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The Land of the Rising Sun & Onto Mt. Fuji's Summit!

Fuji Travel Blog

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Mt Fuji, Japan 2009: Sunrise

Forget personal hygiene. The sunrise was amazing. The air was thin. There is a lack of oxygen evident when we start the climb. And reaching the summit was a surreal experience.

We were woken up by one of the staff, letting us know it was sunrise and time was up. We grabbed our cameras and saw an amazing sunrise from Mt. Fuji's 7th Station. Heavily surrounded by clouds, the sun rose with drama as the clouds capture the sun's colors on the horizon. Snap! Snap! We attempted to capture the rising sun - successful? See the pictures!

After a few minutes, we washed our faces, brushed our teeth, and grabbed our things to continue our hike. Destination: the summit!

Whoa! Right behind the mountain hut where we stayed overnight, the trail was no joke.

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The trail felt more like a rock climbing trail than hiking.

Our heart rate accelerated once we started walking, and as we rest, it goes down to normal. The air is thinning. Lack of oxygen was making it difficult to keep a faster pace that we wanted to do, and so, we decided to just take our time. The hike between the 7th station and 8th station was estimated to be 1.5 hours. As we stopped at every mountain hut to rest, the 8.5 station is where we took most of our time. It was also the last station with mountain huts since the 9th Station does not have one.

It was just Matt and I now. Mike needed a long break and I felt that if I linger too long around the last mountain hut around the 8th station, I wouldn't have the motivation to keep on going. At the 8.

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5 Station, I was hungry! I opened the bento box we received as our breakfast from the mountain hut we stayed at that night. It consists of 2 onigiri, some pickled veggies, and a mini can drink - coffee or tea or something it was. I ate the onigiri and drank water instead. After about 10 minutes, we continued on.

On more hour and we'd reach the summit. From the 8.5 station, it was estimated to take 30minutes.

It was becoming windy. Foggy. Along with other hikers, we found ourselves leaning against the wall whenever there was a strong gust of wind. The flat terrain has changed into a red-orange rocky trail. As wind blows, dust particles slapped our faces and neck. I felt my hand started to get really cold. My hair, despite being tied, was running wild whenever there was a gust of wind.

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The moisture in the air was unpalpable. Frost were evident on my eyelashes, and most of all, my hair. I put on the hood of my jacket from time to time with the strong winds, but it was annoying me and I had difficulty seeing ahead of me. I felt my movements getting restricted  and I always feel like being claustrophobic with too much stuff around me - so I had it off more than on.

Then finally, we saw a wooden torii flanked with two statues of animals (I can't remember what they are at the moment - see the pictures instead). A few hikers were resting on the steps and I sigh with relief. We're here!

A few more steps up and we saw the temple entrance. The summit's temple is well visited by hikers. I took a peek inside but decided not to go in. Matt and I took pictures before we looked for a place to rest.

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There were several huts that lined the summit rim. We initially wanted to go around the summit rim - estimated time: 60 minutes. However, the foggy and windy environment, Matt's worsening headache, us being cold weren't the motivation we needed. Alternative: get my walking stick stamped, get food, get warm!

Other stations along the trail only charges 200yen for a stamp, but the summit charged 300yen. Oh well. I was on the summit. Who cares about another 300 yen!

After getting it stamped, we headed back to the mountain hut where we saw a lot of people resting. We asked what food they have and ramen seems to be the only thing they serve from the popular requests we heard from everyone. There was also a big wok with boiling water that serves as a reheating mechanism for canned coffees and teas.

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Matt and I ordered two miso ramen, cost: 800yen, and found seats inside. It was warm in the hut so I took of my jacket and looked around the place. Flags form different countries adorned the walls there was even a sticker type that says 'I <3 NY' on the wall as well. Awesome!

While we wait, we got ourselves comfortable. When we received our ramen, we greedily consumed it. Yes, it was an expensive bowl of ramen for something so simple but we didn't care.  It wasn't the best ramen but hey, we were cold and we were at the summit of Mt Fuji!

The weather was looking bad outside and after 30 minutes, Matt and I decided to leave. The hike down was long. At 9th station, the trail divided into two - an ascending trail and descending trail.

