Where: Mt Fuji, Japan
I’ve climbed my first mountain.
Mt Fuji isn’t known for being terribly tough, but everyone has to start somewhere right? It was pretty touristy in the beginning, with many shops and groups and such, and the trails were pretty crowded as well – it reminded me of the Grand Canyon in this way. But as we got higher up and the vegetation started giving way to sharp rocks (Fuji is a volcano after all) the crowds thinned out into only those that intended to climb. Not that many of these people were actually good climbers; we noticed that many of the ones with the best gear had the worst climbing manners or the worst stamina, taking frequent breaks.
Fuji was also pretty cloudy the first day we hiked – we literally hiked in dense cloud cover for a few hours. But the view one we climbed out of it was spectacular! Weather was nice and crisp too, cold enough to keep us from overheating but not too much to freeze us. We made great time and made it to the but we were staying at near the top just in time for dinner, and then straight to bed, for we had a 02:00 wake up call the next day! That might sound crazy, especially after climbing most of a mountain, but we were promised it would be worth it.
So 02:00 comes and we bundle up in several layers because it is now below freezing outside. We hike up about an hour to reach summit and hunker down for the main event – sunrise. There were a few hundred other people with us and it was clear to us why: sunrise is really just that good. You get a great view of it coming up over a few mountains, Tokyo, a lake, and more. I almost froze my fingers off trying to get as many pictures as possible!
After, it should have been an easy descent down, but we took a few wrong turns and literally ended up on the wrong side of the mountain. It was really all more confusing than it should have been, and we weren’t the only ones to make that mistake (an expensive one that required a taxi back to the right station).
Now, I’m tired, sore, and smell terrible, but it was all worth it – that was easily one of the top sunrises I’ve ever seen, and I summited my first mountain!