My good friend Naomi and I successfully reached the summit of Mt. Fuji on July 27th 2018.
Here are the deets.
THE DEETS... AKA FAQ
How long did it take you?
It took us 7 hours to get from station 5 (basecamp, where everyone begins) to station 8.5. It took us another hour and a half to get from station 8.5 to station 10 (the summit). It then took us 4 hours to get down from station 10 to station 5.
Did you train?
Well, Naomi is an avid half-marathon and marathon runner, so she is in good shape. But me on the other hand...I wouldn't consider eating icecream every night and sitting at a desk all day adequate training.
Did you stay in a hut?
Yep. We booked one night at the hut at station 8.5 (forgot the name...) and it cost 7000 YEN per person. Yikes. A bit steep price considering you are squished like sardines on bunk beds...but you are 3,000 meters in the air and they serve you hot tea and two meals so you can't really argue with that.
How was the weather?
Cool all the way up. Extremely cold at the summit. Hot and sunny on the way down...aka bring layers.
Would you do it again?
THE DAY BEFORE...
Nomes and I decided to head towards Fuji on July 25th, the day before we started our hike. We wanted a good nights sleep and to not rush in the morning of our big mission. A lot of people take an express bus 1.5 hrs from Shinjuku (Tokyo area) to Fuji the day of their hike... but to me that's a little crazy.
So we stayed in Kawaguchiko, a city at the base of Fuji. We saw the lake, ate icecream, prepared all our stuff...and had a good nights rest.
WHAT WE PACKED:
LEGIT HIKING BOOTS
A DOWN JACKET
LOTS OF LAYERS (long sleeve, t-shirt, extra pants, etc)
WATER (you can buy bottles on the trail, but they're expensive)
SNACKS (energy supplements, hard candy, granola bars, etc)
RAIN GEAR (in case of a sudden storm)
A GOOD BACKPACK (no cheapy one...a real hiking one...or else your shoulders will hate you)
**ONE ITEM WE WISH WE BROUGHT** GAITERS...aka those weird things you slip on over your shoe and wrap up your ankle. I couldn't understand the point of these strange looking things until we were one our descent from Fuji and every 2 seconds GIANT red rocks would ply their way into my shoe...ahhhhh that's why people wear those.
We stayed at ORANGE CABIN, a cute little hostel-ish place just a 5 minute walk from Kawaguchiko station...which was super clutch for us!! The room was tiny and cute, perfect for us and there were shared bathrooms and shared kitchen downstairs. The lady who worked there was super nice to us and even let us keep our bags there and shower there the next day after our hike! What a gem.
OK...WELCOME TO HIKE DAY...
7:00am - wake up call
7:15am - quick walk to Conbini to grab breakfast, lunch for our hike, oxygen cans, etc
8:15 am/ish - bus from Kawaguchiko station to 5th station of Yoshida trail
**IMPORTANT NOTICE** just a quick public service announcement...There are four trails to use to hike up Fuji, THE YOSHIDA TRAIL, THE FUJINOMIYA TRAIL, THE SUBASHIRI TRAIL, and THE GOTEMBA TRAIL. This is great and all, but what nobody explains is that Mt. Fuji is HUGE...therefore these four trail heads are NOT near eachother. I REPEAT...ARE NOT NEAR EACHOTHER. So you better realize this before...or else you'll end up like Naomi and I who assumed all trails led to the same spot... right...??? wrong. We booked a hut at the top of Fujinomiya trail, but didn't realize we were in Kawaguchiko which only leads you to the base camp of the Yoshida trail...and therefore would have to take a 3 hour train/bus ride from Kawaguchiko just to get to the other side of fuji to hike the Fujinomiya trail uhhhh....
So, the night before our hike, after a brief panic attack wondering if our whole plan was shot...we quickly threw our plans for FUJINOMIYA TRAIL out the window and booked another place to stay at the top of YOSHIDA trail ...phew.
9:00am/ish - reach 5th station of YOSHIDA TRAIL
9:05am - bought our 800yen hiking sticks
9:10am - last civilized pee
9:30am - START OUR ASCENT!!!!!
10:00am - After a brief, flat 30 minute walk we reached this point, where we began to see the mountain itself...and we soon realized the air wasn't so plentiful up here anymore...
This was somewhere along the beginning of the trail...and what I imagined when I pictured hiking Fuji. Volcanic rock for hours and hours...
When you start hiking from the 5t station, you are already wayyyy above the clouds which is an incredible thing to see. This makes the whole hike up worth it, since you're basically seeing crazy cool views the entire time.
And here you have...a bunch of switchbacks. The beginning of the hike was all of these. 50 meter switchbacks that are just pure rock and dust.
12:00pm - After about 2 hours of switchbacks and a few rocky patches, we reached the 7th station. It was fun to see all our fellow climbers resting and taking it easy too...made you feel like you were all in this crazy mission together.
12:10pm- we stopped and pulled out our lunch to grub and regain some energy. I had two shio-onigiri (salted rice balls) and they tasted absolutely amazing. We paused for about 30 minutes or so to eat and rest before hitting the trail again.
We saw a lot of cool people on the trail...like this guy who was on a trip all around Japan and hiked to the summit with ALL his stuff...impressive. Of course I (being the social butterfly that I am) asked him for his instagram name and followed him HAHA!! OH!!! Fun fact...on Fuji there is cell phone service!!! How do they do this?? I'm not really sure. But there are full bars up there...pretty cool.
So once again...from station 5 (where the bus drops you off) to station 7...it's pretty much smooth sailing. Cool weather, switchbacks, resting areas...doable. BUT...once you pass station 7, THING GET CRAZY.
There are bathrooms at each station and at each one you have to pay 200yen or so.
