Day 5

This is it…go time..Mt. Fuji awaits for me to crest its imposing crown. Two years ago I came to do this, but woefully unprepared and inadequate to the task, I settled for a walking tour of the Five Lakes area, itself a nice experience in its solitude. Blossoms at that time were just falling, sky was gray, water still….I digress.

Fuji-san – here we come. Bus ride with helpful guide Take-san explaining the procedure. He looks like he’s from Ikebukuro…just a guess.

So, short plan:
7AM – leave Keio Plaza Hotel
12ish – arrive at 5th station
1ish – start hiking
5ish – stop hiking to retire for the evening
10:30PM – wake up to start hiking to the top
4AM – enjoy sunrise

I’m eager. With Obon Week, this should be a crowded affair. Little nervous but how hard can the hike be? Images of getting lost on Mt. Baldy come to mind…nah – I hear elderly do this hike, too. Then Take-san mentions about the fatalities that have occurred…hmmm…

My thoughts drift back to my walk from the b to Keio Plaza Hotel. A morning dash broken by a dark blur that crosses my path. I’m not superstitious, but really…a black cat…unreal.

Thoughtful reverie is broken by my back-of-the-bus discussion with my fellow hikers. Charming couple that also happen to share a passion for photography. Instant bond and I’m grateful my previous day’s socialization have melted my regular, frigid solitude.

We arrive at the 5th Stn. Wow – the crowds. It’s like a festival. Young and old, eager faces alike, backpacks a-plenty. Oh, they sell O2 bottles….Take-san says I don’t need it. What is missing is a good ol’ fashioned walking stick. Fortunately, this little souvenir doesn’t escape me. Quick purchase of the stick, but it’s nakedness is calling for the many brands that can be purchased at each station. Well, I could use something else to remind me of the occasion, besides pics.

Hike starts, and like most things, the beginning is charged with excitement. The trail is easy but shortly turns steep with many switchbacks. We take frequent stops. I’m still giddy, though…restless….We get to a sharp, rocky section that’s difficult. Each station offers a chance to etch the stick one more time.

The hiking slows down as it gets steeper. I’m still enthusiastic, but feel the time is right to groove to something – headphones on.

Finally reaching the 8th Stn., we’re treated to an amazing view. About 5PM now, beautiful dusking sky highlights the stream of people stretching endlessly. Weather has been great – sunny with occasional clouds and fog, but no rain. Apparently, there’s a high chance you get to the top to be greeted with clouds and mud…

Sleeping arrangements – side to side, packed in next to each other. Lucky me gets a corner. Food – a ground meat patty, rice and a cold, expensive Asahi. It’s now about 6ish and I want to get a view outside before turning in. The darkening sky is too becoming to leave alone – camera/tripod time, with streaming headlamps from the continuing army trudging up the switchbacks.

It’s mesmerizing.

However, my adventure will continue in about 4 hours, so it’s time to turn in. I’m thinking this is going to be impossible – to sleep – but blackness comes over me rapidly.