MOUNT FUJI

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We all climbed Mt Fuji yesterday.  It took 7 hours to go up and 3 1/2 to come down. This will be a long one .
 
The day started very early. I wanted to leave at 4 and Lyndon said 5 so we compromised and said 4:30. Of course it was more like 4:40 AM.  We were off!! The drive to Mt Fuji should be about an hour and a half.  We plugged in the 5th station number in the GPS but had a paper with rough directions too.  Everything was fine until it said we had arrived at our destination and Mt Fuji was on our left still. Now we are asking directions to people who don’t speak English.  The first group told us to keep going and turn left.  We kept going but there was no left to take. We finally saw a map and decided we needed to go back  in the other direction.  We finally stopped again and someone was able to finally give us correct directions. It was very “muzukashi desu ” he said.  (difficult)  I am not sure if he meant the climb or the drive.  Anyway we were finally on the right path up the mountain.  At one point on the road they had built in ridges that play a song when you drive over them. It was really cool.  When we got through the gate and were driving up, they said the 5th station parking was closed so we had to park on the side of the road and walk 30 more minutes. When we  got out of the car I looked down and saw that my hiking boots had “exploded”.  All the seams had split and the rubber was cracked open. I do not know if it was the altitude or what but they were fine when we left the house.  So now we were late starting AND my shoes were falling apart.  We decided to walk up to the station and see if they had any duct tape . I had athletic tape if  nothiing else.  We looked around but did not find any so I taped up my shoes and looked like a fool.  Luckily Lyndon spotted a mont-belle sign on one of the shops. Mont -belle is an outdoor store like EMS. They had a little corner of supplies and three pairs of boots. Thank goodness I have Japanese size feet and one pair fit!  I really did not care what they cost at that point. We bought them and I threw away the others.
So we were off. My ideal was to be climbing at 6:00 am it was now 8:20.  I am not the best when my plans don’t go  as I plan them.  Usually when you climb Mt Fuji you pack all kinds of weather gear. You have to be ready for very cold at the top and rain if the weather would change.  Well, it was very hot that day but we still packed pants, jackets, rain gear, hats, gloves , water and snacks.  Everyone had their own backpack and walking sticks. So our bags were pretty full.  We started walking …. and walking…. and walking….It was very hot. Catherine was actually in just her tank top.  After a while we stopped for a snack….then kept walking…It really is a lot harder than you think.  You take zig zags  up the mountain. Sometimes you can only take a  zig and a zag before you have to stop and take a breath.  One part is all climbing up rocks.  You really have to be careful with your footing.After several hours and many complaints about legs hurting, being tired (Sarah had a football game the night before and did not get home until 12:30), not being able to take another step…I decided to take Michael’s backpack and carry it too so it would help him out.  At the 8th station there are still three more hours of climbing to the top.  I told Michael I would carry his back pack to the 9th station.  It felt like hours before we got there.  I actually switched out for a while before the ninth and then took it back a  little later. At 8.5  Lyndon decided to just stay there and let us go on. He had already been up to the top and his legs were really hurting. Now I  had all 4 to motivate. Emily  never complained a bit. She was always ahead of all of us and in her groove.  The rest took turns breaking down and motivating each other.  I thought Catherine was going to turn around at one point and go back to Lyndon. We really had to pull it together to make it to the top.  We finally made it to the top. It took almost 7 hours!!!  It was tough but we were all so excited to make it to the top.  It was such an accomplishment.We had thought the noodle and curry stalls would be open and we could get something to eat but nothing was open.  We stayed at the top awhile and had a few snacks and more water but then decided we needed to keep going and headback down to meet up with Lyndon. We did not want it to be too dark when we got to the bottom. I was nervous we would miss Lyndon somewhere too.  We were hiking down and Catherine could spot Lyndon pretty quickly.  Going down is really strange.  You are walking basically through lava rocks. It is really sandy and rocky. You kind of sink into it.  You have to almost zig zag like you are skiing down a mountain (based on all my experience doing that???)It is really hard on your knees and feet. This is where most people bruise their toe nails and end up losing some.
We have a great picture as we were coming down , the sun was casting the shadow of Mt Fuji in  the clouds.  It started getting dark and we were really getting tired.  We decided to focus on getting to the fifth station and getting something to eat. We had not eaten anything of substance all day.  We got to the 5th station at about 7:15.  Nothing was open!!!!  We could not believe that all the restaraunts and gift shops were closed.  You can only imagine how quickly our spirits dropped at  that point. We were tired, dirty and hungry.  We bought some drinks in a vending machine and two bags of snacks in the one place open.  I decided to offer to go get the car and come back up for them. Emily said she would go with me.  It was pitch black and we took only our flashlight and keys. As we were walking I realized I should have brought at least a cell phone. Part of the way down the road was blocked. We asked to make sure we could get back up to pick up  everyone. The police said “Dame”  No we could not drive back up.  We really did not want to have to walk back up 20 minutes and get everyone to walk back down with us.  ANother officer heard us and he said if we were going to pick up and return it was ok.  We were very  appreciative.  We kept walking.  I said to Emily, “Now all we need to top off this day is for my battery to be dead in the car”  We kept walking.  Finally we found our car.  As I punched the unlock button, nothing happened!! I can still feel that horrible feeling in my stomach when I realized, yes my car battery was dead!!!! Here we are, Emily and I , on the side of a pitch black road on the side of the mountain.  My phone was in the car but there was no service.  We tried flagging people down. Seeing two crazy American women was probably not going to entice many Japanese. Many cars passed. A taxi slowed down then kept going when he realized we needed help. What seemed like 20 minutes but was probably 5-10 minutes, finally a car stopped.  He had jumper cables and knew what he was doing. He asked what kind of engine.  I just flashed the flashlight at the engine. He got us started. We tried asking his name or address. I would have paid him but all I had was 300 yen or a 10000 yen .  That is the equivalent of $3 or $100.  We would have hugged him but we were so gross , sweaty, dirty, etc and Japanese just don’t do that.Many arigato goziamasu.  I know God sent him to help us.  Finally we  got in the car and drove up to the top to get the rest of the family. They were getting ready to be worried about us. They had tried calling but no service too.  We drove straight home and ordered pizza to pick up on the way home. We finally got home at 10:15 and finally had something to eat!! Dominoes pizza never tasted so good.
 
The next day we all were sore but able to move. We actually biked to church in the neighborhood later that night.  Overall, it was an experience we will never forget and probably never do again. Lyndon gets lots of credit for doing it twice.
 
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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Amy
    Nov 13, 2010 @ 19:12:00

    I am just now reading your Mt. Fuji story.
    OMG!
    First of all, congratulations for making it to the top and back down again. What an amazing accomplishment! Your story was great… first the boots, then the hike, then the dark, then the battery. You had a lot of bad, then good luck!
    Hope you are all doing well. We are fine and dandy. Girls are having a great year at school. I am loving working in 4th grade at RBS. Bill is keeping busy.
    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We are staying local.
    My whole family is coming to visit the weekend PRIOR to thanksgiving. That was the only way we could work it out.
    Hugs to all,
    Amy Roth

    Reply

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