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The hotel staff told me I needed to get up at 1:00am to make it up the mountainside for a 4:30am sunrise, which seemed a bit ridiculous to me, as the final leg was reportedly only a 1.5-hour hike, but as it would be a wretched shame to sleep in until 2:30am, get stuck in the crowds, and miss the sunrise, I decided to suck it up and do as they said. Although I was in bed by 9:00pm, sleep eluded me most of the night and I only ended up getting about an hour’s rest.
[You pass between white stone lions at the Ninth Station...]
[...and then through a white stone gate]
As it was, I had a lazy start and headed out at about 1:30am. I made it to the top in the hour and a half that was predicted, and found myself layered up and freezing on the windy volcano peak. Following a tour group, I made it around to the highest point on the volcano in the dark, partially out of a desire to reach the highest point, and partially out of a desire to keep moving for the sake of generating body heat (which I’m not naturally inclined to do). The trail was terrifying at times, with no barrier to separate you from a long, long tumble down the mountainside (volcanoside?). It seems scarier when you’re physically exhausted, sleep-deprived, and carrying a heavy pack on your back in heavy winds. Clutching my poor excuse for a flashlight in one hand and my hiking stick in the other hand, I made my way back around to the side facing the sunrise, found a quite spot, and sat down to wait.
[Looking back at the endless trail of lights of hikers snaking their way up Mt. Fuji]
Next post: Climbing Mt. Fuji: Sunrise