Fujisan

There was an earthquake this morning at around 4:30. Not a big one and probably wouldn’t have woken me up, not like some of the other ones we have had.

You know how I know about it? I installed this app that alerts you to coming earthquakes… the problem is… the alert comes to your phone and I swear to you its as loud an emergency PA system. Not to mention that it’s in Japanese. So to say I was startled, concerned, freaked out is quite the understatement. I saw my life flash before my eyes and panicked thinking I would die being so confused about everything because there was no English. Alas, hardly anything shook, it wasn’t a big deal and I have since disabled that feature but that didn’t stop me from being awake since 4:45.

Before heading to the outer fish market at Tsukiji this morning, I thought I’d share some about my Mt. Fuji hike last weekend.

We started the hike in the middle of the night at the 5th station (at about 7k feet) with the plans to climb to the summit (at 12+k feet) overnight. It’s quite the traditional route to leave in the evening and travel up the mountain to arrive at the summit at sunrise.

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It was the highest I had ever been before and it was breathtaking to say the least. Watching the sun slowly rise and then shine in all it’s glory was remarkable. What was equally remarkable was that we didn’t have a single drop of rain on the way up or back. Clear starry starry skies on the way up, and sunny blue skies on the way down.

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All in all, I think I was prepared for a hike that was going to be much harder than it turned out to be. Maybe that was because it was dark, maybe it was because I was just excited to be climbing Fuji, maybe it’s because you climb the mountain fairly slowly due to the altitude, or maybe I’m in better shape than I thought (doubt it).

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At the end, we were going to walk around the crater but decided it was cold, we hadn’t slept in nearly 24 hours, and it was best we just start our descent home.

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While I recommend you hike Mt. Fuji if you can and you do so at sunrise, I don’t think I’d ever recommend doing it twice. The descent is steep continuous switchbacks going down, down, down in thick lava rock gravel, that you can only imagine in your hiking nightmares. Oh my knees. They still ache just thinking about it. Actually, I think they still physically ache. But for this… I’d have achy knees any day.

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Mt. Takao

Saturday, I got up early and spent a few minutes chatting with my Dad and sister before heading to catch the train for Mt. Takao. I hadn’t heard about Takao until the managing partner at the office recommended I check it out after I had mentioned I love hiking and was planning to hike Fuji in July.

Takao is about an hour outside of Tokyo and just a quick train ride away. There are quite a few trails to get to the top of Mt. Takao, which reaches 599 meters, and then a number of trails continue on and around Takao. I opted to extend the hike to go to Mt. Shiroyama which goes a little higher, up to 670 meters (about 2200 ft). There were a few times up the hill that were a little slow going but the Japanese are generally polite to move out of your way to let you pass and after I got past the main Mt. Takao peak, the crowds tapered off, but neither trail ever felt overwhelmingly crowded.

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It was a crystal clear, 70 and sunny day but 100%, undoubtedly, the highlight of my hike was that because of the gorgeous weather, Mt. Fuji was clearly visible. As I crested the last little hill, I audibly awed over the sight of it. So breathtaking and majestic. Oh, my heart was happy.

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And then I thought, hmmmm, that is ALOT of snow to melt in 2 months when official climbing season kicks off on July 1st. However, I know we’ve got some warm weather ahead and it’ll be good to go by the time Cale and I head there to climb on July 5-6.

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From the top of each point, you could also see a view of the massive expanse that is the Tokyo metropolitan area. It just continues on and on and on.

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I’ve also come to the realization that I’m developing a minor obsession with all these tree roots, I’m my mother’s daughter. She’d take a picture of every rock, flower, flora, fauna given the chance.

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On the way back, I stopped at a shop near the train and picked up a few fresh steamed buns. One was filled with vegetables and SO delicious. The perfect post hike snack.

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If you ever make it Tokyo and have an extra day to spend and the weather is clear, I’d highly highly recommend taking some time for Mt. Takao. Great hike and great sights!

P.S. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MOM! I can’t wait for our adventures in just a few weeks! I love you more than words can express. I want to be like her when I grow up.