OK so once again...past station 7 and on the way to station 8...you are left to question your entire existence and reason for hiking this insane mountain in the first place!!! The trail is basically intense rocks for 4 hours. YEP. We reached station 7 around noon, so we were feeling so confident like, "ohhhh we'll make it to station 8.5 in no time and have so much time to relax)....NOPE. NOT AT ALL. It took us 4 hours to get to station 8. FOUR HOURS!!!!!!!!!!
4:00pm - And HERE we made it...to station 8. After a vigorous 4 hour climb...we saw this sign and jumped for joy until we read the fine print..."3 HOURS TO THE TOP." uhhh....3????? 3 HOURS????
At this point, we all could feel that 7th-8th station strain...when you realize Fuji is no joke. At this point I also realized that hiking Fuji is more of a mental battle than a physical one. Sure, it's taxing physically, but you really have to be in good health mentally. I mean, to hike for 6 hours and to look at a sign that says you have 3 more hours to the summit can either crush you, or get you excited. If you choose the latter, you're ready to hike Fuji. If you chose the former, you'll hate every minute of it.
There are huge rocks on the roofs to keep the building intact during big storms
The huts all along the trail feel like an oasis in a dry land...there are people there, bathrooms to use, snacks to buy, benches to sit on, and a moment of rest along an otherwise rocky and nonstop trail.
A popular thing to do on Fuji is buy a walking stick for 800yen and get it branded all along the way. At each station there are different brandings you can buy for 300-500 yen and get yourself a little Fuji treasure. This was a fun little thing to do to keep our minds of the pain...and we finished with a really good souvenir from the trip that I will proudly display in my room!
Clouds and clouds and clouds....beautiful!!
Another view of the trail somewhere between station 8 and 8.5...lots of red rock and sloping pathways.
There were so many older people hiking Fuji, like this ojiisan here. How impressive is that?? Seeing them so gracefully take step by step up the mountain really encouraged me to keep going.
4:30pm - 3,250 meters in the air!!!!
Some amazing views from up here.
At this high of altitude, we had to stop every switchback or so...just to drink more water, eat an energy jelly, and breath in some of the oxygen pump. Plus it was getting chilly and the 6+ hours hiking were wearing on us. But good news was...we were almost to our hut!!
5:00 pm ladies and gentlemen...welcome to the glory of staying at the 8.5th station of the Yoshida Trail on Mt. Fuji!!!
When you walk in, you pay, put your shoes in a bag, put your hiking stick up in the rafters, and sit down for a hot meal. Unfortunately for me, I ordered the "Japanese meal" which was basically rice and a piece of fish...mehhh...*I don't eat seafood* and the lady wouldn't let me trade it in for the "Western meal" which was a hambagu (hamburger patty) and rice...darn! So I just ate rice and salad basically...but that was ok because I was too tired to care what went into my body...I just needed some fuel.
Nomes and I kicked it until 7:30pm or so when we attempted (key word...attempted) to get some sleep. We had befriended some friends along the way up the mountain and we all stayed at the same hut so we planned to make it to the summit together. It felt like we were at summer camp with out buddies because we were like, "ok, let's meet in the front at 2:00am and hike up together" ok!
1:45am...rise and shine!!! Nomes and I quietly got up around 1:30 and crawled down from out squished bunk and tried not to step on anyone. We met up with out friends as planned and started the hike up. From the 8.5th station it took us 1.5hrs to get to the summit. WOW. A lady who works there told us it usually takes 40 minutes...but in the morning its twice as long because of the crowds. VERY TRUE. We went nice and slow...I could really feel the altitude at this point...headlamps on, step by step and finally...
4:15am...just as the sun was rising on the horizon...the moon was fading back behind us and left this crazy shadow on the clouds below. THE SHADOW OF MT. FUJI AS SEEM FROM THE SUMMIT OF MT. FUJI. This was forsure one of the craziest things I have ever had the chance to witness.
It was really cool being up there with everyone who has also hiked their way up...kinda like a group bonding experience. We all held our breaths in anticipation for the sunrise and enjoyed that miraculous moment together.
What you can't tell from the photos is that it was FREEZING up at the top. Literally freeeeeeezing...therefore we couldn't stay up there very long and made our descent soon after the sunrise.
5:00am...descending Mt. Fuji. This was pretty radical...and may have been a view that overshadowed even the sunrise view because we were just walking down on these steep switchbacks that looked as if they led us straight into the sky. That was magical.
LOOK AT THIS!!!! The most beautiful view i've ever seen. un.real.
COOL STORY...I decided to take my Giuliano's hat up to Mt. Fuji. It's my all time favorite hat because of who gave it to me...my grandpa, Ryo. For those of you who don't know, Giuliano's is a popular Italian Deli in our hometown that makes the best sandwiches and mac salad!!! My grandpa Ryo knew the Giuliano family ever since they bought the building that was next to his pharmacy wayyyy back at the start of their business. They stayed great friends and business partners, and my grandpa continued to visit their deli once a week up until he passed away. Well, when I hiked Fuji in my hat and send a photo to my mom...she texted me back and said, "you know today would have been grandpa's 100th birthday??! And you're hiking it in his favorite hat!!" That was a divine moment. Fuji for Gpa Ryo and Giulianos. AMEN.
well...around 9:00 am we made it back down to flat ground and officially made it back to station 5 at 9:25am...a full 24 hours after we initially started out hike.
Fuji was insane, incredible, breathtaking, and hands down one of the best things I have ever done in my life. It was a difficult feat, but not impossible. There were endless stunning views all around...and I felt a level of closeness to God and His creation that I have never before experienced. For that reason alone, I would do it again. In a heartbeat!
So, who's down??? let's go!!!