Sunday, August 2, 2009

We did it!!

We made it to the top of Mt. Fuji!! It was essentially a horrendous experience (in a good way, if that's possible) that Corey and I will never, EVER repeat. At the same time, it was quite a memorable event, and we both consider it the biggest physical accomplishment of our lives so far (and Corey's been through military basic training!).
We had a nice early start to our day (the bus taking us to Fuji left at 3:30am), and after arriving at the base climbing station and purchasing our hiking sticks, we hit the trail around 6:30am. It was foggy (and would remain so all day long), but otherwise we had great climbing conditions- no wind, no rain, and fairly mild temperatures.

Within the first 15 minutes of the climb, as we were hiking straight uphill with no relief while I started to huff and puff, the following thoughts began going through my head:
- "This is INSANE."
- "There is no way I can do this."
- "Oh god, what have I gotten myself into?!"

We knew it was going to be a tough climb, but wow. It was TOUGH

I kept climbing, wondering when I would be able to bow out of this hike without looking too lame. I stuck with it for a while, and after we had been at it for 45 minutes or so, I got into the zone that kept me alive until we reached the top. It went something like this: turn brain off, take baby steps, one foot in front of the other, don't look up, don't look down, don't think, don't do anything but stare at the ground and your feet as you continue to move forward and up, nice and slow. This is how we felt for 90% of the day:
We stopped at each rest station for 5 minutes or so to catch our breath in the thin atmosphere, drink some water, eat a snack, and get a stamp burned onto our hiking sticks to have proof of our progress up the mountain. Then it was back to climbing. It seemed unending!

Somehow, miraculously, we reached the top 5 and a half hours later (30 mins faster than the average climbing time)! We climbed bear style on all fours up rocky cliff-sides, maneuvered piles of loose rocks, and avoided slipping and sliding to our deaths on the steep mountainside, all while being so exhausted we weren't totally sure our legs would continue to hold up the rest of our bodies. I managed to avoid altitude sickness (we climbed up to 3776 meters/12,388ft), although Corey was a bit affected by it and had to power through. There were times when we almost decided to say "screw it" and head back down, but something somewhere deep down inside made us keep going. We were so utterly, deeply exhausted to our very bones by the time we got to the summit that we hardly even enjoyed the accomplishment at the time (not to mention, there was no rewarding view to speak of thanks to the fog). It took literally everything we had to make it up there, and dread set in when we realized we still had to make it back DOWN the darn thing. Crap.

Again, we put one foot in front of the other and managed to get down. My knees gave out on me halfway through, and it was all I could do to keep myself together for the last couple hours, but we made it. I'm still not quite sure how, but we did. 

In total, about half of our tour group of 50 or so people made it to the top. NOBODY was happy when we got back to the bus. It was a seriously rough day, producing dozens of half-dead people by the end of it.

All that being said, we freaking climbed to the top of Mt. Fuji! We did it! As awful as the actual event was, we'll always have the memories and the pride of knowing that we were able to do it. 

Just don't ask us to do it again. 'Cause we won't.  :)
Us at the summit of Mt. Fuji!

7 comments:

Eric said...

So Mt Shasta next year?! I'll go with you!

Eric said...

Awesome by the way! I wish I was there!!

margery said...

Wow, what an achievement! Your pictures make it look a lot like South Sister when Eric and I hiked it in Oregon a few years ago (although it's not as high as Fuji). I think your survival mindset works well for hiking and other things too... swimming laps, long distance running, labor/childbirth... lots of things that are not necessarily precisely 'fun' but rewarding. Congratulations on making it. You two ROCK!!

StumpyG said...

Give me a few weeks to get over my "mountains are evil" phase as my muscles and feet heal. Then we can talk Shasta (which actually still sounds like a fun idea that we really have to do someday)!

Peter and Stephanie said...

wow...looks like there is no way a prego lady could do this. Bummer!! It looks like a great way to burn off 20 lbs really quick! lol

I'm just going to live vicariously through you....

and congrats on the amazing accomplishment! You are so worldly now =)

Stefanie K. said...

You're such a stud!

Michelle said...

That is amazing!!!!