"" Writer's Wanderings: A Look Back: Climbing Mount Fuji

Thursday, August 20, 2020

A Look Back: Climbing Mount Fuji

[ The most challenging travel adventure I can remember was climbing the iconic Mount Fuji. While it is not a steep grade (except for maybe one small area, it is a constant grade ever upward. The whole object is to get to the top by nightfall, stay in one of the lodges and then watch the sunrise. Of course then it's all downhill which no one told me would be even more physically challenging. I did it with two bad knees that weren't any better after all of this. Still it was with our son and grandchildren and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. Here's the first post from then.]

Some time ago when we were planning our trip to Japan to visit our son and his family, we casually threw out the suggestion that we should all climb Mt. Fuji. The idea grew and so we packed clothes we thought appropriate for the climb and bought trekking boots and a walking stick for me and our son and his wife looked into booking the trip.

Thankfully they planned the climb for several days after our arrival because we were going to need all the energy we could muster. The youngest granddaughter stayed home with mom but our nine year old grandson and twelve year old granddaughter thought they could make it so the five of us woke up early Thursday morning and set off with our backpacks for our rendezvous with the tour bus.

Station 5 - The starting point
We took the train to the Tokyo Station to meet with our tour group. We checked in with them and then were taken to a staging area where people were divided into more groups and assigned buses for the trip to the mountain. Our tour guide tried to talk to us in English and was doing fairly well but was totally relieved to discover that our granddaughter spoke Japanese and would translate. (Our son speaks fairly good Japanese but relies on her for the correct forms to be polite.) The guide led us to the "orange" bus (which he said clearly) and we got into our assigned seats.

Already in the clouds.
The bus trip was a little over three hours with an interesting stop at a rest stop along the way. It was a huge place, lots of cars, trucks, and buses. There was a large restroom with a board at the entrance that lit up to show which stalls were open and which were occupied. There had to be at least 40 or more stalls. But of course there was a line for the ladies. Our granddaughter discovered that one whole corridor of stalls was closed for cleaning and that was what had made the line.

Supplied with a few snack purchases from the mercantile, we boarded the bus again for the rest of the trip out into the countryside and up the mountain. The land was so beautiful outside the city. Lakes and water and lots of trees. The ascent by bus to the starting point of our climb, Station 5, began and our experienced driver took us up the switchbacks with ease.

The expedition crew (my son took the picture)
We arrived at Station 5 around 11:30 or so and checked the bags of clothes into a locker for changing after the trip (something I'd neglected to plan on). At the restaurant, we had lunch. Mine was a delicious miso soup with nice chunks of vegetables in it. Soon we were taking a deep breath (we were already at about 2400 meters--around 6,000 feet) but the altitude didn't bother us too much--until we started climbing.

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