Our Fuji-San Climb!
We have lived here in Japan for a little over 2 1/2 years.... I wont bore you with all we have done, seen, explored, experienced, ect, however I will tell you that almost all of the Americans I have met here will tell you they have a "Japan Bucket List".... Usually filled with monuments, shrines, cities... But at the top of many of these lists is climbing Mt Fuji... and it was sitting quietly at the top of ours.
This was becoming a dream more then an actual reality though for us... My husbands Navy schedule has not allowed for us to go these past 2 summers, and with the boat pulling out once again for this Season, we were starting to come to terms that this adventure may not be one we could make work! We only have about 5 months left here in Japan, and the mountain is only open for about 10 weeks!
But low and behold, the opportunity arose! Maybe not the Overnight "watch the sunrise from the top of the world" adventure we originally sought, but one all in its own.
The boat was in port and we were able to split up our 3 kids and dog between some friends, pack up our bags, and hit the Mountain on opening weekend!
Our journey really started about 1AM on a Saturday morning (July 5th)... Sleeping the night before was a joke, we were a bit amped and to force yourself to sleep through excitement and nerves is impossible... so up we got and hit the road! We have driven to Fuji a few times now, so the drive wasn't bad- it took about 3 hours on the toll roads, in the dang rain... The whole drive I was just praying to Mother Nature to give us a slight peek of beautiful weather! tell me the weather man predicting thundershowers all day is Crazy Off!
Prayers answered, for the moment.... The drive to the 5th station was great! You even go over a spot on the road where your tires on the pavement play a tune, the Japanese anthem I think ;) It was really cool and set the mood as we were making our accent!
Geared up and ready to go!
Ok so tip #1: wear actual rain gear! If there is any chance of rain at all for your hike, bring rain gear- not water/wind resistant clothing like we did, which was USELESS against the elements! We did however make sure everything in our packs was zip-locked though...
Walking from the car to the 5th station stop we were super optimistic! Look at that sky! It was 4:30 AM and we thought we would be able to get a glimpse of that beautiful sunrise!
This is the "Land of the Rising Sun" so I really thought Mother Nature was on my side! Yey!
O how wrong I was.... weather man was damn right, and I think she has mixed feelings towards me.
This is the 5th Station Kawaguchiko- They were already open when we arrived so we went pee, peeled off a layer (already sweating from our packs and the humidity) and bought our walking stick! Im getting every stamp by golly!!
Only about 15 minutes later, the haze started coming back... it wasn't looking so good....
Tip #2: If you have the opportunity to choose the day you are going to climb, choose later in July or August, on a SUNNY day! We had no choice, last chance before we leave Japan.
Lets get this party started!
Tip #3: Get friendly! Ask people to take some photos for ya! you want to document at least a little of this right??
And now we trek through the spooky forest.... Man alive it was cool though- so nice to be away from the city!
Holy Moly... wish I had "smell-a photo!!!" Put this sweet, woodsy, earthy, clean scent in a candle so I can take it home.... Soooo refreshing and lovely... Looking back my husband and I laugh at how we were in awe, loving being on the mountain and one with nature in this moment.....
Ha! I think Fuji is laughing at us....
Our accent really wasn't to bad in all honesty though... The trail eventually became more and more rocky, the weather worse and worse, and yes we did begin to freeze, but we stayed energized, hydrated, and just kept moving...
Eep!!! Our 1st stamps!! Yey! Here we go!
This was about the best view we got all day... it was very misty, rainy, hazy, foggy... how many words can I use to explain the weather?? Sucky?
The station stops were great for moral... get a stamp, drink some water (tip #4: sip water as much as you can!!! no altitude sickness at all for us... hydration is key! start 2 days before you climb) Catch your breath... but let me say, the higher we got (especially after the 8th station), the shorter we rested... it was freezing, we were SOAKED through to our underwear, so slowing down our heart rate and blood flow just let the cold seep in... At this point we were seriously considering buying 2000 yen ponchos at one of the huts! But just kept moving.... Get it Done!
