Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mt Fuji Trek

Hiking Grand Canyon, New Years Day 2007

Next weekend, we are leaving our island oasis and heading to mainland Japan to fulfill a personal dream. Climb the infamous Mt Fuji. 

This will actually be the second time I have attempted it. The first time was a comedy of errors and I sadly never even made it to the mountain! 

In 2005, I came to Japan and planned the trek at the end of my trip. Silly me...I believed that Fuji would be a huge tourist destination and easy to get to like Disneyland or Vegas. 

So, I showed up at the train station in Tokyo and asked for a ticket to Mt Fuji. I discovered that it was not as straightforward as believed and would involve a series of trains and buses. Still I was undeterred. Besides I also had a reservation to spend the night in a very special Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) there. 

I started my odyssey early in the morning and every thing went as normal until I discovered to my horror that I had gotten on the wrong train.  I got off at the next stop, and calmly got on the right course. Except that I DIDN'T again, and found myself zooming about the country on a bullet train for the entire day. Seriously, about 14 hours! I finally found a commuter train that headed to the nearest town to Fuji. This was one of those trains that stop every few minutes and the normal looking people get off, and the green-haired grandmothers get on... 

When I finally got to Fuji, I checked into the special guest house, only it was super creepy because I was ONLY person there. The hallways were all dark and creaky... in fact, the entire village seemed something of a ghost town. It was then that I learned Fuji had just been closed for the season.

This time, we made sure the mountain is, indeed, still open and booked a sure-fire way to the mountain. But we're wondering how to pack efficiently for all seasons (steamy humidity on the way up and snow at the top). 

Even if you haven't climbed Fuji, anybody out there have recommendation about what to pack in terms of clothes, snacks, first-aid, rain gear, extras?

We appreciate your advice. Please leave a comment!


Mishka said...

I did it in July of 2004 and we had a myriad of weather during the day. I recommend zip off long pants, and at least two layers (one short sleeve, one long) on the top. Then bring a rain slicker/wind breaker type light coat for any wet weather. There wasn't snow on the mountain when we went so we didn't have to deal with those temps but one of my friends just went this year and they had on northface gortex at the top because it was so cold so you might need that over instead of the light rain/wind breaker jacket.

We brought camelbacks with plenty of water and then some high carb snacks. You can get food at the stations (not super cheap) and you can rest at the stations.

I also highly recommend wearing gloves because a day with the walking stick in your hand will give you blisters, but you definitely want to buy the walking stick so you can get the burned in stamps at the stations. I recommend also taking off the bell and flag and storing them away for safe keeping because the bell will drive you nuts before you even get to the next station and the flag will get messed up in the red dirt during the climb.

Note too that you will get red dirt on your shoes, socks and lower clothes.

The climbing is pretty slow (like lines at Disneyland) so take the time to look around and check things out. The tour groups really slow things down for everyone and you can only pass people in spots where the trail is widened out.

Chris and Amy said...

Wow! Mishka had some great pointers! I plan on using all of them. I look forward to hearing abuot your trip. My running partner and I are going 20-24 August. The only tip that I dind;t see in Mishka's list was you might want gaiters so pebbles don't invade your shoes.
This has nothing to do with Mt. Fuji, but while we're there we ar ealso planning on going to Cirque de Soleil at Disney. Just an idea. :)
Have a great trip.

My Hotel Life said...

Just make sure you get on the right train this time.

Mary and Sean said...

Thanks for all your great advice! Because of you, we're getting the walking sticks!

Mary and Sean said...

Thanks for the reminder about the pebbles!Next week, I'll let you know how it goes! I'm sure there will be some achy muscles for a few days...

Abi King said...

Strong walking boots with ankle support! Yes there are paths (and even handrails in some places) but there's also a lot of scree in places.

Also, make sure you have some transport plans for when you get down again. We very nearly got stranded..

Good luck - and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did ;) I'll watch this space...

Mary and Sean said...

Thanks Abi!

We've got the boots packed and a ride arranged!


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