Fuji-San, Japan, Our hike to the summit!
We made it to the top of Mt Fuji in August! Happy we did it, glad it’s done. I’m very thankful we had a beautiful day to hike on. The mountain itself isn’t very pretty to hike but the views were pretty amazing to look at. I’m not sure how I’d feel if we had a wet or cloudy day where you can’t see 3 ft in front of you. I’m not the type that needs to climb mountains to say I did it. I climb them for the pictures.
We took a group bus up and started at 5th station. These were our walking sticks. I started out with the Japan flag and bought a rising sun flag at the summit since I liked it better and they didn’t have any at the bottom for us. The sticks start with the 5th station stamp and you can get another stamp at each hut you stop at. They range in price from 200-400yen ($2-$4) each. Most were 300yen. For some reason I was thinking each station had one stamp so you’d get to the top with a couple of stamps. But each station has several huts, all with a different stamp. So we ended up filling one of my sides completely and half the other. Hubby started filling up his and then we realized it was probably a bit silly to spend the money filling up both sticks. We’d probably only display one in our home anyways. We hung out at 5th station for about 25-30 minutes getting acclimated to the altitude. I did buy some oxygen but didn’t end up needing it. We took it slow and steady without stopping too much except for our stamps and did fine. We did see someone throwing up and another hyperventilating so altitude sickness is something to be aware of. The view from 5th station. It doesn’t look far to go at all, right?! The top seemed deceptively close.Starting out the trail went down first, which I’m glad I read about otherwise I would have thought we were on the wrong trail. What was terrible is getting down the mountain with sore knees and having to climb back up at the very very end.
Super hubby carrying my pack for me so I could dry out. Here’s a great tip for those using Camelbaks for water. Put it in a plastic bag before you put it inside your backpack. The air pressure before you even get off the bus will cause it to leak. Luckily I had everything else inside my bag in a plastic bag so those items stayed dry, but the pack itself and my entire back was soaked at one point. I’m so thankful it was warm out and I dried quickly. It would have been a miserable hike if it had been cold. Hubby’s leaked a bit as well from the altitude.
Traffic jam with the horses. I’m not positive but I think you can rent them to take you up to 7th station. Also the hike was not crowded for us at all. We went mid-week during a day hike right after the busiest hiking week (their Obon holiday week) so I think we lucked out on the crowds.
Getting our first stamp!
Looking down at 7th station I think and the switchbacks. The moment the hike started turning into mountain climbing vs hiking. I debated for awhile whether to bring my Canon 5DMarkii camera or just go with the iPhone. I think the weather played a big part of my decision. There wasn’t any rain forecasted so I decided to bring it. I’m so thankful I did, but I’m also a very comfortable hiker on slopes and felt I could do it without busting my butt. The hardest parts of the hike are climbing up the vertical switchbacks that look like the picture below. The rocks are big. You need both hands to help propel you upwards and if the camera is swinging around on your shoulder you are going to crack a lens. I don’t even have a picture of the large rocks because I was keeping my camera secure. The more concerning part is coming down the mountain. It’s all loose volcanic gravel. We saw lots of people falling on their butts. I’m happy I brought the big camera but I was also happy with the little iPhone as well. Probably half of these pictures on this post were taken with the iPhone because it was the faster of the two to reach. Getting closer to the top. This may have been 8th station.
9th station was just a hut that had fallen down (you can see the roof falling apart) and a landing area where people were resting. One last steep vertical push until the top! Passing through the Torii gate. See the hut at the top just behind it?! At the top! We just had our sticks stamped with the summit stamp. We sat in one of the restaurants and ate our ramen and miso soup before venturing around the crater. Perfect windy weather for kite flying.
One of my favorite pictures was an iPhone panorama pic I took of hubby watching watching the clouds develop. The ascent took us about 5 hours so we had some time to walk around the crater before we had to head down. I think that took us about an hour with lots of stopping to check out the view. The below left picture is the little summit post office. The right picture is new construction. I’m not sure what they were building.
What we took:
-We each had a backpack. Hubby carried 3L of water, I had 2L and was sipping off his during the descent after mine ran out.
-Extra pair of socks which I changed at the summit.
-Bandaids and moleskin (was very thankful we brought this. I had a hotspot on my heels early on which would have been painful had I not stopped to deal with it.
-Aspirin or pain reliever. I could tell hiking I’m not in my 20’s anymore. I took a pain reliever on the way up and again on the way down. Seemed to have helped especially on the way down.
-Fleece and raincoat. We luckily had gorgeous warm weather. I put the fleece on at one side of the summit because of the colder wind blowing at me but I was otherwise fine in a tank top.
-Sunglasses and sunscreen! We applied sunscreen every hour or so. You are in direct sun all day long. I also wore a hat. There was a group from base that had gone the week before and a few of them had 2nd degree burns on their hands, neck, etc because they didn’t bring sunscreen.
-Snacks. I brought a hodgepodge of snacks. Lara bars, Honey Stinger Energy Chews (these were great when you needed a little sugar pick-me-up), beef jerky, nuts and dried fruit, etc. I should have brought some breakfast food as well to eat on the bus. We left home at 4am on the bus and my stomach turns if I have breakfast too early so I only ate a banana before we started out. I quickly dug into the food as we were hiking along. You can also buy snacks at the huts. I was expecting very high prices but I didn’t have a problem paying 200yen for a candy bar when I really wanted some chocolate.
-Camera and phone. I don’t ever remember being without phone service so you can make an emergency call if need be. (We of course have a Japanese cell provider.)
-Hiking boots. Ankle support is so important, especially going to down. We saw two sprained ankles on the mountain. I can’t imagine how much that would suck. One guy went down the entire mountain backwards. Seriously. Buy some hiking boots that support your ankles.
-Light gloves for the rocks. I brought some but didn’t end up using them.
-Yen, lots of it. The lady at the bank advised a roll of 5000yen worth of 100yen coins per person hiking. I thought she was crazy. But I did it. It’s about $100 worth of coins for the two of us and we didn’t have much left over. We also spent about 8000 yen in bills between walking sticks, shopping and dinner. Some of the stores will take a credit card but there is a minimum purchase. I did see a lot of the huts taking 1000yen bills as well, but I’m not sure if all of them do.
-Plastic bags. These came in handy for trash and for a leaking Camelbak.
-Flashlight. If there’s any chance you won’t make it down the mountain before sunset, bring a flashlight or headlamp.
-Small towel or hand wipes for after bathroom use. There won’t be paper towels in the bathrooms.
-I brought a scarf instead of a mask. For one I didn’t have time to stop at the 100yen store to buy a mask but I figured I could wrap the scarf around my face to keep the dust out I needed to. I could also wrap it around my neck if I got cold. I did end up using it for a bit going downhill near the summit. I was so very dusty so I’m glad I brought something. And if it were cold a scarf would have been useful too. (The warm weather really threw us off.)
-Sandals, left on the bus for the ride home.
Yokota’s outdoor recreation has a good trip guide booklet (in English) to prepare for your hike. You can find it here.
Any questions, just ask!