Monday, September 12, 2011

Fuji: The Idiot Trip

What I've heard about Mount Fuji:

You have to do it once.
If you do it twice, you're an idiot.
The third time, you're a professional.

This was our second trip. Surprisingly, it wasn't as awful as it was last year. It still sucked, just not as much.

We met with the rest of our group early (5 people total, no triathletes this year*) and were on the road to Fuji-san by sunrise.

*Seeing someone jog up a mountain while you struggle to breathe and continue to put one foot in front of the other really makes you feel inadequate.

Too early.

Same 3-hour drive, same full parking lot, same parking spot found on the side of the road 2km (about 1.25mi) below Station 5, our first stop. A few car lengths closer than last year. It wasn't much, but I'll take victories where we can get them.
We haven't started climbing the mountain yet. This is the view from where we parked.

Husband and I made sure everybody else bought their souvenir climbing stick and New Best Friend at Station 5 and up we went.

I think part of the reason it wasn't so bad this year was that they've done some trail maintenance recently. 
Maybe I'm ever so slightly more in shape. I'm not sure, but I moved a little faster and Husband wasn't prone to running in circles around me. We even managed to more or less stay as a group, which was nice.

We saw this random guy and he was nice enough to let me take his picture. He is my hero. We were complaining about how hard the climb was even before we got to Station 6, but this guy did the same climb at the same speed with his kid on his back!
This guy is awesome. このおとこの人はすごいですよ!

We didn't see a wide variety of butterflies this year, but we saw several of these:
What does it eat? Rocks? Clouds? There's nothing else up there.

Making progress...

Yes, these are technically steps. But they're so tall that I'm not sure if they make the climb easier or harder.

I drank enough water that I had to give in and use the restroom at one of the stations. To my surprise, they weren't at all dirty and nasty. In fact, they look like space bathrooms.

Lights and buttons! It took me a couple minutes to figure out whether or not anyone was in there based on the lights and then how to open the door. I've never been in a rest room that required safety measures. Or whatever it is that makes you press the button to open the door to get in.

Apparently they're composting toilets. Neat.
And if you don't press the button on the inside, you can't leave.


Onward and upward! Making more progress.

I didn't see this last time. I've seen these in cemeteries, they're sort of like statues of spirit guides for children who have died. People dress them up in red and bring them little gifts sometimes so their child will get special attention from the kami. I'm not sure what it represents in this context.

I was a little jealous of this guy taking a nap, but we had to keep going.

Still a long way to go, but we can see the tori gate at the summit! Thank goodness.

やった! Yattaaaaaaa!  We made it!

We are pretty proud of having done this twice.
We got our sticks branded to commemorate the summit (plus our second doodad to hang off the end, it's probably a good luck charm. It comes with the brand.) and decided as a group that we felt good enough to wander up to the weather station, the highest point on the summit.

There is surprisingly little to see up there, you can't even go inside the building.

There was a sign directing people to an observation platform, I thought that might be cool.

I changed my mind when I saw how sketchy this ramp was and that there was striped do-not-enter tape across the way at the end.

It was cold and raining and we needed to get a move on so we wouldn't be stuck on the mountain after dark.
There were some breaks in the rain between the top and halfway down, but the last two hours were solid rain. The last hour of that was flat out downpour.

Total time last year was (I believe) six hours up and three down. This year was more like five and a half hours up and two and a half hours down.
2km walk back to the car. Of course NOW there are parking spots.
We even made it back to the car before sunset! Go team!

That night, I was tired and Husband was nauseous and unhappy. The next day our muscles were sore, but we recovered pretty quickly. Not so bad.

It's awful, it's terrible, we'll do it again next year.

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