We land around 5pm, Tokyo time, got on the bus for the hotel, checked in, threw the bags in the room, changed into hiking stuff, and ran to get the last bus to the Tokyo train station. From there we got on the first of 4 trains to the town of Gotemba. Because we arrived at midnight, a bus was out of the question, so we got in the only cab there and off to the mountain.
This cab driver dropped us off at Station 5, which was about halfway up the mountain (at around 5000′, the mountain’s about 11,000′). It’s 1am, there is not another soul around, the cabbie honks, waves, and off he goes. We put on all 3 layers cuz it’s blowing and cold, our headlamps, and off WE go. We very soon find a sign that tells us that the mountain trails closed as of the DAY BEFORE, but things like that NEVER stop a Jordan.
Now, when I say this hike was a 6-hour uphill hike, I don’t mean it meandered about the mountainside for 6 hours. I mean that aside from a few steep switchbacks at the beginning (2 hours’ worth), this trail went STRAIGHT up Mt. Fuji. Check the pic at our effort at bouldering, when we were using both hands and both feet to climb. This climb was extremely strenuous – Mom and Dad, there is no way you could have possibly done this – I was so glad we didn’t try that. There’s a train that circles the base that you could have done, but we never saw that.
On the trail on the way up, there are numerous “tea huts” where if it weren’t after the season closed, and it weren’t 3 o’clock in the morning, we could have had tea, beer, snacks; you can even make a reservation and spend the night in them. We found one open hut where we were happy to pay 1100 yen ($12) for 2 candy bars and a bottle of water.
We saw the sky beginning to lighten around 5, and we hustled up the last hour (and by hustle, I mean huff and puff, stop and rest, suck wind, shuffle, stop, step, wheeze) to reach the summit by sunrise. It was absolutely worthwhile when we saw that burst of brilliance with the clouds below us, and clear blue sky above. It was FREEZING and windy up top, so we hurried over to look into the volcano (dramatic), made a stop at the summit potty, and headed back down.
That was strenuous too, and steep and relentless for 3 hours. We emerged at a different station than we began, but we only had about an hour’s wait til the bus showed up to take us in the reverse for the NEXT 5 hours.
Would we do it again? Ask next week when we are not so sore, and we’d have to have motivation – like maybe the kids going?!? Maybe we’ll just ride that train next time…