Tuesday August 24th
I flew in to Atsugi, which is a military base outside of Tokyo on Tuesday night. I had planned to take the train into Tokyo to stay at the New Sanno but it was a two hour train ride and it was already after 9pm. I decided to stay there in Atsugi and just head to Mt. Fuji the next morning.
Wednesday August 25th
I woke up at 6am to find out when the rental car place opened and found out it was at 730. I jumped in the shower and got ready, then packed my bag for the hike. I got over to the rental car placed and tried to rent a car but they were out so I ended up with a big van just for me. I picked up some McDonald's, four bottles of water, and directions to the mountain and hit the road.
Have you ever flown into a new city and tried to drive somewhere without knowing anything about the city. Try flying into a new city that doesn't speak english most things are not written in english and given directions with no map. Very difficult!
It took me 3 hours to get to the 5th station of Mt Fuji and I began my hike at 12pm.
I bought a walking stick that most people buy and then at each station you can pay 200 yen for a stamp that they burn onto the stick that shows the elevation.
I started out at 2400 meters (7,200 feet)
It took me 20 minutes to get to the 6th station where I got my stick stamped and then pressed on.
Then it took an hour to get to the new 7th station. I stopped at the new 7th station and had a muffin and half a coke for some energy and a sugar rush. It was a little after 1pm and I was already very tired at this point. While I was getting my stick stamped the Japanese guy that worked there happen to speak some english and asked if I had made reservations at one of the stations. At each station you can sleep for roughly 70 dollars on a mat on the floor. They squeeze in lots and lots of people and you are sleeping right next to stranger. I told him no that I was headed to the top and then back down. He then told me it was to late, that I wouldn't make it up and back and I told him I had to try.
I reached the old 7th station by 2pm and was exhausted and really started talking myself out of it. I was climbing all by myself so I didn't have anyone to help me along or offer words of encouragement. I was my own worst enemy. You know that voice in your head that says "Do you really need to get to the top?" "The 7th station is good enough right?" "Hey even that guy says you will never make it!" It was horrible....and I pressed on.
When I got to the 8th station I couldn't believe it. I sat down, ate a banana and over looked the clouds. It truly was amazing. I got my stick stamped and headed to the 9th station.
There were places where you actually had to use your hands to help you get up and over rocks. I just kept thinking to myself I needed to hurry otherwise I would be coming down this in the dark.
(some of the trail where you had to use your hands to climb, imagine coming down this in the dark)
(leaving coins for good luck)
I kept on and before I knew it I was at station 9. I once again got my stamp and off I went to station 9.5.
I had a big dissapointment when I got to 9.5. It was 4:22 when I got there and the Japanese guy pointed to his clock and said closed. "What do you mean closed?" I still don't understand how they can close with some many climbers climbing up and down all throughout the day and night but apparently they need a break to. So, I sat down and got a little emotional. To think I had come all this way and now I wasn't going to get my 9.5 stamp or my 10 stamp. How could I possibly make it all the way to the top and not get a stamp for it. Then the voice in my head went off again. "What's the point?" "You aren't going to get a stamp anyway!" It was awful!! I sat there for a good 10 minutes or so trying to decide what to do.
In the end I couldn't make it this far without making it to the top could I? Honestly it was pretty close. I continued on and finally I saw the tori gate right at the end of the trail. It was 5:20 and I had made it to the top in a little under 5.5 hours. 3776 meters and 12388 feet high.
(the tori gate you walk under right at the top)
I walked over to the top and in my not very good japanese asked for a stamp and they said that the shrine was closed. I tried to ask someone else and once again closed. I walked over to the shrine and all the doors where shut and I was devastated. I walked down another path so that I could see the crater and get a photo of that and then I headed back to the shrine. I sat down and almost began to feel really sorry for myself when I look over and see some movement at the shrine door. I run as fast as my tired legs will go and I see an exchange of money and handing over of a stick. I grabbed my money and my stick and handed it over. I couldn't believe it, I thanked God for helping me up the mountain and for allowing me to get my 10th station stamp.
(I made it)
I took a picture of the Sengentaisha- Oumiya Shrine and then headed back down the mountain. It was 6pm and I knew the sun would be gone at 7.
While I was climbing up I kept telling myself I can't wait until it's my turn to head down. Boy was I wishing for the wrong thing. It was horrible on my old runner knees and now I understand why they say to wear hiking boots (which I wore trail running shoes) because I rolled my ankles on each and every step down. It was very painful on both my knees and ankles.
I made it all the way down the the old 7th station before it went dark and then I bought a flashlight. From the old 7th station to the new 7th station it took over an hour. It was so hard to get down the terrain in the dark with only a flashlight. I don't know what made me turn the flashlight off but finally when I did it was actually easier to use the moonlight then the flashlight to descend. The flashlight was a cheap flashlight and only lit up a small area and the moonlight actually showed the dimensions of the rocks and trail so that I wouldn't hurt my ankles as bad.
I made it back to my car at the 5th station at 9pm. Then I made the long drive back to the hotel. I finally went to bed around 130am.
Thursday August 26th
I woke up at 730 to return the rental car at 8am. I then walked back to the hotel, took a shower, packed up all my belongings and headed to Yokota AB. It took me about three hours to walk and catch three different trains to get to the base. I headed straight over to the hotel where I was told that there were no rooms available, andl the AC in the hotel was out. It was so hot in the hotel that I walked over to the terminal and hung out there until it closed at 8pm. I hadn't eaten dinner yet so I walked over to the Officers club to eat. Walking around with my walking stick and luggage people start asking you questions like "Did you just climb Mt. Fuji?" "Where are you headed?" The hostess at dinner took pitty on my when I told her I climbed Mt. Fuji and now the hotel had no rooms. She talked with the manager of the O'club and they allowed me to stay until he left at 1145pm.
I walked my very tired self over to the lobby of the hotel and tired to sleep next to an open window.
Friday August 27
I tried to sleep which didn't go very well, thankfully the coffee shop opened at 6am. With coffee in hand I walked back over to the terminal.
I was flying home Space-A (available) which is a way of saying: flying free, and flights can be cancelled without much notice. It should be Space-U for space unreliable!
There were three flights that were suppose to leave Friday. One with a roll call at 620, one with a roll call of 840 and another flight in the afternoon.
The 620 flight and the afternoon flight were delayed 24 hours so that only left the 840 flight.
As the time came closer to 840 more and more people began to show up. We are put into catagories depending on who you are, why you are traveling, and then depending on when you signed up.
Well, I happened to be the last of 17 people. The roll call began and they said they were only going to except 7 people. Not good for me. The first two were called and given tickets, then the next two people and then they stopped. Some time went by and they made an announcement that the plane could only except 700 pounds. After the first two people there was only 200 pounds left. So, then they called back the last two people and asked if they wanted to be separated. They didn't and it went to the next group and so forth until it came to me. I couldn't believe it. I started out not having a chance in hell on making the flight to come down to being by myself.
The flight took off at 1130 and I pulled into the house at 345.
It was a very long and tiring trip but I am glad to be home and so happy to be able to say "I CLIMBED MT. FUJI!!!".