‘A wise man climbs Mount Fuji once, a fool climbs it twice.’
I don’t think I want to be that fool but you never know.
What a decision to make to go to Japan on my first solo trip ever and decide to hike up the highest volcanic mountain Mount Fuji.
I decided to contact Fuji Mountain guides which is an accredited hiking tour and takes groups up Mount Fuji. You can even rent hiking gear from them too.
So I flew to Tokyo a day before the start of the hike and chose the Hyatt Regency just outside Tochomae station which was the meeting point of the group on 2nd August at 6.45 am.
Sleep was my enemy the previous night and I landed up at 5.55 am at the meet up point out of sheer excitement and nervousness too.
We were a mixed group of 18 with people from Germany, Denmark, France, USA and Canada with a Puerto Rican guide who lives in Tokyo and an an American guide who is born and brought up in Tokyo.
So yes it was nice meeting absolute strangers who looked like they had hiked loads of mountains before. But I wanted to hike up Mount Fuji and nothing was going to stop me, not even a very low heart rate, low cholesterol levels, low protein levels and what not from a body checkup( which I came to know a few days before the hike scaring me a teensy Weensy bit) .
We took the bus to Gotemba station picked a few more hikers to make the total 18.
We then reached the Mount Fuji Subashiri 5th station and started our ascent.
At first I felt a bit dizzy and weird cause the heavyweight of my backpack was killing me.
I had never hiked with a backpack filled with clothes and water and other knickknacks needed for hiking. As a result the bag weighed over 7 kilos.
But I decided to go slow and steady. After coming this far how could I turn back.
We climbed the rocky paths all greyish black, flora and fauna of varied colours sprouting up from the ground. Rocks covered some of the path.
It was an uphill climb….if you’ve seen the picture of Mount Fuji you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
We did take a stop at the 6th station then climbed up further and further toll about 4.30 pm till we reached 3400 meters height of Mount Fuji at the Fujisan mountain hut where we were assigned our sleeping area and given lovely hot Japanese dinner and then were told to hit the sack by 7.30 pm as we had to awaken at 2 am to again start the ascent to the summit of Mount Fuji and also to experience the first sunrise of the world at 4.55 am.
It was really cold at the top where we spent the night.
2 am we were up, all washed and ready with our winter hiking gear, our head lamps and some water to climb the beautiful, majestic Mount Fuji. The cold winds grazed our faces, teeth chattering, fingers numbed by the cold in spite of the cold, myriads of hikers with their headlamps lit the way. It was a pretty sight. Our group took a detour and we climbed through a path less travelled.
The sky full of stars looked so beautiful. I spotted the polar bear up in the sky and the moon looked resplendent lighting our dark path.
We trudged and trudged and we could see a line of orange covering the darkness across the sky.
We knew the sun was near. Finally we reached the summit and waited patiently for the sun to rise and when it did, everyone cheered . It was an overwhelming and inexplainable feeling. I got to experience the first sunrise in the land of the rising sun.
It was magnificent. We stayed up there for over 30 minutes but it was extremely cold.
Finally we descended to the hut for breakfast and had to then descend back to the fifth station. Oh man that was a killer.
It was like skiing through slopes filled with rubble and rocks and if you missed you fell. I fell twice and the second time I found it extremely tough to stand up as the backpack was heavy. Luckily my hiking rods supported me on both days of this hike.
A sweet Japanese man tried to teach me skiing on these slopes of Mount Fuji but to no avail. His efforts went in vain. I was doing a jig more than skiing. But I did reach the 5th station. I couldn’t feel my feet. My thighs and calves ached.
But I Did It.
I climbed up Mount Fuji 3776 meters high and it was the best feeling ever.
I can’t imagine that I could do it but I did. Thanks to the almighty whom I constantly called out to every step of the way and I only ensured that positive thoughts filled my mind. I was afraid of the altitude sickness, the upset stomach which followed me up ,the early morning climb and the low heart rate scare. But I am fine and back in Hong Kong sharing my experience with you all.