September 16, 2013

A Trek to Mt. Fuji - Unforgettable

I and one my colleague had been to Mt.Fuji last weekend (Saturday, 14th September 2013). It was really a memorable one, awesome but one of the worst day of my life.

We started from home around 11:30 AM went to Center Kita, bought few accessories which were left out for trekking. From there on we started our travel (train from Center Kita -> Azamino, another train from Azamino  -> Shibuya and final train from Shibuya -> Shinjuku) and reached bus station around 1:50 PM. There we booked Keio bus to Mt. Fuji 5th station and the bus was at 4:50. We had around 3 hours of time, so we did some window shopping, roam around and finally had some food in MCD.

Exactly at  4:50 PM, our bus left. After 1 hour, we entered hilly region and the view was really a good one as the entire hills are densely populated with trees. I was wondering how spectacular it would be if it was snowing :D. After 2:30 hours, we reached Fuji 5th station around 7:25 PM. As soon as we got down, our body could feel the chillness and I wore a sweater to keep myself warm. As it was already night, we were not able to see anything around. All we could see was a inverted cone shaped mountain. We completed our dinner and started our trek at around 7:50PM. Sticks are required to trek and costs 1000Yen for a stick with bell, 1200Yen for stick with Japan flag and 1500Yen for stick with Mt.Fuji route map. We got sticks but we did not buy as we found those sticks lying near the start point (Trekkers who returned should have kept it so that it would help other trekkers).

It was really a cool and breezy night with moon barely seen. We started the trek by taking some snaps.  

As we proceeded we saw a map where it shows 2 routes, One route was closed from September 1st and other one will be opened till October 2nd. So we took the allowed route, but rest of the trekkers took the closed route as it was shorter one. We were the only 2 in this route and went through the forest where no one were there. In that wood, I saw one wooden house which looked similar to the house in Evil Dead, but I was not scared as i knew that there are lots to go to reach the summit.

After a hour of trekking, we reached a point where both the routes met and we were accompanied by other trekkers. As we proceeded further, slowly we could realize that air was getting thinner and our heart beats was increasing its pace. We reached 6th station took some rest for about 25 min.  By now we started to feel the temperature drop and I could feel chillness. I checked my mobile, I had full signal but it was of no use. My pocket WiFi was not having signal at all and it was really crazy as International roaming signal is full but local one is 0. I could feel my sweater becoming wet due to the cold breeze. So I covered myself with a thick Jacket and then continued to trek.

I could see clouds slowly covering the mountain and was feeling happy imagining how awesome it would be in the morning when I see a sunrise. Slowly things changed, it started drizzling and I was still happy as Sulfur dust will not be blown against us. I sat 3-4 times between 7th station to 8th station as my shoulders were aching due to backpack weight. As soon as we reached the eight station, the rain took its control and started to show its true color. Our gloves and shoes completely drenched and our bags was now around 12kgs as it got drenched in rain.The paths were really sloppy and was becoming really difficult to trek. The temperature was really dropping and I my body could not accept the weight anymore. So I sat for 10 minutes and rested then took some energy gel and again continued with trek. My Colleague was saying that we have almost reached the last station and we can rest here till the sunrises but I told him tat I saw a light which is at a farther distance and that should be the 10th and the final station and that is where our trek will complete but he did not accept. By now, my palm and feet was entirely in numbness. It was really difficult for me to go further but my desire was to reach the summit and take a look at the crater so we still continued. We managed to reach 9th station successfully. There was board setup saying that it is 9th station and 1.3km pending to reach the summit and I was right. There was a temperature sensor setup, we checked and it was 0degree. OMG!!! We have survived 0 degree for few hours after our hands and foot were drenched in rain. We were not able to move further anymore due to lack of sleep and body pain, so we decided to take camp and sleep for 2 hours at-least and then continue. We checked the camps and it was fully. They did not allow us inside, hence we decided to go little further and check for a camp and rest there. We left 9th station and started climbing the slope. The rain was really heavy and the wind was blowing around 80-90kmph but we somehow wanted to continue and we proceeded further till 30 meters. But it was really dangerous to go further as we were about to be blown away. We came back to 9th station and were searching camps but we coudn't find it. Everywhere it was full and though we were ready pay hefty amount, those Japanese were not even ready to let us in.

We stopped and stayed at the 9th station for about 1 hour but the camp was not getting emptied. By this time, we were almost freeze'd to death. We could not move our fingers and it was so numb that we had a feeling that we have lost it. We decided to go down to 8th or 7th station and find a camp to rest. There were totally 3 routes, first one was 4.8 kms to base station but this base station was a different one. Other 2 routes were for the 5th station. One was zigzag path which is about 17.3 kms and other one is 5.6 kms. 17.3 kms path was mainly for bulldozers and 5.6kms for trekkers which had all the stations on the way.

Instead of taking 5.6kms route, we took 17.3 kms route. Initially we could not realize this, but after coming around 3kms, we realized this. As this path was little easy to walk when compared to other routes, we continued. We walked, walked and kept on walking, all we could see it black debris with dark background. It was so windy and raining heavily, that we couldn’t even lift our eyes to see the path. As we descended further, our hands and feet numbness was decreasing and could breathe much better. After some time we were back to normal, but I was really not doing well, my shoulders, back, joints and foot was terribly paining. It was really difficult to keep steps further with that heavy backpack. When we flashed the light to check out the path, we could see lustrous rocks which were twinkling and really nice to see, so i took small rock as a remembrance. There came a troop of trekkers from behind, we joined them and continued our journey. They were pretty faster and I was the slowest among all. To be with them, i increased my pace with all those sufferings. At around 6:00 AM, the visibility was better but rain was still heavy, we reached the point where both the routes joined. I was really happy seeing it and my hopes of reaching the 5th station went high and I was sure now that I will somehow make it. Everyone took the closed path and kept on walking. Now I was completely exhausted due to the pain, I started walking cross footed, sometimes reverse way etc…. This made me to put strain on other parts rather than joints. At around 7:15 AM, we reached the Fuji 5th station. I just went into a building near the parking lot, sat with my legs stretched and relaxed for about 30 mins. I could see almost all the people were back and did not complete their trek due to the dangerous weather condition up there.

The rain didn’t stop at all. We checked for the bus but the ticket counter was closed and upon inquiry with the traffic policeman, we came to know that it will open at 8:40 AM. So we went into a shopping mart and sat on a bench and waited. Near the entrance there was big board saying that any person who carries rock or any plant from Mt. Fuji will be punished by Japanese Government, so i threw the stone then and there itself. When the ticket counter opened, they said that we can board the bus directly and the bus will be coming at 10AM. I was fully shivering, all my extra clothes were wet as my bag was fully drenched. I did not have any option other than facing the chillness. At-last, bus came and driver did not let us in first because priority was of reserved. So we waited outside in the rain and then finally boarded the bus. As soon as bus left, I slept for an hour. I missed all those beautiful scenery but was still happy that in some hours I will be reaching home. By 2:40PM, we reached home. Had sleep for around 3 hours then woke-up, sat in hot bath tub for about 45 minutes and relaxed.

Morning when I woke-up, in TV they were showing that Japan has been hit by a Typhoon and people are expected to stay in their houses. Then I realized that the reason for such an adventure was due to this bloody typhoon :( which made me not to see the summit nor the crater but gave the best trek of my life.


Giri M S P said...

Good one Arun ! Interesting stuff :). Maybe another trip awaits you next year to fulfill your dreams of reaching the summit !

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