Standing in the center of the plaza at Station 5 on Mount Fuji we listened to our tour guide introduce our mountain guide, an older gentleman who began by telling us several things that seemed contrary to what I had learned previously about higher altitudes. Don't drink too much water and don't use the oxygen that we had purchased in the event of altitude sickness.
|Our mountain guide.|
The water issue was hard to believe though and I wondered if something had gotten lost in translation. I'm a big water baby. I drink a lot normally. And when we visited Quito, Ecuador, we'd been advised that we should drink an ample amount of fluid, mainly water, to fend off the effects of altitude. All the preparation lists had said to take plenty of water or be prepared to buy it along the way at the huts. I figured we'd see how it went but I wasn't backing off my water.
It was expected that we would climb for six hours. Wait! Six hours? What I had read and saw on YouTube said it was only a two hour climb to Station eight. So I figured we must be going very slowly. Good news for me. I knew I'd be slow.
We started down. Yes, that's right. Down. The first part of the trail actually went down for a spell before starting it's incline. Once we started climbing there was no more level ground except around the stations and huts. It wasn't long before I was huffing and puffing and falling behind. The trail wasn't bad and had some steps in spots but it was unrelenting in its incline.
|This was the easy part.|
The tour guide who was bringing up the rear of our group to be sure no one was left behind came up to me with all the enthusiasm of the college-aged kid he was and asked if he could carry my backpack for me. I declined. I know. I'm stubborn but I hated to put my burden on someone else. I persevered.
And I drank more water.
And then I was promoted -- to the front of the line.