On the descending trail, a thick layer of snow was still present, melting and creating a moist black, sandy trail.

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I saw that the blocks of ice have been marked by other hikers so I wanted to leave one as well. With my walking stick, similar when I was in Egypt, I wrote down 10 letters. NYC. JHE. FUJI.  I wonder how long it lasted.

Past the snow line, the terrain changed into orange,-colored, dry, rocky and sandy trail. The clouds from the summit seems to be going down as well. Several gusts of wind made it difficult for my feet to get a hold of the ground and I fell twice. Ouch! Small, pebble-like rocks dug into my palms but wasn't that bad. Just annoying. And it stings! There were few strong gusts that carried the sandy soil and hit us from behind. That was painful!

The trail became drier, but still windy. I took off my jacket as I was getting hot. At the point we saw patches of green, we were excited.

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Problem. Matt and I are running out water. So we made do by trying not to drink any. By the time we reached the 7th station area, we ran ou  of water! Ugh! And it was very hot! Then I noticed something.  My left hand was edematous! It was swollen while my right hand was not. Disturbing and worrisome, I started squeezing my hand and lifting my arm to help the fluids move and flow through my arm.

We knew we were close when we reached the 6th station, where the trail merged again and crowds of people were hanging out. Most of them were obviously from tour groups- all nicely dressed for hiking but doesn't seem to be hiking. Hmm... Some where in suits! Hahaha... That was funny.

But I was exhausted. And most of all I was thirsty! I needed to rest more often because the heat was stifling.

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Matt urges me on. And finally, the big torri was there. The entrance to the trail... our exit. A few pictures and we rushed to where the vending machines were located. We purchased a couple of bottles of what I thought was water - which turned out to be some type of lemonade. And a couple of minutes later, we saw Mike!

He told us that he reached the 9th station but couldn't go on because it was too cold for him - he was only wearing a couple layer of shirts and a windbreaker, before we decided to head back down. And he was only about 30-45 minutes ahead of us!

It was already half past 1 in the afternoon. Matt and I were hungry, but Mike had already eaten. Furthermore, the next shuttle to the bus/station station was leaving in 15 minutes. We had no time!

Instead, we rehydrated and took the 45-minute ride back to the bus/train station.

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It filled us temporarily - for now.

When we reached the station, we purchased our bus tickets back to Mishima Station. Since other alternative routes were longer, we decided to take the same route we did the day before. That gave us 1 hour to wait. We ordered food - I had some type of beef stew with rice.

After eating, I changed out of my disgusting hiking clothes. Thankfully, I brought a packet of wipes that helped me cleanse the dirt off my face and feet. I had a spare shirt and the jeans I wore on the way to Mt Fuji. The dirt went thru my sneakers and socks! Disgusting! Then, there was the challenge of untangling my hair. There were dirt and sand on my scalp. Ugh! I couldn't wait for that shower! After a few minutes that felt like hours and evil looks from the lady who seems to be in charge of maintaining th ebathroom, I left, slightly more presentable and felt slightly better.

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The bus back to Mishima took 2 hours. It was a scenic route through the small towns of Mt Fuji through the forest, Gotemba, Hakone, and Mishima. We easily caught the next shinkansen and less  than 10 minutes later, we were back on Shin-Fuji station, where we picked up our respective luggages at the lockers, and 30 minutes later, the next shinkansen for Nagoya arrived. We caught a super-express Kodama which only took 1.5 hours instead of the 2 hours.

We arrived in Nagoya station. It was night but very humid. Gone was the cool breeze and nice temperature from Mt Fuji, back to the humid summer of Japan's big cities.

We caught a cab to our hotel located in Sakae, The B Nagoya.

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We checked-in and took long, cold, fantastic shower to get rid of the dirt and grime from the hike. I probably washed and shampoo my hair 4 times before I was satisfied.

The reality that I just was able to hike and reach Mt Fuji's summit still didn't sink in.

An hour and a half later, we went out for dinner. And that was a hilarious experience in itself.

LostInSpace2010 says:
Guys, you are my heroes! At first I thought that Mike would be the toughest one but it was you and Matt! Wow, great job! =)
Posted on: Aug 04, 2010
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photo by: jennjeff1