Didn’t read Part I? Climbing Up (And Pooping On) Mount Fuji (Part I).
TL;DR: I’m now sitting in the freezing cold on top of Mount Fuji waiting for the sunrise after a crowded and frustrating climb up from the fifth station.
I open my eyes.
Yup, just as I suspected, still dark. Have I managed to sleep at all? I must have drifted off for at least a little. Time passes far too slowly when I am aware of what’s going on.
My legs have gone numb from sitting hunched over and cross-legged. Or perhaps they’ve decided to detach themselves and make their way down the mountain.
Nope. Still there.
I manage to move my feet in front of me and I pull my legs to my chest. Bad idea.
This displaces all the bodily-heated air within my jacket, and a rush of freezing swoops in to replace it.
My core temperature proceeds to plummet.
I guess ultralight was too light.
Hikers are now reaching the summit at a much quicker pace than before my brief lapse in consciousness (so I guess I did sleep?).
In light of my recent comfort loss, I decide it’s time to venture out of my sheltered stronghold (up against a wall) and into the wind tunnel of iciness that is the summit.
I didn’t come up here to endure the freezing cold of the night and not have a front-row seat to the morning’s show. Only two more hours until it starts. I think?
I claim a plot of dirt at the front of the designated “everyone crowd here to wait for sunrise” space and resume the futile process of attempting to keep warm.
People begin filling in around me, and I am soon surrounded by an anxious host of weary hikers.
I really have to pee.
As the sky slowly begins to fill with light, I turn around and see what has morphed into a human wall at least a dozen bodies deep. Looks like I will be holding it.
The sun peeks over the horizon and a man begins yelling (in Japanese) out of a loudspeaker fixed somewhere upon the mountaintop. What better to remind me that I have stumbled into an amusement park, and am not surrounded by nature whilst perched upon Japan’s tallest mountain?
So, is the sunrise from Fuji beautiful? It is.
However, it is not the euphoric hyperbole-fueled spectacle that many people would have you believe (unless maybe they have managed to reach this point in their life without having seen a sunrise).
It reminds me of the sunrise from atop Maui’s Haleakala volcano, and it fails to instill any life-altering inspiration within me (probably because I am a hollow shell).
And now, as I sit and do something I have been told not to do since I was a child (that’s staring at the sun, for anyone who opted not to use their brains here), surrounded by hundreds of other people, all I can think about is how badly I have to pee.
It’s time to get off this mountain.
Beginning my descent, I quickly come to realize that the views offered by the trip down Fuji (during the day) are spectacular (and dare I say superior to the sunrise).
Of course, there is still the issue of the mountain’s many tour inflamed tumors, but passing these obstacles becomes easier on the way down (although I did not manage to make it yelled-at-free).
The trail is a continuation of the one I hiked up (the Yoshida Trail), and it can best be described as a groomed staircase of wide, sandy switchbacks, walled by slopes too steep to cut.
Despite the now beautiful view from above the clouds, I am anxious to reach the bottom and nap on the bus while the rest of my group trickles down the mountain.
And in case you were wondering (because I know you were), I managed to relieve the pressure building in my bladder – crisis averted.
The trail eventually loops back into itself as it nears the fifth station and my Fuji adventure draws to a close.
Arriving back at the bus, just a few hours after leaving the summit, I look back at the giant hill of ash and wonder what a winter ascent would be like (something to think about).
Resisting the temptations of the many shops and restaurants (there’s even a post office – why?), I instead choose to lay on the ground beside our locked bus as I wait for the appropriate party to return with a device capable of opening the door.
Asphalt makes the comfiest of napping spots.
So was the trip worth it? Yes.
I have been in situations to “take someone else’s word for it” before, and have always preferred to make my own mistakes (whether this is wise or foolish, I am still uncertain of).
Would I do it again? Definitely not (except maybe from sea level, just for the novelty).
Would I do it over knowing what I know now? Probably (because whoever told me “what I know now” was probably not trustworthy).
Despite my complaining (so many people), I enjoyed Fuji. That being said, for anyone with a tight schedule in Japan, or for those opting to take only one adventure into the country’s wilderness, I would suggest investing your time elsewhere.
But hey, what do I know? (Everything. The answer is “everything”.)