Hmmmmmm Getting a little more mountainous...
Yep this looks fun!
Met the nicest man who took this photo for us at the 7th station! he had climbed Mt Saint Helen over 40 times, and this was his 3rd climb of Fuji!
Rain is really starting to come down... This is how we were feeling.....
Tip #5: Bring a fantastic partner to climb with!!! My husband is my best friend... he is ridiculous, hilarious, and super supportive... The Ying to my Yang... We push each-other, and after Station 8, when the chilly bones and numb fingers were becoming discouraging, its just what we needed... a little humor, and a little push.
Let the pelting Ice Begin!
The Top! We did it! All 3,776 meters of ya! we are here!! The Summit! Ahhhh!!!!! Freezing 5 minute celebration!!
Tip #6: Practicing Yoga breathing techniques could help you! I never really became outa breath, did stop for some good deep breathing on occasion, but did good!
This is the crater, "Hachi", at the top.... it is 600 meters in diameter and about 200 meters deep, which is all the way back down to the 8th station... Don't get to close to the edge! Its a bit windy! To walk around the whole crater is called "Ohachi-meguri", but since it was beyond cold up there, we just patted ourselves on the back for making it to the top, changed into dry clothes, and started booking it back down the mountain! Thank you Fuji-San for staying dormant for us!
Our dry clothes weren't dry for long- it was almost noon, took almost 6 hours to get to the top, and the sky was now really opening up!
Did I mention pelting ice??? well Im still smiling!
Last photo before we descend... Over you Mr Fuji.
Thank goodness for the water proof camera and lens... but tucked back in the bag...
Let me tell ya tho, the decent for me was waaaayyyyy worse then the accent...At some point I think both hubby and I were bordering hypothermia, just un-aware... coming down from station 8, my legs were shaking, and burning.... Then around 7 I got high, as a damn kite.... I guess I should explain a little....
Going down your on a different trail, one more of rocky dirt as opposed to mountain terrain, so its quick... we slid, a lot... all this time your watching your footing so you don't fall, which I did, plenty, as were all the people around us! We were dropping like flies... At some point about 1/2 way back down I looked over at my husband, who had turned green.... Confusion overtook me for a moment as I stopped to rub my eyes, but looked back and nope, he was green! how is it possible that my husband, dressed all in black, is now wearing forestry hues and neon shoes??? so I look around, and Im in the Emerald City! everything has taken on a shade of green! Well dear husband is just cracking up at this point, "What the hell is wrong with you??" he keeps saying! "I DONT KNOW!! Ahh!" Well at least it was a bit of comic relief, which wore off by the time we were safely back to 5... and later realized it was an oxygen high- who'da thunk! That's why Oxygen Bars are so popular!
So maybe Tip #7: take it a bit slower going down??
Ya love his hat, ya know you do... hahahaha
Remember that beautiful forest I explained in the beginning? where I wanted to capture the scent in a bottle, well at the point of walking back through I was spitting curses... ALL we cared about was getting to the car... SOOOOOOOO cold and wet (literal shoe sloshing going on)... Quick stop to pee and stick photo...
ALL the stamps! O yeah! We rock!!!
Didn't even stop for suvineers, just strait to the car where dry clothes and the car heater waited for us.... We stripped naked in the parking lot, yep all the way naked, and put that heater on full blast- Heaven in our stinky car!
We will be going back up with the kids in September for goodies and to show them that part of the mountain... on a clear day ;)
All in all, this experience was incredible.... We both were amazed at how well we climbed, regardless of the elements. 10 hours up and back down, and home in time for dinner!
There is nothing more beautiful then being one with nature.... this was one adventure that will stay with me forever... a feeling of empowerment.
Those climbing sticks will find a very nice home on our living room wall.... good reminder of what we are capable of, and all we can conquer.
Bucket List Topper: Complete :)