I’m glad I didn’t read anything about the trails or reviews of climbing Mt. Fuji or I may have changed my mind. My prefecture has a group called FJET that is led by other ALTs in the area. Events are organized
and we can sign up to participate. I figured planning a trip to climb on my own would be more difficult so I signed up during orientation. I knew it would be difficult but I really didn’t realize some parts would involve clambering on all fours as to not trip or twist my ankle.
We took a bus together, 22 of us, from Fukui city and drove about eight hours with stops along the way to Yamanashi prefecture. The drive as we approached Fuji held scenic views and I learned about the suicide forest that exists surrounding Fuji. We arrived around 7 pm at night and would begin our hike around 8. After changing clothes and using the restroom we began our uphill trek in the dark. The first part was a basic trail and as we started at base camp five we were already pretty high up and could see the surrounding area. There were fireworks way off on the distance and the sky was clear to see all the stars and the milky way.
After the initial trail, it turned into loose dirt and rocks with “steps” along the way. These were actually worse to go up because some would be two feet tall. However, the non step area was close to the edge sometimes and you could fall a bit of you tripped. As I’m a spaz, I stuck to the stairs at times and that’s probably why I killed my knee.
Throughout the way you reach base camps that sell food, water, oxygen tanks, and have bathrooms. I probably spent ten dollars on bathroom visits at 2 dollars (200 yen) a visit. The suggested way to see sunrise is to head up earlier than we did and rest at the last camp before heading up for sunrise and then resting before going back down. We were doing this trek in one night on no sleep so some parts were rough. I wasn’t terribly out of breath but I could feel the incline in my legs. I definetly got some altitude sickness by the top because I had a headache and felt nauseous. Some parts were crazy because it was such a narrow path with huge rocks to climb over in the dark. Plus it was super crowded so you would take a step, pause, and then take another.
Since you couldn’t see the top, I kept thinking we were almost there and then there would be so much more. It was a relief to finally make and on time for sunrise. Sunrise was beautiful and it was amazing being up above the clouds. This was a short moment of relief and gratitude for making it up but then began the downhill.
It was worse. Much worse. My right knee felt like someone took a hammer to the outside edge and twisted my knee around. Every step hurt and the ground was a mix of dirt and loose rocks that slipped under your feet as you walked. I tried to go fast but eventually lost some of my group. At one point I feared I had to be going the wrong way down (you’d end up on the wrong side far from your bus) but I wasn’t. The downhill was just that long. I took about 7-8 up (with traffic) and about four down due to pain. The last bit was pretty though which helped but the moment I could sit on the bus was great.
I’m definitely happy to have gone and to accomplish the climb but I’m relieved to be done.