Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Our Mt. Fuji experience--it was one of a kind!!

I had a video I tried to upload that we took up on the mountain that shows how windy and crazy the weather was, but unfortunately I couldn't get it to upload. However, a couple of weeks ago, Eric and I and our friends Brandon and Kendal Keith tried to hike Mt. Fuji. Eric did hike Fuji the month after we moved here, but the other 3 of us hadn't. Here in Japan, it is one of those things that you just have to do. The climbing season is from June to August and the mountain is about 2 hours from us. The mountain is divided into 9 stations. Most people start hiking at station 5 and then station 9 is the top. It takes about 6.5 hours to hike to the top. We went up the night before and stayed at a marine base that was an experience in and of itself. Here are some pictures of our trip.

The night before we went out to dinner at their officer's club. I don't know if it was being away from our kids or what, but we had a little too much fun and thought everything was hilarious. We thought it would be so funny to make a sign that had a 9 and then hold it up at all the stations and say we were at station 9--like I said, we were a little slap-happy.
We were the only ones in the O club and had so much fun shooting pool, playing darts--it was a lot of fun. Here we are showing our darts!!
Here are Brandon and Kendal the morning of our climb modeling their "rain gear" they made out of trash bags!!

At station 5 and it is already raining and cold.

Checking out the map to make sure we are going the right way--the trail started off by going down and Kendal and I were convinced we were going the wrong way, but the boys were right and we were on the right path.

By the trail map again--there are 4 different trails that go up to the summit.

Not the prettiest hike, but this is what the first part of the trail looks like--switchbacks on this volcanic gravel. The second half of the mountain you are literally climbing--with it being so rainy and then when the wind would just gust so hard, sometimes I felt like I was going to fall off--I am sure if I had, they would have made a "made-for-t.v." movie about the crazy white girl that fell off Mt. Fuji.

When you climb Mt. Fuji part of the experience is to buy hiking sticks (like the ones we have) and then at every station you get them branded with different japanese characters and pictures. It is really cool. However, you can't read the sign, but it says, it is too wet to brand the sticks. So basically, we have these sticks with nothing on them. Kendal and I are going to buy a wood-burning kit and make our own signs!

I know it looks sunny here, but the clouds would sometimes break for a minute or two and you would think that the weather was getting better and then it would start raining again! It was very deceiving!
Is it Station 9??? No, this is like station 7--but they all look the same, so you can't really tell!!

Stopping to warm up at station 7--who knew cup of noodles and hot chocolate could taste so good!

A group of kids we saw hiking--the japanese are so funny because they are all TOTALLY decked out in their hiking gear and it is all so colorful.

So to end our adventure, we ended up making it to the 8th station and had about 1 1/2 hours left to get to the top and they had closed the mountain--the Japanese guides at the station told us we had to come down and it was too dangerous to continue on. LIke I said, it was freezing cold, rainy and very, very windy. We couldn't even go back down the regular trail (which I was kind of glad, since we had pretty much rocked climbed up), they made us go down the bulldozer trail, which they NEVER usually let people go down. So, even though we didn't make it to the top, I am still counting us as doing it, because if the weather had cooperated we totally would have made it. Despite the crummy weather, we had a blast and really enjoyed ourselves and feel like we had a unique Mt. Fuji experience!!