Friday, September 10, 2010

Mt. Fuji- The ultimate climb. Day 16-18 Japan

"When you are on a journey, it is certainly helpful to know where you are going or at least the general direction in which you are moving, but don't forget; the only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That's all there ever is" E. Tolle

We arrived at K's hostel in Fuji on 9/7 it was 8am in the morning and we wanted to attempt to climb up that day but we were on 0 hours of sleep from our overnight bus. So we decided to wait till we were caught up on sleep and go the next day. Unfortunately the next day we were rained in caused by the typhoon so we decided to stay one more night at K's and wait to see what the whether would be like the next day.

We wanted to be productive so we sat and researched our trip to China. Tickets are officially booked and we leave for Beijing on the 13th. After our next destination was booked we lounged around in the living room reading books and we met Bill who is originally from NJ but lives in Chicago. We amused him by telling him about our adventures so far and who we have met and the temples and shrines we visited. The conversation then lead to relationships and family and personal life. After the conversation Eden and I took some time to take it all in and wonder about life and our futures. For the time being we are going to live in the now and keep on traveling.

We ended the night with a couple of beers and played some drinking card games with Bill. I also ended up befriending this girl Andrea, from Canada, and she was waiting for the rain to pass to hike up Mt. Fuji and found out she was staying at the same hut as us.

I wanted to be extremely prepared for this trek up the mountain so I packed my camelbak back pack, brought a first aid kit, food, headlamp, hiking boots, hiking clothing and a knife. 

The original plan: Take the bus from Kawaguchico station to Mt. Fuji 5th station, Climb up to Mt. Fuji Summit to watch the sunset, climb back down to 8th station Gansomoro hut to sleep, wake up at 2:30 am to climb back up to the summit to watch the sunrise and then climb back down.

What actually happened: The bus dropped us off at the Mt. Fuji 5th station and we started the hike up to the summit. At first we figured that it was a pretty easy walk heading up to the 6th station. Well we thought wrong. After the 6th station there are jagged rocks and you are pretty much climbing at your own risk. There are no stairs and there is barely anything to hold on to.

Once we reached the 7th station Andrea, Eden and I befriended these 2 British men Robert and Pete. Robert was a cocky "peculiar" (inside joke) fellow but he was funny and amusing. Pete was more of the silent type but you could just tell he was a good guy. They had reservations to stay at the hut that was further up from ours but once we reached Gansomoro hut at the 8th station they decided to cancel their reservations and stay with us. We took a quick break and started back up to the summit to see the sunset.

I don't know what happened, but I think an old lacrosse wound made its back way to my knee or I can thank my father for inheriting his weak knees, but after we passed the 8th station my left knee was done. This pain was just unreal and I was having difficulty walking. I kept having to take numerous breaks. Robert was waiting for me to see if I was ok and we ended up sitting and cutting up a glove to tie around my knee to put some pressure on it. It really did not do much but hey we tried. He also thought it was amusing to call me JLO when I put on my designer sunglasses that I got at century21 and made fun of me for having a peg leg. Thanks Robert. He called me JLO for the remainder of the trip.

Anyways I told them all to continue up the mountain and I would do my thing on my own time. I kept taking breaks and each rock I sat down at I kept looking up and making goals for myself to get to the next rock. I was determined to reach the summit.

Injured knee or not I was making it up the mountain and I did it!!! I got up there just in time to watch the sun set. We took pictures and shared some whiskey. Now let me tell you once the sun sets on the mountain the temperature drops big time and it turns dark like the snap of a finger. Andrea was getting really cold so she decided to head out earlier while Eden and I continued to celebrate with the Brits and whiskey.

Eventually we needed to work our way down from the summit back to the hut. You would think that the walk down would be easier than the hike up... think again. 1. It was dark and we could not see very well. 2. the rocks are slippery and if you are not careful you could seriously injure yourself or die. We all had flashlights and skidded down the mountain. It took us 2 hours to get back to our hut were chicken curry and tea were waiting for us. We sat and ate our meals and Robert and Pete were nice enough to buy us beers which were insanely expensive on top of the mountain everything was really expensive up there btw. But anyways we had a good victory meal, we laughed, the Brits made fun of us and we made fun of them. I laughed so hard I cried. Good times.

Now let me tell you about this hut. You basically sleep like you are in a sardine can. It looks like there are 2 large wooden shelves and they cover the top and bottom with these fur blanket. There are a row of people sleeping next to each other on the bottom and a row of people on top. You literally are packed up tightly next to the person sleeping next to you. They then give you a small pillow that is covered in plastic that felt like it was filled with beans and a warm blanket. We decided to dominate one of the top bunks and I had difficulty sleeping thanks to the awful pillow and my knee started to swell. I took some pain killers and we all decided that we were not going to hike up the mountain again to see the sun rise. Once you go up there you realize how much work it is and time just to get to the summit.

With little sleep we were woken up around 4am at the hut to watch the sunrise. We walked outside and it was amazing to realize that we were above the clouds watching the sun come up with everyone from the hut. What a beautiful and magnificent site it was unreal. We then headed back to bed and were told we needed to check out by 8am. We woke up at 7am to eat our breakfast which consisted of salmon, rice and a packet of stuff. Inside the packet was beef and it looked and smelled like dog food. Eden saw my face and knew I would not eat it so luckily I had a leftover pb&j sandwich and paid for a $4.00 dixie cup of hot chocolate.

We packed up our things and headed back down to the mountain. When we reached the bottom we said goodbye to our British friends, hopped on a bus back to the hostel, took showers, and then got on another bus back to Tokyo. We are now staying at K's hostel Oasis in Tokyo. Its a Friday night and we went out for burgers, doing laundry and heading to bed. What an amazing day and experience. Good night!