Aug 27th, 2001, 7pm
Mt. Fuji’s Rocks – not Fuji Rock Festival
It’s about 7pm and I’ve just risen. I was up all night and morning tackling Japan’s highest peak; the symbolic Mt. Fuji. About 2pm I got home feeling tired, a little sore and smelling pretty bad. The evening began with a bus ride from Shinjuku to Climbing Station No. 5, a common starting point for novices and tourists at 2300 meters. More experienced hikers can ascend from station no. 1 at about 1400m.
After getting supplies; water and a hiking stick complete with bells I was off at 10pm. The climb wasn’t so eventful. Hiking alone isn’t recommended in most guide books, but was no hindrance. I was free to stop, relax, drink or eat whenever on the lower, wider trails. As I ascended higher I came across slower traffic as the trails became narrower. I was shocked to find elderly people and young children climbing. Near station number 9 I got a little headache but after a short break and some water it passed. The last section was extremely narrow, steep and slow. I could see a snake of torches slithering down the mountainside.
On arriving at the top about 4am, I changed out my sweaty clothes (spare clothes is a must), had a bowl of hot ramen and sent some postcards to family and friends back in OZ. I highly recommended the ramen, not for the taste and price but for providing energy and warmth to my tired body. It wasn’t exactly freezing on top but at 5℃ you can’t be too careful. The postcards, including special postage stamp, are just a gimmick but when in Rome… … After a short respite, I circumnavigated the crown of the volcano. It took just over an hour and was both breathtaking and terrifying. The colors of the rocks were so unique, the views above and below the clouds amazing, all while educating me of mother nature’s tremendous powers.
The descent was tough. The downward trails were similarly as steep, loose-rocked and dusty as the upward ones yet much more difficult to navigate. Some adrenalin junkies practically ran down, while others like me patiently found the most solid-looking course. I had a couple of slips, caused mostly by exhaustion and poor balance. When I arrived at station no. 5, I jumped on the first Shinjuku bus I could find, and shut my eyes. Hope I didn’t snore.
Finally, and my apologies for being negative. Those little bells were so annoying. Mine drove me crazy in only 20 minutes. I thought hiking was supposed to be peaceful and relaxing? However much I spent was worth the view from the top and then some.