Sunday, October 14, 2012

Mount Fuji! 富士山!(Until 8th Station..!)


Mount Fuji really is a sight to behold. It is known worldwide for it's tall shape and is an icon in Japan. 
The mountain represents more than just a difficult hike. The mountain is, and has forever been sacred and climbing up it a pilgrimage.

Most of the climbers will begin their journey at the 5th station. You can approach the mountain from different 5th stations. We took the Subaru route.

It is very rare for hikers and climbers to start at the very bottom of the mountain (1st station), although our tour guide told us that the week before, some of the guides had got together to race to the top (from 1st station to summit!). the winner did the whole climb in 2 hours 45 minutes! Our climb was not going to be so fast!

We joined a tour and I would highly recommend this. ( This particular tour was Japanese and we were the only foreigners on board. You would need to speak at least some of the language to get by for this one, but there are plenty of other tours in English too.

The climbing season is just two months long. July and August are the only months without snow (mostly) and the mountain is safe to climb. All of the stations are open too and there are plenty of places to offer you (expensive) food, drinks and, oh, even the toilet trips are pricey!

But we were off! My friend had done the same climb the year before, but this was my first time and it was long overdue!

5th station was incredibly busy. Apparently, not everyone there will climb the mountain, instead, they will shop and shop and raid the stores of their quirky Mount Fuji souvenirs! By the time the bus reached fifth station, we had already made an ascent of 2300m! It hadn't taken us long to get above the clouds. The trip from Tokyo takes less than two hours if you are lucky!

I armed myself with the traditional gimmicky-but-useful-nonetheless walking stick. Mine had a flag for Nippon and oh, I forgot to mention that we were armed with Union Jack flags too on our bags...! I also packed a BIG Union Jack and that was our special treat for the summit!

We also got given a cute green carp from the guide. This was just to mark us as a group could have spotted us from anywhere in any case!!!
We set off on the Subaru route. Our guide was great and he explained everything to us in so much detail. He made us stop on the route every 20 minutes to half hour. I really appreciated this higher up especially as we could get use to the altitude, not to mention eat lots more chocolate!!

Thousands and thousands of people, from all around the world make this hike each summer. Keep watching for more pictures and just see how many PEOPLE there are!!! 
The route is well signposted on the way up. In fact, it is a really well looked after mountain considering its ample size. There are plenty of paths for the bulldozers and they provide everything to the rest stations. We even saw a delivery of futons going up the mountain!

The paths we have (no choice) but to walk on are rugged. Mostly it is rocky, if you are lucky, there is gravel, but there are some slopes too, still with more rock....It is challenging even for the best of the hikers. However, at the start of the mountain, we are treated to some cute flowers and greenery. 

The vegetation doesn't last too long, mind and starts to slowly disappear after the 7th station.


Just a little greenery to savour...

Lovely views the whole way up!

It doesn't take too long to get to the 6th station. I think we stopped two or three times already, so we still had heaps of reserve energy and excitement in us!

What made me sad at the 6th station were the horses. (What is it about mountains and horses?? There was a donkey with our guide at Mount Bromo...)

There were some individual horses carting down the sick or the sheer lazy traveller (and their backpack!!) or there were carts to hold many passengers to be led by just one horse. It is a sad sight to see....

The route up to the other stations was mostly rocky. It was a pain to hike up, especially with the silly stick I had bought! However, not only is this a must-have souvenir, but it is also very useful on the way down!!

Our guide made us take many breaks. Some were just enough for us to drink water and others were enough for us to reach into the food bags and suddenly realise just how hungry we really were!

The trek up to 7th station was a little hard, but at this stage, I still had energy, excitement and lots and lots of chocolate! 7th station comprises of many huts, I think 4 and each has a 'shop, a toilet, and a stop off should you wish to rest your weary feet.

It wasn't long till our own hut, which was at 8th station. It was the last hut and slightly closer to the summit, something we would appreciate in the morning,  I suppose.

Some of the huts had messages for the climbers. Even overcome with fatigue, they will make you smile!
8th Station...but not our hut just yet!

Our giude
 As dusk fell, we slowly reached our destination for the night.
Our hut was so very welcoming indeed. Even the basic curry rice-burger combo we were served was the best meal I had ever eaten!

Our hut was decorated and signed by every visitor!

Heaven!! 8th Station

I think I almost shed a tear for reaching such a height! It was an amazing feeling, but it was nowhere near yet over.....
Happy climbers!!!

We went to bed shortly after dinner and set the alarms for just after midnight (!)

We were due to leave around 1am and still had a bit of a trek ahead of us...

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