|The view from the fifth station.|
We planned our trip to Tokyo during the summer climbing season, but Amanda informed me she would not be making the trek with me. We found friends who did want to climb: our neighbor Dave and one of my best friends Asa who flew all the way from the states for this experience.
We traveled with a tour group that Amanda booked. The group left from our hotel lobby at two in the morning. When we arrived at the mountain it was still dark, around four a.m, and a brisk breeze was blowing. Some of our fellow hikers scoffed at our shorts, t-shirts, and very light layers from beneath their heavy parkas. We purchased our fuji sticks (a souvenir hiking stick that you can have have branded at the different stations on your ascent) and, in our impatience to get ahead of the slower group, we set off on our path. Turns out it was the wrong path.
|Sunrise from above the clouds.|
"Where did you come from?" I asked our tour guide.
"The only authorized trail. Where did YOU come from?" she asked in response. We had no good answer.
As our tour group stopped to shed their heavy winter jackets now that their bodies had warmed during the climb (hah! We win!), the three of us raced off again to keep ahead of the group. This time we followed the signs.
The entrance to the summit is guarded by a torii gate. We stopped to take pictures and made the final ascent. The view from the top, despite being nothing but clouds, was still breathtaking. We purchased a traditional bowl of hot noodles and our last brand for the sticks and admired the caldera. We had plenty of time to make our way down before the bus left.
|A reminder that this serene mountain is actually an active volcano.|
The climb was a great experience made even more so by getting to do it with my friends, but I truly understand the famous Japanese proverb. "A wise man will climb Mt. Fuji once; A fool will climb Mt. Fuji twice."