I woke up early, walked to the train station, got driven by my fellow hikers, and then took a bus to the 5th station of Mt Fuji. There are a total of four paths to hike Fuji, we of course chose the easiest of the three as most do. On the Yoshida course, there are a total of nine stations. These are places where hikers can sit, rest, rent a place to sleep, use the restroom, and eat/drink at ridiculously high prices. The majesty that is Fuji is not immune to the invisible hand.
This gig also scored us a meal. Which was welcoming. It was full on Japanese style at a long table, sitting on the ground, and served on a tray as a set. The thing about a 5 hour rest is that the sun went down. This added a few more problems to the hike. The two most obvious ones are the darkness and the cold. Did I bring pants? Yes. Did I change? No. Why? I have no idea. I went up and down Fuji in shorts. What made the cold bitter was the wind. The wind was like I was near the top of a mountain with nothing to block the gusts. In all honestly though, when I was moving, I was actually hot. I kept removing my hat due to comfort. Darkness was whatever, I bought a head lamp as instructed. I was basically a miner.
To make matters worse this part of the hike is very different. Remember how I mentioned that there are four paths? Well, they all sort of converge at this point so the path is filled with people. You literally take about three steps and then wait for about ten seconds before moving again. This part if extremely easy but extremely slow. I thought my head was going to explode.
Then, just like that, we somehow reached the top. The good part about this was that we had 45 minutes until sunrise. The bad part was that we had 45 minutes until sunrise. There were looooots of people at the top. There are restaurants, vending machines (yes, everything you read about vending machines in Japan is true), and scattered benches. I sat on one of these benches and woke up 40 minutes later. THIS was my single greatest mistake I made on this mountain. I woke up absolutely frozen. I had gloves on but my hands were so damn cold.
We met with the few other which made it to the top and sat down to some top of Fuji ramen. I held the bottom of the bowl for heat on my hands. It felt divine. After checking out the very tippy top, you know like the volcano hole, it was time to head down. As the sun rose high I warmed up pretty quickly. I had been using a summer blanket as a sort of makeshift scarf until then. I both looked and felt like I had destroyed the One Ring. Good riddance.
At this point we had climbed a mountain and now we were heading down it. My body was a bit achy, very confused at the several temperature changes, still hungry, and brutally tired. While the hike down sounds easy in theory, it was all but. Imagine a never ending zigzag, that was the way down. Nothing surprising. Nothing particularly hard. Just never ending. The way down may have been my most hated part of the hike - despite my head feeling like it was going to explode earlier. As we headed down, my head felt much better. Oh, and the other strap to my backpack broke.
I slept for 12 hours straight - something I don’t think I’ve ever done even sick. When I first came to Japan climbing Fuji was one of two things I really wanted to do, check! It was amazing, beautiful, a challenge, and 100% worth it. I would recommend it to anyone. Would I ever want to do it again? Nope!
Fun fact, the entire time I was hiking Mt Fuji I had Modest Mouse’s “Baby Blue Sedan” stuck in my head for zero reasons.