it would never end. Plus it was hot. So the rest of the hike was miserable.


You can see the station parking lot on the right side of the above image. So far away!

As we took a break near the end, I took a picture looking back up the mountain. It kind of makes it look not that bad though. But a lot of the trail winds up the mountain so it takes a long time.


The Gotemba Trail 5th Station is at 1400 meters, so it's a lot lower than the other stations (Fujinomiya is 2400 and Subashiri is 2000). At first I thought it was great because it wasn't too difficult to hike down, but now I don't think I'd recommend it. It's just so long and so barren. There are very few stations. I think only one of them had bathrooms. I think hiking up it would be awful. My favorite trail is the Subashiri Trail because it begins in the woods, but I don't know what it's like for climbing down.

We finally made it to the 5th Station around 11:00, but we had to wait until 12:15 for the bus. We were covered in sand and dirt, but the bathrooms smelled bad and weren't good for cleaning up. The women's one didn't have any mirrors or sinks. So I ended up just using some bottled water and wiping myself off with my jacket outside.

The bus ride wasn't so bad, but I was really hot on the trains. I couldn't change into my shorts because my legs were so dirty. Wearing fleece lined pants in the middle of summer in Japan is not fun. I was also wearing my rain jacket because I didn't have any clean tops. It's thin, but it kind of felt like a sauna.

Eventually I made it home. Showering felt wonderful! I ate dinner and went to bed a little after 7:00. I slept until my alarm woke me up at 6:30 the next morning. It felt amazing to sleep that long after being so worn out!

 
As I said earlier, I packed too much food. I didn't pack enough food last time, so I wanted to be sure to have enough this time. Plus, we also ate at Subway for dinner, so I had some extra food that I had planned on eating for dinner. That picture was taken after the hike so you can see how much I had left!


Just like last year, the peanut butter cups were the best food when I felt weak. We ate all of the ones that I took.


I kept them cool with adorable Little Twin Stars ice packs. :)


I had Jewelpet tissues and Hello Kitty Band-aids.  Even when hiking a mountain I like to have cute stuff. :)



I kept a lot of stuff in cute plastic bags in case it rained. Luckily it didn't!


It's interesting what the elevation does to stuff. I hadn't opened that bottle since somewhere towards the top of Fuji, so near sea level it was smashed in.


That's the Sailor Moon keychain I took with me. I didn't get a picture of her on Fuji, but oh well.

Last year I said I would probably never climb Fuji again. I feel even more strongly about that now. Though if I ever did it again I would want to climb up for sunset, stay in one of the huts, see the sunrise, then climb down. Though I don't know how well I would sleep in one of those huts where you're crowded in a big room with a bunch of strangers. 

Anyway, this wasn't my best experience hiking Fuji, but I'm still glad we did it. I wish I had gotten more sleep the previous night and that the wind hadn't been as strong, but besides that the trip went pretty well. Hiking through the woods at night was cool and the night sky was amazing. The sunrise wasn't as spectacular this time, but it was still beautiful. It's a tough and very tiring hike, but I really recommend doing it at least once.

Here's a comparison of how long it took me to hike the different trails:

2010
Up the Fujinomiya Trail: 8 hours, 30 minutes
Down the Fujinomiya Trail: 6 hours, 15 minutes
Total (not counting time at the summit): 14 hours, 45 minutes


2013
Up the Fujinomiya Trail: 7 hours
Down the Fujinomiya Trail: 5 hours, 15 minutes
Total (not counting time at the summit): 12 hours, 15 minutes

2014
Up the Subashiri Trail: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Down the Gotemba Trail: 5 hours, 45 minutes
Total (not counting time at the summit):  13 hours, 15 minutes

3 comments:

  1. Hello Ms. Jenna,I went to climb Up Mt. Fuji last 8/13 at around 10pm(from the 5th station) via Fujinomiya trail.It was a very rough adventure,I think.From the 7th station upwards,I felt that the wind was too strong accompanied by rain.Is it always like that from the 7th station??Strong winds??or it is just a bad weather?

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    1. I think it was just bad weather. This was my third time climbing Mt. Fuji but it was my first time experiencing strong wind. I had a little rain the first two times, but it was very light and nothing that really affected climbing. Unfortunately it seems hard to predict how the weather will be before you climb so sometimes you can't avoid stuff. :( But maybe if you climb again you will have better weather. :)

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