Monday, September 17, 2007

Its Friday night about 12:00 midnight. Me, Andy who came over and my friend jump out of the car and its freezing cold!! I was surprised how cold it was. The night was clear and the stars were bright. We put on our gear and turned our headlamps on and started up the mountain. We started at stage 5. It tool only a few minutesfor us to reach stage 6. When we got there I thought to myself "this really isn`t that bad. No big deal". When we got to stage 6 there was no onethere. We did see other climbers on the mountain above us. We could see their lights. We took the wrong trail at stage 6 and instead of climbing up we noticed the trail was actually taking us down and around. I thought this couldn`t be right. We stopped and talked about it for a minute. We decided to hike back to stage 6 and make sure we took the right trail. Well we didn`t! We ended up wasting about 20 minutes trying to figure out what was going on. We had to hurry because we wanted to see the sun rise.

The hike from stage 6 started to get a little tougher. I found myself starting to breath heavy and needing more and more rest. We understood that we wasted too much energy on the previous stage. So the hike started to get a little slower. But we finally were able to find our pace and kept continuing up the mountain. I learned the trick is to slow it down and stay consistent in pace. I wish I would have learned that earlier like when wes tarted. Its about 3:30am and we are at Stage 7 now. Its getting windy and some mist and fog is rolling in. We rest for a little bit and start up for stage 8. We are going along for about 20 minutes and pass some people coming down. Iask them how far to stage 8. They tell me they didn`t know because it was so windy they gave up. When I heard that I thought..."great this is goingto get fun now". So we kept going and little by little the weather started toget worse. The wind really started to get strong and the mist was very heavy. My jacket started to drip water from the moisture in the air and it was getting colder and colder. I was getting really worried about Andy. But he was really hanging in there.

Stage 8 took forever! We hiked and hiked. It seemed to never come and then finally we made it. We rested for a few minutes and ate some food. My friend and Andy fell asleep for a few minutes and I refused to sit down. I knew if I sat down I would be dead. So I just stood up and ate some nuts and chocolate. After about 15 minutes we decided to start up to stage 9. We know that was going to be rough also. The wind was really bad now and we passed more people going the other way. However, by now the sky was getting lighter. We hoped maybe we could still make it to the top for the sun rise but also wondered if the mist would clear to see a sunrise. We got to stage 9 and we had a little more energy. But I was having a hard time breathing. My friend took out his little O2 tank and took a few breaths. I had one also but the wind was so crazy and the mist was starting to feel like rain so I didn`t want to take off my pack. I just stood up again and ate a protein bar and drank some water. I knew again if I sat down I wouldn`t get back up. So no sitting. We knew there was only 1 more stage and the sky was getting lighter. So we started up. After a while we were able to turn offour head lamps. It was about 6:30am. We knew we missed the sunrise. I was disappointed. Still the weather was so bad we knew the sunrise would not bevisible anyway. But we thought we should at least get to the top since we climbed so much. The wind was really bad and the mist was now rain. The rain was falling sideways in our face and really blowing into us. I was so happy I spent some money on good rain gear. We were completely dead now. We saw some people coming down. My friend asked how much longer before we get to the top. He said "its about another 15 minutes right"? The guy looked at us and said "no its about another 45 minutes from here and with this weather it could take you much longer". I about died. Andy almost died too. He said "thats not what I wanted to hear!!" Part of me felt to just give up and leave. The other part said just finish it! So we decided to finish. We finally made it on top about 7:45am.

As I got to the top the wind was so bad it was almost hard to stand. The rain was coming down hard and you could see nothing. Everything was closed because hiking season was over. We stood next to a wall of a small building trying to get some shelter from the wind and rain. But that didn`t work. We saw standing there in the rain on top of Mt. Fuji a guy in tennis shoes, a light nylon jacket with no hat, no gloves, and jeans. I couldn`t believe it! He was shaking so bad and his face looked almost panicked. I asked if he was ok in Japanese and learned he wasn`t Japanese. I think he was Chinese. My friend and I knew he was in trouble. It was cold, wet, and windy. I was wondering if the rain was going to turn to snow. It was that cold. I thought this guy could die up here very easy. But there was nothing we could really do for him. He started down the hill shaking and looking really bad. We decided to follow him down after a couple minutes. We were only on the top for about 10minutes and decided to get down. So we left. We tried to look for this guy but never saw him again. I really wondered if he was ok but nothing on the news so I guess so. No news is good news. Still I can`t believe how stupid some people can be.

About halfway down the weather broke. The wind died down and the rainfinally stopped. My feel and hands were soaked. The sun felt so good. Werested at stage 7 again for a few minutes and ate some food and enjoyed thesun. It actually started to get hot now. I pulled off some clothes andpacked them up. It felt good. But I was upset because now the weather was really nice and we couldn`t see anything on top. Oh well... we continued back down and finally made it to the car.

The last stage down the mountain almost killed me. My body was so stiff and my muscles were tight. I have never been so happy to see a car in my life. We got some fresh clothes outof the car and changed real quick and left. I was so happy to finally sit.It was the first time I sat down since we started to climb up. Driving back down to the hotel I was trying so hard to stay awake. My friend kept talking to me and I was trying to listen but found myself closing my eyeslonger and longer. He stopped at a 7-11 and I bought a coke and a niku man.That kept me awake until we finally reached the hotel.The hot hot shower never felt so good. I tried to stretch my legs and back in the hot water. I should have went to an onsen. But I was too tired to do anything. I got out of the shower and laid in bed at around 4:30pm. Ataround 6:30 I woke up and was hungry. So I went and got some pizza and spaghetti at a near by restaurant (which was good!). After eating I went back to the hotel and fell asleep at around 8:00pm.I woke up around 8:00am and my body was stiff. My legs ached so much and my throat was sore. But I was ok. We went up to the top floor of the hotel toeat some breakfast. From our table we had a great view of Mt. Fuji. As welooked I said how disappointed I was we couldn`t see the sunrise or the topwhile we were there. It was quiet for a few minutes, I then said well I guess we have to come back next year and do this all over again. So we decided thats what we will do. Everyone told me that in Japan people say "a person climbs Mt. Fuji once but a fool climbs it twice". I will be that fool as long as my body gets back to normal in the next couple days.

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