Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Super Angie...Mt. own mini epic

We set off from Shinjuku station to Mt. Fuji on Thursday. We took the 7:45 bus, I think it was. We bought a Japanese Banana in honor of our kids and ate it on the way. Everyone else on the bus was sleeping on the ride. The onboard bathroom was so tiny, even I, at only 5 foot 2 inches had to duck! LOL

Rick enjoy the banana as well and was thinking of Tanith the whole time.

We got dropped off at the Kowaguchi 5th station. Mt Fuji has 10 "stations" on it. The 5th station is where most people start climbing. There are numerous hotels and resturants at this stop. Most people come to this stop, eat, drink, sit around and get used to the altitude which I think is around 5,000ft. Since we are from Utah and thats basicly the altitude we live at, we had no problem, so we didn't spend much time here.

We wandered around the shops a bit and took pictures. Bought some suvineers too.
OOPS! This picture got uploaded upside down. Sorry about that.
Lots of interesting things around in the shops. I bought a bell to wear on my pack--its to ward off evil spirits while you hike. We didn't buy the traditional hiking stick--we'll do that next time when we bring the kids to hike it.
Nope, I didn't try these octopus legs!
You can see in the bottom right the walking sticks with flags on them.
We left a bag in a locker and then headed up the trail

Apparently you can hire horses to take you up the trail!

This is the gateway to Mt Fuji!

Part of the trail at the start was these cobble stones.

Self portrait.
The trail was very interesting down at the bottom. Lush green forests.
A group of young kids hiking Fuji. Amazing!!!It started getting foggy.

Yea! We have reached the 7th station.

The hotel and store. We didn't buy anything or go inside to rest.

Lots of steap stairs to make it through the several stops that make up the 7th station.
It got really steap and rocky then.

This boy was such a great little hiker and so cute. I couldn't resist taking his pic.
Beautiful plants along the way.
Follow the chains....

I beleive this was the 8th station. Steep steps lead to this rest stop. A hotel, resting spot and a snack bar.

Climbing, hiking, climbing higher.
The Japanese were really over dressed! These are wearing full rain gear and heavy clothing. Yes, I understand that some people died a few weeks ago from hypothermia, but at this time, Rick was still wearing a t-shirt baselayer.
The sun came out! We talked to a father and daughter who called out, WE CONQUERED THE SUMMIT. Their smiles and enthusiasm was contagious. Mix that with a great song on my ipod and I was suddenly full of energy. I proceeded to run and dance my way to the summit.
It was so pretty.

The interesting volcani topography of the route.

My sweetie.
Blue sky and steap steap hiking.
A hitch hiker! This little lady bug wanted a free ride. Rick flicked it off right after this pic. Poor little thing!
The first archway we passed under. This one had coins stuck into it--for luck? Rick has some pictures of me placing my own coin into the wood.
Getting closer. YEA!!!!
The weather had a mind of its own. One moment, misty and cloudy, the next sunny. Then back to misty and cloudy. It did rain on us a bit too.
ALMOST THERE!!!! Theres the rim of the volcano!
Right before the offical summit, we passed by these statues and under this arch.
There were some really ornate statues up at the top.
A map of the top.
A look into the crater. We had reached the summmit!!!!!
We got to the top and found another hotel and resturant, vending machines and bathrooms. What a luxury summit!
Yea for me!
YEA! We're on the summit!!!! (look! I look skinny!!!)

Looking deep into the crater. I was so excited to be standing on top of my first volcano.Rick and I were both interested to see the snow and bergerunds in the crater.

Self portrait of me and my Lucky Care Bear on the summit.
Coming down, we ran into three US military guys. They were very nice and we enjoyed chatting with them. They were going up.
Isn't he cute?
Another shop. Notice the bananas.
Of course we had to buy a Japanese Banana and...
document ourselves eating it!
The way down was extremely steep and I took a few falls. The volcanic soil was soft and then hard and rocky. Really strenous to walk down actually. Well, on one of my steps down, I suddenly felt extreme pain in my left ankle. It was like electric shocks shooting up my foot. I said some "choice words" and then got a pep talk from Rick. It was obvious I was in pain, but there was simply no other way to get down other then walk. Add to that the fact that if we didn't hurry, we would miss our bus back to the city. It was getting serious. I bucked up, said many prayers and started down. It hurt a lot.

Usually it takes around 2.5 hours to go down. We were on target for that until my foot problems. In the end it took us 4. 5 hours to get completely down!!
A shrine we noticed on the way down. By now it was pitch dark and many climbers were on their way up using lanterns and headlamps. Once we got down on the flatter trail, I was able to move much quicker. My foot still hurt but I was enduring. We got down just after the last bus to Shinjuku left. CRAP. That meant we would need to take the next bus down to the nearest town and hope there was a bus or train there that could take us back to Tokyo.

As we sat waiting for that bus to come, the three military guys came down and also two other Americans we had met on the trail. They were all joined by a British couple. Looked like we would all take the bus down to Kowiguchiko.

We arrived at the small train station to find out there were no more trains to Shinjuku or anyplace in Tokyo. Still, in my mind I thought all would be okay. The two Americans talked to the guy at the station and decided to spend the night at the hotel across the street, so they took off. The rest of us were convinced we could find something at the next nearest town, so we boarded a train at 10:10. We took an hour train ride to some dinky little, sleepy village . There was NOTHING there. No hotels. No Resturants. Not even a bar was open. The train guy at that station told us the next possible way to get to Tokyo would be at 5am the next day. CRAP! We found a large line of taxis and went door to door asking if they could take us to Tokyo. It felt like we were on the amazing race. lol We got two quotes: $3oo and $400 to take us into town. Even if we split the cost with the other hikers, it was too much (there were no ATMs around), so we did what we had to do...and curled up on the floor of the train station! Talk about an Amazing Race moment!

The station was open on two sides to the elements, so we heard the wind and rain all night, but it was warm in the station. I was having recovery issues and was actually quite cold the whole night, even though every one else was laying on the bare floor in just a t-shirt. There were wind chimes hanging from the ceiling and each time a mid night train went through, we'd get a lovely chorus of chimes ringing. It was actually quite pretty. When we woke in the morning, there were actually quite a few Asians also sleeping the station. Interesting.

We caught the 5:02 train and continued our way back to our hotel. Once we arrived, we took a short 1 1/2 hour nap, cleaned up, packed and checked out. We took a rapid train to the airport and caught our flight to Singapore. The end of a very epic day on Mt. Fuji. It took us exactly 24 hours to return back to our hotel room. HOLY CRAP! What a day!!!

--Super Angie


TriPeakPro said...

It was amazing, for sure. 5th station is about 7,300' and top near 12,300' so 5,000' total vertical climbing.

The red volcanic dirt is just like the stuff at the bottom of a bag of lavarock like what you put around your plants at home.

The bag we put in the locker was a change of shirts and water and snacks for when we got down.

The last direct bus to Shinjuku leaves at 3 PM, the last bus with connections to Shinjuku leaves at 6:55 PM. We were on the 8:55 PM bus.

Great post!

Super Angie's MOM said...

Hurray, you did make it down and back, just not on your original schedule. It is always good to be flexable. :)

Anderegg & Co. said...

Wow...what an adventure and how fun! I'm glad you are safe. How is your foot? What a beautiful and fascinating place to visit! Are you ready for your next big hike? Isn't that in 2 weeks? Crazy girl! Welcome home!!!

Otter Mum's Den said...

How's the ankle? Was it just the overwork of the hike up or something more serious?

lvs2dance said...

This post must have taken you FOREVER! You always put soooo many pics on, which I LOVE! What a cool experience!

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