2016 Japan summer trip (day 4)

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July 26
4:53 am – Got up
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It was another cloudy day. Or probably it was still early.

6:25 am – Checked out
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Shizuoka manhole design; most of them had this same design but some weren’t as colorful.

6:40 am – At Shizuoka station

7:02 am – Train to Higashi-Shizuoka station
The train to Fuji station goes through Higashi-Shizuoka station and I got off at Higashi-Shizuoka to leave some of my stuff at a locker. This was part of the plan as the bus going back to Kyoto will be departing near Higashi-Shizuoka station.

At first I didn’t know the lockers can be accessed without exiting the station’s ticket gates. Thinking the lockers were somewhere on the open area outside of the ticket gates, I went out ending a short train ride. After looking around and failing to locate them, I asked one of the station’s staff where the lockers were and he told me it was inside the ticket gates.

He let me go back inside through a different entrance (this is a part of the entrance where commuters with train passes go through), dumped my stuff inside a locker, went out the same way and again went in through the ticket gates down to the platform. I looked kind of silly as I was going back and forth through the ticket gates.

7:27 am – Train to Fuji station

8:07 am – Train to Fujinomiya station

8:39 am – At Fujinomiya station

9:00 am – Bus to Fujinomiya 5th station
This was the second time in as many days I had gone on the wrong bus.

I was somehow having doubts whether or not I was on the right waiting area. On the one hand, I could clearly see a sign that said ‘the line to the bus going to the 5th station starts here’. On the other hand, I was the only one wearing anything resembling hiking apparel. In fact, all of the other people waiting were of the older generation.

I didn’t think much of it partly because I knew the 5th station was also somewhat of a tourist spot. People going there won’t necessarily be going up the mountain. They could just be checking out the views or buying something from the gift shop.

The bus came before 9:00 and as it pulled over, everyone hopped on.

Around half an hour had gone by and I noticed we were on a some sort of highway along the coast.
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I wasn’t fazed as I knew it was still early. After about another half an hour, I noticed we were in an urban area, with the bus dropping off a few people at a time at specific bus stops. That’s when I realized, I was on the wrong bus.

A few more minutes later, the bus was pulling up to a sort of parking lot. The driver killed the engine, got up and noticed me – the only remaining passenger. I told him that I was supposed to go to the 5th station but (obviously) got on the wrong bus.

10:17 am – I had no idea where I was
This is one of the reasons why I love Japanese people, they are just too kind! The driver walked me to the nearest (and by nearest I mean almost a full kilometer) bus stop where I was supposed to take a certain bus going back to Shizuoka station. Not only that, he also waited with me until the correct bus arrived. We chatted for a bit while waiting. When the bus came, I said my thanks and apologized for the inconvenience (it was the middle of the day, he was obviously still on duty).

10:33 am – Bus to Shizuoka station

10:49 am – Shizuoka station

10:55 am – Train to Fuji station

11:39 am – Train to Fujinomiya station
I ended up redo-ing the trip from Shizuoka station to Fujinomiya station minus the locker drop by.

12:14 pm – Bus to Fujinomiya 5th station

1:36 pm – At Fujinomiya 5th station
I lost 3 hours during that ‘joy ride’.

It was raining when I got to the 5th station. This was taken from the viewing deck near the shop.
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It was a bit cold too.
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2:10 pm – Supplies
I remembered how helpful walking sticks were during my January hikes so I bought one from the shop. It also doubles as a souvenir since on every station, you can get a sort of stamp branded on your stick. I only got the stamp from the top though.

I also bought a shoe and shin cover so that my shoes won’t get soaking wet during the rain. Can’t remember if I saw some oxygen tanks at the shop though.

Didn’t really need to buy anything else as I was already fully stocked up on food and liquids for the hike. Besides, items here are a bit more expensive than usual. And the higher you get, the higher the prices go as well.

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As mentioned, there’s a shop and restaurant at the 5th station.

3:10 pm – Started walking to 6th station
I hung out for more than an hour at the 5th station to get accustomed to the high altitude. I felt fine throughout the almost 90 minutes of acclimation period. I also tried walking around the area to see if I would feel any change. Nothing. Still fine.

It was a little after 3:00 pm when I decided to go. I grabbed my stuff and started walking towards the start of the route.

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Marker for the Fujinomiya trail’s 5th station.

On the way there, I passed by the Mt. Fuji conservation donation station, gave the 1000JPY donation and chatted a bit with the people there. I then decided to drop by the Information area to ask for a map. I had an informative chat with the guy there as he asked what my plans were when I asked for a map.

