Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Look Back: Climbing Mt. Fuji

After being able to find and download all my old Myspace blogs I am doing some look backs on the adventures we experienced while living in Japan. These have been left exactly how I wrote them in my early 20's -- in all my immature, na├»ve, and ineloquent glory. Pictures have been added.

This is one of our most memorable: Climbing to the summit of Mt. Fuji.
August 3, 2006

Mt. Fuji: The 2nd tallest free standing volcano (not attached to a mountain range, the tallest is Mt. St. Helens). It is the highest peak in Japan at 12,387 feet above sea level or 3,775 meters.

So yeah.... I did it! I made it to the summit of Mt. Fuji. It only took me 7 hours to climb there and 3 and a half to get back down. Ugg.

To describe the occasion, let me put it this way. It was an incredible experience that I never want to have again.

For those that didn't know, I was having a hard time finding somebody to go with me. Ryan told me he couldn't go, my friends couldn't or didn't want to go, and I was preparing to go by myself. Finally, the day before the trip Ryan asked if he could get leave and it was granted, so he did go with me.

We had to be at the building by 2:30 am, and since we didn't go to sleep until around midnight, we were pretty tired. We slept the 2 1/2 hours drive to the mountain.

The trail begins for us at the 5th station so we bought our sticks and started the walk to the 6th station. We had been hiking for over 1 1/2 hours when we met our guide Yoshi on his way up and he said we were still going to the 6th station. I was very frustrated and wanted to quit right then and there. This mountain was not easy and I knew it would only get harder. But Ryan was with me and he kept me going. We finally made it to a station. Whoo hooo! It was the 7th station! We never realized we had already passed the 6th station and Yoshi apologized and said he had misspoke. He thought we asked what was the station we passed.
part of a switch back on the ascent trail
station worker burning stamps onto walking sticks
So anyway, we took a short break, got my stamp, and continued on. OMG! I totally underestimated this climb! By the time we got past the eight station we could see the summit and were only half way there. Yoshi met us and said "yay, you're halfway there. Now it gets hard." Now? *groan* I thought it was already hard. The trail was a million steep switchbacks on sliding volcanic gravel-type rocks, intermixed with steep sides of volcanic stones that you must climb up. Oh, and it was hot. The day we climbed was very warm and sunny... which is good but also bad, I'll get to that later.

view of "hotel" from the 8th station

As you go up, obviously the altitude is higher and the air is thinner. I could totally feel it. Thankfully I never experienced any altitude sickness, but when we were on our last leg from the hotel thing to the summit I had to stop at the end of each switch back to catch my breath. Ryan was really pushing me to get to the top. We had to start our decent at 1:00 and we didn't have much time.

taking a break at one of the switchbacks
trail of switchbacks from the "hotel"
Entering the summit of Mt. Fuji

Finally, we made it. Such a relief! I was so tired and so was he so we didn't go the extra little hill to see the crater. Besides, we had to start going down by that time and we didn't want to be late. We were above the clouds at the summit so there wasn't any view to appreciate. Only look down and see the trail below and the clouds.
trail to see the crater
our view...

We began our decent. Amazingly, we kept passing people. The climb down was, again, steep switchbacks on VERY loose volcanic gravel-type rocks. We got our rhythm down, and with our sticks we could balance alright. I only fell three times! There was a bathroom that we stopped at. BLEH! It was the nastiest bathroom I had ever been in my whole life. If you wanna know, ask me. Ryan didn't realize how far away the bus was or anything so he was really trying to hurry to get back. Not good for me.

see?? Steep trail on LOOSE volcanic gravel!

Here's why: I hurt my leg just getting to the 7th station and was in pain the rest of the climb (6 hours of it). We hadn't been eating to well up the mountain so I was hungry (but didn't know it) and although I had been drinking lots of water it wasn't enough (which I didn't find out until later).

Eventually we made it to the bus. I changed out of my shoes, socks and pants and fell asleep until our bus got moving. When we got back to the base, Ryan told me to go to the car and he'd get all our stuff. So I waited for him. I really wasn't feeling good at all. He dropped me off at the front of our tower, I went upstairs, he parked the car. When he got to our place he found me puking in the bathroom, that's right, puking. My body was exhausted and dehydrated. Not to mention incredibly sunburned. So he made me drink lots of water and eat some high calorie foods. We stayed up for awhile to make sure I was okay and then we went to bed.

I got up this morning and just wanted to lay back down. I am soooo sore. All my muscles ache. My ankles are swollen, but no blisters, thank God. Now, I get sunburned often and although I did wear sunscreen, I didn't put it everywhere I should have or applied it as often as I should have. I AM RED! My neck, my face, my arms and hands. Even Ryan is really burned. He never burns so he is in a lot of pain.
Yeah, I don't think I'll be climbing any more mountains any time soon. I'm glad I climbed Mt. Fuji, but I'm never going to do it again.

since we had to pay for the stamps we only did the station stamps on my stick... but Ryan did get his summit stamps

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing memory! I'm glad you climbed it and lived to tell the tale! :)