Journey to Mt. Fuji

We did it!

3776 m above sea level, highest peak in Japan.
Monday: Left Tokyo by train at 8.30am and started the ascension at 12pm.
Tuesday: Finished the hike back at Fifth Station at 9am and arrived back to Tokyo by 3pm

Took us 3 hours on the Yoshida Trail from the 5th station to our hut where we stayed overnight at the 8th station. Challenging climb as we got higher is a summit after all! For supper, the hut provided a warm meal which consisted of a bento box with curry and rice with grilled fish and pickled vegetables. Sleeping bags was provided at the hut we stayed at. Very clean place. Woke up at 1am in the dark with headlamps to continue the ascension and beat the crowd to the summit for the sunrise at 4.45am. Got a nice view of the stars while climbing up. Thankful that it didn’t rain during the climb and that we were prepared for the drop in temperatures (started from 30 degrees C at the base to 5 degrees closer to the summit). As expected, it was crowded with people trying to catch the sunrise and we luckily had 10 minutes to spare.

We found descending the mountain was so much harder as it was steep covered with loose pebbles and small rocks taking chances on falling forward.

The glittering stars was best viewed at high elevation.

Best moment when the sun appeared from above the clouds as we watched the sky become awash with golden orange hues. So amazing to share this experience with my two daughters.

‘ A wise man climb Mt. Fuji once, a fool climbs it twice’.

Glad we did it though.

The last time I went on a mountain top was with my brother in 2015. It was our first brother-sister trip and the 1st anniversary of our mother's death. The loss of our mother began our new stage of 'growing up' even though we were adults. She was an elegant, well-dressed, hard-working, and very organized woman - takes care of the household, business, the profession, and family. She is also known for her love of Louis Vuitton bags! Thinking back, her priority is family and she would check-in on us, and always offer us support and advice. Even though, we were relieved that she was at least not suffering and at peace, that year she was gone had been quite a painful process as we had relied on her, loved her, and missed her so much.

Mountains are indeed majestic and beautiful, and yet intimidating and requires immense effort to climb it! To me, climbing mountains are metaphors of life. So one needs to be physically and mentally at ease to make their journey up easier. However, I have learned that no matter how much you try to prepare yourself, I was going to face physical and mental obstacles anyway. I come from Ontario with no hills and Mt. Fuji is a summit. Also, I was not as fit since the last time I went on a mountain a few years ago. A lot my stamina and physical endurance has changed since I had a baby #3.

After a few hours of climbing, I was getting fatigued...and cranky at times because my two teenagers were starting to complain (even I was starting to complain) legs were getting weak and thighs were burning, I was starting to worry that my fatigue will cause me to make a mistake and I will slip on those rocks....then I started to doubt myself by thinking I did not prepare myself better, was I over my head thinking of inflicting pain as a vacation for my family...?

I looked ahead and saw my two daughters and I suddenly had a flashback of my mother and her walk on the Great Wall of China in 2007. You see, she was terrified of heights. While the family were ahead and excited walking along the wall, she wore sunglasses (and her Louis Vuitton bag of course) so she can't look down, walking slowly and cautiously while leaning on the wall for guidance like a blind person. Apparently being with family gave her courage to keep sticking together, and in the end, regardless how long we waited for her at the top of the ladder, she managed to reach the final destination and climbed up that ladder. Our family could remember hearing her steps from below and the first thing we saw was her Louis Vuitton bag on top of that landing. She did it!

I shared that story with my daughters because they were there as well at 4 years and 2 years old when waiting for their grandma (po po) on top of that landing. That story gave us happy memories of their 'po po' and the laughs gave us that break we needed. For the rest of the hike, the girls and I slowed down our pace (counting 1-4 in our heads help) and we recognized that feeling when we reached the top and put our backpacks down on that final destination. We stuck together in the end and we did it. Once we saw the rising sun, it was all worth it. Not sure we would do that Mt.Fuji hike again though :)

- Jane

Jane Cheung