Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fuji Mountain Adventure (Part II)

I finally make it to station 8 and Yen tells me that there is room at the hut, they just wanted us all there together when we booked. I was so relieved. We get into the hut and we're dripping in the genkan (shoe take-off area). The employee there instructs us in Japanese to put our wet clothes in the plastic bag he provides and hands us pants and shirts if we need them.

I change into some leggings I packed (to put under my jeans if I was cold) and a new t-shirt. Erica puts on my sweat pants provided and Yen is dry enough to stay in her clothes, because she put the frikkin rain suit pants on when it started raining.

We are then instructed to hang up these bags and our backpacks, in a big room full of wet bag and backpacks, as he shows us to our futons. That means my hoodie, jeans, and rain jacket and not going to be dried out, but sit in a plastic bag in a cold room all night.

We get into the sleeping room, where at least a hundred people are laying down like sardines in a row. There are also bunk bed type things, so some people are sleeping in big groups above us. We get this little space to sleep in, divided by a foot high particle wood wall. There are two blankets and four pillows. We have 20 minutes to eat anything we packed before lights out. I cant really eat anything, though. And I am so cold.

As I am laying in bed freezing listening to the snores of Yen-chan, I remember my fuzzy halloween socks that I packed in my bag. I go out to get them, and while I'm up decide to pee, because I dont want to have to get out of bed again. The bathroom is outside. So I put on some provided bathroom slippers and make my way out. There are people out there, in ponchos and headlamps, who are not sleeping, but still making there way up the mountain. I step in a freezing puddle and get to the toilet. Luckily, since I paid 5,000 yen to sleep at the hut, I do not have to pay 200 yen to pee. I bring my cell phone and email Motto. I can't believe the whole mountain has cell phone service.

I get back in bed and stick some pocket warmers into my socks, and this warms me up a bit. I still can't sleep, I am just laying in bed wondering whether I should wake up at 1am and join Erica and Yen on the rest of the trip up the mountain (about 500 more meters). We're already like 75% up. But, if I leave at 1am to make it to the top for the sunrise, the conditions will be pretty much the same as they just were. Dark, raining, cold, and my tight chest and not breathing thing.

I think about how Erica and Yen can probably make it up in 2.5 hours, but it may take me three or four. Three or four hours of climbing wet rocks, in the freezing rain, scared I'll die because I can't breathe.

It really didn't feel like an option. Even while resting in the hut my breathing was jagged and I was using the oxygen can I bought. I still felt dizzy. So, I chose to see Erica and Yen off, but I stayed in the hut until 6:30am. At that point I started to make my way down the mountain. (Oh, and I run into a co-worker

The only dry clothes I had were my black leggings, tshirt, and rain jacket. I did have rain pants, but those only lasted about 20 minutes, because I fell on my ass so many times and ripped them down the back.

I gave myself a kind of head start, instead of waiting for my friends at station 8 or 7. I arrived at "new" station 7 I sat and ate the most expensive meal in my life. Hot chocolate, corn soup, and bottled water: 1,200 yen. But, it was worth it to be somewhat dry and warm. My sweat was being locked in by my rain jacket, so my tshirt was wet and keeping me cold. But when I took the jacket off I was really cold.

Erica and Yen caught up with me there and we stayed another half hour or so. They showed me pictures of the top. They were really hot, I was still freezing. Then we continued down together.

After that my 500 yen shoes started to give out. The treading was gone, so I was slipping on the gravel, and my toes weren't protected and were just jamming into the rocks as I waddled down.

It really wasn't all bad. It was fun climbing down sometimes, I could breathe easier as I passed the 7th station and the three of us were cracking jokes and having a good time.

We practically ran down from station 6 to 5. The path was dirt and compared to what we just dealt with, a piece of cake. Then we finally did some shopping for souvenirs (why we came to this damn mountain in the first place). I got a few keychains and two magnetic kissing Fuji keitai straps (one's blue, one's pink) for me and Motto. It reminded me of something teenagers would buy. Motto thought it was really ugly on his phone, so I told him he only has to keep in on a few days (he hasnt taken it off his iPhone yet...hehe).

So it took me from 7am to about 1pm (with a big break in the middle) to make it down the mountain.

After the bus ride home we went to a spa for a shower and bath. It was Yen's first time at a Japanese style public shower, so that was fun explaining, Yes, right now you have to get butt naked and follow me into a room of naked old women.

And then at this point I was done complaining, and the other two had their turns.

The green line shows where I climbed.

Read Part I.
More pictures on my flickr.


Jennifer Mc said...

This is amazing. I am jealous. I wish i did this when i was in Japan.

ElizT said...

I am absolutely delighted that I didn't.

Jonathan said...

Whoa Jeannette.
I am thoroughly impressed. Judging from that time we walked up Peel street and climbed Mount Royal, you have really really impressed me.

But what's the matter with you??? Those shoes are not for hiking!! They are hardly for walking! You should have invested in real shoes.

Jeannette said...

Ashley said buy cheap disposable shoes. Yen's 1000 yen shoes did better, maybe 500 yen was too cheap.

Anonymous said...

I am impressed and proud of you!!!! Mom

red-handed said...

My own vacation sounds delightful by comparison. And I'm not proud of you at all.

LSL said...

Jesus. I saved this to read later and it got buried in my reader. Now that I've found it and read it, I'm completely freaked out and am vowing never to mess with Fuji-san.

Good for you!