I told him that I was planning to go straight and wait for the sunrise at the top. To which, he advised against as he estimates I would get to the top hours before sunrise and would probably spend a bit of time out in the cold. He suggested I stay at one of the huts for a while and continue at a later time so as to arrive at the top a few minutes before sunrise. He also gave me a pamphlet that has information on the mountain huts along the trail.

I thanked the man and went on my way.

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You’ll see this giant board at the trail head.

A few steps in, I was already feeling some tingling at the back of my head. I was dismissive of it but cautious enough to change my pace to an even slower one. I read up on altitude sickness a few times before the trip and I am somewhat familiar with the symptoms. I was pretty sure I was getting one.

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There’s a height marker before the first corner.

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Couldn’t see the top as it was a cloudy afternoon.

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I let a group pass as I was going really slow.

The hike from the 5th to the 6th station had a moderate slope and the surface was filled with tiny pebbles that may cause you to slip if you’re not careful.

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Almost at the 6th station.

3:50 pm – At the 6th station
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View from the ‘balcony’ on the 6th station. Still cloudy.

On the way to the 6th station, the slight tingling gradually turned into a throbbing pain at the back of my head. It gets worse when I do sudden movements with my head.

I rested for a bit on the benches near the 6th station and moved on.

4:10 pm – On the way to the new 7th station
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The path starts to get a little bit steeper.

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I could barely see the next station.

At this point I was moving even slower. I remembered I instituted a 60-steps-then-1-minute-rest pace a few minutes after leaving the 6th station.

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The path was marked by painted white arrows on rocks.

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Still cloudy.

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That, I believe, is Hoeizan, a secondary peak on the southeast side that was formed when Mt. Fuji last erupted way back in 1707 and 1708.

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There goes the group that passed me by a while ago.

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I can see a bit of the new 7th station’s hut.

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Getting closer.

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These were the only types of plant life that I could see on the way up.

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Almost there.

6:08 pm – At the new 7th station
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Because of my slower pace, it took me almost 2 hours to traverse the normally 60-minute segment of the hike.

There were more rocks than pebbles on the way to the new 7th station. Also, the rain stopped for a bit while I was getting here.

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It was still cloudy.

6:30 pm – On the way to the old 7th station
After more than 20 minutes of rest, I started moving again.
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The next station looked very tiny from here.

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Looking back to the new 7th station.

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It was getting dark.

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I reached 3000 MASL at around 7:33 pm.

7:42 pm – At the old 7th station
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Even though it was cold, I was sweating on the inside. I changed my shirt and rested for a bit on the benches near the hut.

Oh, I forgot to mention, there was wireless internet near the huts (probably along the trail too, I can’t be sure as I did not check). I had read a few articles on the internet that there would be internet on the mountain.

Before I went on this trip, I knew there was supposed to be a scheduled activity on the project that I was working on. I was checking if I had any emails from the other people involved. I was supposed to be on a supporting duty that midnight onwards. Luckily, it got rescheduled. One less thing for me to worry about.

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This was taken while I was taking a rest on the benches.

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After almost 9 months of having this phone (a Zenfone Selfie), this was just the first time I intentionally used it for a selfie. Behind is a long drop on the side of Mt. Fuji.

There was nobody else when I arrived at the old 7th station. I could see some people inside the hut and that was it. A few minutes after I had eaten, someone had arrived. The wind also started to pick up speed when I got to the old 7th station.

After a few minutes of rest, I decided to take the info guy’s advice and asked the hut if they still had a vacancy. Fortunately, there was still some empty beds and I was able to get one for a few hours.

What prompted me to do this? Well, I thought if I could lie down for a bit out of the cold, the throbbing pain at the back of my head might subside and I may be able to continue the hike with less discomfort. I decided to give the theory a shot even though the around 4-hour stay cost 5500JPY.

Calling it a bed was a bit generous. It’s basically a vacant space enough to fit a human lying down. The inside of the hut was like a closet for people: a tatami-covered area having a 1-meter wide walkway in the middle and sleeping spaces on both sides. The sleeping spaces had a sort of mezzanine area (probably around 4 feet in height) above it where more people were trying to sleep.

I was placed somewhere on the ‘second floor’ between probably an 8 or 9-year old sleeping child and a sleeping woman. I had to crawl extra slow so as to not disturb both of them.

Past 9:00 pm – Inside the hut
I tried my best to get some sleep but I was really just lying down for about three hours covering my eyes and getting kicked on the legs by the child on my left side.


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