Tokyo, Japan — Day 11 & 12

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Now it’s time for the best two days ever, although I wasn’t thinking that the whole time….

Colt and I slept in, waking up in time so as not to miss the hotel’s breakfast. The night before, we went ahead, packing our backpacks with all our hiking gear and laying out our clothes for the next day. After breakfast, we grabbed our gear and headed to the 7/11 on the way to the station to stock up on water for the hike. I had purchased a water bladder, similar to a Camelbak but a lot cheaper, so I filled the whole bladder up with the 2L bottles they sold. Then we continued on to the station, taking the train to Shinjuku, met up with the two guys from our group that were hiking with us, and waited for our bus.

The bus ride was two and a half hours, and I couldn’t help but dose off, as much as I was enjoying the views out the window. Finally, we arrived at the 5th Station, where everyone starts the ascent. Already we could feel a drastic change in temperature, just stepping off the bus. It was a very welcome change after the intense heat in Tokyo. Not only was it a bit cooler, but we were above the clouds already too. We looked up where you could see the slope of Mt. Fuji, but not the top due to the clouds above us as well.

We did not start immediately. We walked around the 5th station a bit, looking inside the souvenirs shops and visiting the shrine they even had. I was growing very anxious to get our hike underway because it was almost five and I wasn’t sure if we would make it to the 7th station, where we were lodging for the night, before dark.

Starting at five, it took us and hour and a half to get to our hut at the 7th station. Surprise to us! Just that first leg of the journey was tough, despite being fit. Maybe I am not fit enough or it was the altitude or both! Who knows, but the hiking wasn’t as easy as I had envisioned. The coolness was great, even though we still sweated, it was a lot better than sweating in the heat. The view was spectacular though, and breathtaking–in beauty and in fright. I am not a fan of heights, even though I want to sky dive. I was about to go near that edge. We took small breaks, to catch our breath and wait for anyone that was behind and usually it was I who was in the rear! The higher we climbed, the more we could see UP towards the top. Then surprise, we arrived at our station a lot sooner than we thought. It was just after six, so we put our backpacks down, and ate the delicious curry dinner they supplied us with. Lights out were at seven, so we climbed into our bunks to try to get some sleep before we set out for the hike to the summit.

All four of us had difficulty sleeping, only managing a couple hours. We ended up setting out at 11:30pm, in the pitch dark. Good thing we had our headlamps. This was the longest part of the hike, taking us nearly five hours to reach the top! I am sure the amount of people also climbing to reach the summit for sunrise had a factor in the time as well. It got a bit crowded the last leg of the climb. And oh, did it get COLD. We had stopped at the windy 8th station and grabbed hot food. It was definitely the best Cup of Noodles I have ever had in my entire life. We ate then continued on, and I started doubting if we would make it in time for the sunrise.

Our group got separated, but at the last leg, it was so crowded, we weren’t going to wait for each other. And then FINALLY, we reached the top. I was so glad, because that was a much more brutal hike than I anticipated. Colt and I weren’t far from each other, so we hurried to find a spot to sit and watch the much anticipated sunrise.

And what an exquisite moment, it was. At first, you could see that the sky was lightening, but you couldn’t quite see the sun just yet. Then, a red line appeared and was rapidly growing larger. It stretched, climbing higher and higher, and then the sun was up. The crowd watching was quite enthusiastic. It was so cold at the summit, but just watching the sun rise made you forget just how cold you were. And then of course, there was the scalding drinks in our gloved hands.

After the sunrise, we didn’t stay much longer since we were freezing. We enjoyed the view as much as possible before making our way to the descending trail–my least favorite part. It was gravel the majority of the way down, and very steep and slippery; not at all to my liking and fear of heights. I was silently wishing a helicopter could just whisk me back down to the 5th station. It only took about two and a half hours to descend, thank goodness because we were some kind of worn out. We reserved our bus tickets back to Tokyo and waited an hour, roaming around the station, buying souvenirs and grabbing a much needed lunch. The moment I settled down on the bus, I was out like a light, hardly opening my eyes again until we reached Shinjuku.

We headed back to the hotel, taking showers to get all the dust and grime from Mt. Fuji off us. Instead of passing out immediately, we decided to wait until night to sleep again, and so we headed out in search of a Cat Cafe. Back to Shinjuku, we went! The minimum amount of time for the Cat Cafe we visited was one hour. We bought some cat food to feed the cats–about the only time they wanted to come near me! There were so many gorgeous kitty’s though, and I had a blast watching them and feeding them.

After our time was up, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant on the way to the station, where I got a delicious beef bowl. After dinner, we called it a night and headed back to our hotel, sleep on our minds. For sure one of the most exhausting and exciting days of the trip.

One day more,

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