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.

Kamakura

Kamakura was my Tuesday adventure and has been my favorite spot so far. I spent a long day there (14 miles long) and it had all of my favorite things. Cute little shops, hiking, good food, and some sights.

The way the city and sights are laid out, you can go on two different hiking trails and see the best sights while taking a pit stop between hikes to head down the main drag to see the shops, eat, etc. I should back up, the city is laid out that way, but that’s not necessarily how I explored it. I had some navigational issues and had to cut out one of the trails due to my poor map reading skills. The kind people of Japan saved the day again and directed me on the correct course.

The first trail, Diabutsu, leads to the Big Buddha of Kamakura, the main attraction in the city. The trail was really well marked and it’s so interesting to experience a different terrain. Along the trail, I found the exposed tree roots, oftentimes used as steps, to be pretty fascinating.

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The Big Buddha was equally impressive. They burn incense at most of the shrines/temples and the Diabutsu had the best smelling incense in my journey so far. It just smelled so cozy and welcoming… that must be the 15 years of the Pacific Northwest in me.  _DSC0684

Towards the end of the day, I went to Kencho-ji temple and entered just a few minutes before closing, due to said navigation issues. The woman at the gate was kind enough to let me in (along with a few other people coming in after me) and said (in English) I could let myself out the side gate. It couldn’t have worked out better. It was me and about 20 other people in the large expanse of the grounds. It was the definition of peaceful. I could have just roamed around and sat there all day if my feet hadn’t been beckoning me home.

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I’m not sure what they do here in Japan, but I swear they give all their plants ‘roids or something. I have never seen so many beautiful flowers with such vibrant colors and sweet fragrances. I have started restraining myself from photographing every plant/flower I see, but it is so hard because they are so gorgeous that they don’t seem real!

Peonies, like woah. I. can’t. get. enough.

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I don’t know what this is, kind of looks like ranunculus. I do know that I want one… for the yard I don’t have.

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I also got a few things for myself while roaming around, including the cutest lucky cat. You had to know I would be buying myself one. Nanny will also be ecstatic that I found some of our “ice-cream” spoons at a steal of 150 yen a piece!

Hiking and Almond Granola

After living in the Seattle area for 2 years… I finally ventured to hike the infamous Mt. Si on Saturday! I went with a co-worker turned friend and another great friend and frequent hiking partner-in-crime/sweat.

4 miles up and 3,150 ft. of elevation gain gets you this. Well not this exactly… take the three of us out and that’s what you get.

We booked it up the mountain, climbing the first 4 miles in an hour and 40 minutes. Yeah that’s right, all 3,150 feet elevation gain. The average time up is about 2.5 hours. Let’s just say, no one passed us.

Talk about timing, we got up to the top and had a view of Mt. Rainier for about 5 minutes and then the clouds rolled in.  (You can see it just faintly). The panting, “let’s uh talk uh later uh because uh I can’t uh breathe” moments, and unreal amounts of sweat (so sexy) were worth it.

The 4 miles down, we took a more stroll-like pace, laughing and chatting. I’d imagine the people going up were probably extremely perturbed at those “happy laughing girls.” We’re ladies… get it straight.

“Hey, you guys look at those pretty berries.”

“Oh, oh, and those moss-covered trees are so cool! I’ve got to take a picture.” It’s all about appreciating the flora and fauna, folks. AND I’m so turning into my mother, she’s never seen a rock that didn’t catch her eye.

What better to do after 8 miles? Make granola, duh.

If I had thought this through a little more, I would have made granola in time for a pre-hike breakfast but hindsight’s always 20-20, as long as I’ve got my contacts in.

Start with the dry goods. Oats, coconut, raisins, almonds, wheat germ (not pictured, I forgot about it until step 3), cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and a dash of ginger.

Add in the wet. Agave nectar and canola oil.

Mix the dry and the wet ingredients all together. Is it weird that I thought this tasted good? Post-hike delusion maybe?

Spread it on a lined baking sheet in one thin layer and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden in color.

Serve with your favorite yogurt, by itself, or some nice cold milk.

Raisin Almond Granola

This is a combination and tweaking of multiple recipes so I could get what I really liked. 🙂

2 c. Rolled Oats (not quick cooking)

1 c. Slivered Almonds

1 c. Raisins

1/2 c. Wheat Germ

1 tsp. Cinnamon

Dash Nutmeg and Ginger (about 1/8 tsp. each)

1/2 c. Agave Nectar

1/3 c. Canola Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, combine all of the dry ingredients. Add add the oil and agave and mix to combine. Make sure everything is well coated with the oil and agave mixture.

Spread in one thin layer onto a parchment (or foil) lined backing sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden, mixing and turning 2-3 times during the cooking process.

Let cool and store in an airtight container for up to week.