MT. FUJI, Japan // Monday August 1, I'm talking to my Dad on the phone while on the free wifi at the hotel and he casually asks, “Are you going to check out Mt. Fuji?” to which I answer, “I thought it was far away from Tokyo?”. I hung up the phone and immediately started googling. When Adam walks back into the room from the hallway where he’s been talking to his parents I have already formulated a plan and I ask, “Want to do Mt. Fuji tomorrow?”. He agrees because he is great like that and he lives to adventure.
Tuesday August 2, 6:48 AM we are on a train to Takao where we change trains to a local one to Kawaguchiko. 3 Hours of train later we get on the one hour bus to the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station. At 11:05 A.M. we make it to the 5th station starting point of the Yashida Trail. We eat some noodle soup and start on the trail at 11:56 AM. At this point we aren’t sure what to expect or how high up the mountain we will go. The game plan is to make it to 7th station and have lunch and assess the situation. It's supposed to take 5-7 hours to the top and 3-5 hours down and we don’t want to climb at night, so turn around point will probably be around 3 PM. The only closed toe shoes I have are my grey vans and Adam is in keens. We have a small day pack filled with rain ponchos, a few layers, water, beef jerky, pringles, peanut m&ms, and gummy bears. I am in a tank top and hiking pants. Everyone we pass has a large pack, walking stick for hot iron stamps at each station on the way up, serious hiking shoes, and full body rain gear. We pass several large groups, some with elderly and young kids and think if they can do it we can do it. After an hour and a half of uphill switchbacks, in clouds and zero visibility, we make it to 7th station. This surprises us as we are well ahead of schedule. We look at each other and summit fever takes hold.
We can make it to the top if we move. We grind up to 9th station by 3 PM. It's only supposed to take an hour to the top but at the rate we have been climbing we should be able to make it in 30 minutes. I feel good. Breathing is good and occasionally my heart rate gets fast and I stop to slow it back down. The last part was definitely the hardest but we made it to the summit 3:35 PM. 3 hours and 39 minutes from when we started. The clouds had cleared a little and you could see the valley below. It was fairly empty at top as most people don’t summit at this time as they prefer to sleep overnight on the mountain and summit at sunrise. I enjoy the quiet silence and get my wooden pass branded with the hot iron proving we had made it to the top // 3,776m. Adam and I sit for the first time and order a hot chocolate. We eat some peanut m&ms and decide at 4 PM that its time to descend so we don’t get caught at night on the mountain. The trail down is different than the one up. It's a series of rock switchbacks that are a little steeper than is comfortable to walk on. We end up doing a light jog down the mountain as its easier to let gravity do its thing than try to brake to a walking stride. 2 hours later we are back at the 5th station waiting for the bus. At 11:30 PM we make it back to Shinjuku Station in Tokyo. We are damp from the rain, dirty, hungry as we had no time to grab dinner, and limping slightly from our tight muscles, but I couldn’t be happier. Summiting Mt. Fuji wasn’t even in the scope of possibilities I had imagined for this trip and the fact that we did it in a day makes me proud. I don’t want to say we are super hikers, but I sure do feel like it.
Wednesday August 3, 10 AM I wake up and pinch myself. Did yesterday really happen?