We woke up at 5 AM to catch a train from Kyoto Station to Mishima Station. From Mishima Station it was another 2 hours by bus before getting to the base of of Mt. Fuji. We knew the hike was going to be hard and knew we weren't as prepared as we should have been. Japanese hikers were walking past us with backpacking packs, hiking poles, hiking boots, sunglasses, hats, and overall good gear. I had my LL bean pack with running sneakers and Michael Kors sunglasses.
We walked to the local store and each got a wooden hiking pole. At each station going up, we got a stamp representing each point that we passed on the mountain. At first we thought it would be a great souvenir to bring back, but it ended up being a life saver as we were ascending and descending the mountain.
As we started the hike at 1:15 PM, the temperature was about 80 degrees F. We ascended the mountain slowly, stopping at all of the stations on our way Up. We took around a 5 to 10 minute break at each one so we would be able to reach the 10th station (the peak) by 6:00 in time to check into our hut.
From station to station, the landscape changed. At some points there was gravel that made it hard to go up as quickly as we wanted. It felt like going uphill when your walking with shoes in the sand at the beach. Most of the time the path would change to rocks that we could easily use as stepping stones to ascend the mountain.
When the going got tough I was always encouraged when other climbers would pass and say "konichiwa!" with huge smiles.
The view was amazing. I don't think I've seen anything so beautiful in my life. As I walked up, I kept tripping because I couldn't stop looking at the landscape around us. We were above the clouds and could see the slanted green landscape with flowers and small shrubs growing on them. At times, the brown of the mountain was visible in the landscape. At two stations, there were huge slabs of ice along the mountain side that had been shaded by the mountain and clouds.
By the time we were at the seventh station we were either above or walking through the clouds. At each station, the weather got colder and by the 9th station, we were fully clothed.
Finally, when we reached the peak around 5:45 PM and checked into our hut. We were worried there wouldn't be enough room for us, but it seemed like there was more than enough. We got there just in time to eat dinner (curry and rice with miso soup) they provided. The man that worked at the hut told us that sunset was at 6:50 and the doors of the hut locked at 7:00. We were told lights out was at 7:15 and the lights would be back on at 4:00 Am. This was fine because we wanted to have an early start to see sunrise at 4:48 AM.
After dinner we ran to the sunset- like I said, I don't think I've ever seen anything so beautiful in my life. It is still unbelievable that we were up above those clouds consistently for so long. During the couple of minutes we were looking at the sunset, we could see Mt. Fuji's crater from one side and the clouds and sunset from another.
The next morning, I woke up at 3:45 am and was completely energised. I think that was the most amount of hours I've gotten since I left home in the states. We had breakfast (rice and fish..which I didn't eat and Miso Soup). The sunrise, once again, was incredible. We walked up to the peak area where we found dozens of climbers sitting watching as the sun came up. Many had started climbing last night to get to the top in time to see the sunrise. The temperature was around 30 degrees F. By that time I had layered up on clothes- I was wearing two pairs of leggings, a long sleeve shirt underneath a short sleeve shirt and a thin rain jacket and two pairs of socks and gloves. I was still freezing, but could manage.
We watched as the sun came up and brought sunlight to the landscape all around us. Other climbers, like us, had propped themselves up on rocks to watch as the sun came up over the clouds. In front of us, the sun came up above the sea of clouds and behind us, the moon was still out.
After, we walked all the way to the tallest point to make it official that we had climbed Mt. Fuji. We started descending around 6:00 and got to the base of the mountain around 9:00 just in time to make it to our bus. The bus took us back to Mishima Station where we collected our things from a storage locker and began our journey towards Tokyo.