We started the hike at about 9:30 at night. It was a constant uphill struggle, at times the trail felt as though it were going straight up. The wind whipped around us and knocked out our knees with intense buffeting. There were moments when I feared it would rip me off of the mountain. On a particularly rough assault I would jam my walking stick into the ground and hang on for dear life. In the dark the mountain loomed above me stretching far into the sky. In my wildest dreams I never thought I would be climbing Mt. Fuji. From the moment I stepped out of the airport in Japan and my eyes fell upon that mountain for the first time, it had beckoned to me.
There were stations to stop at while we hiked and usually during the summer season they are open and you can get your walking staff stamped, but we were in the off season and passed by the solemn empty shacks, shuttered tight against the wind. As the night wore on and we slowly ascended the mountain we passed no other hikers; we were the sole trespassers on this majestic beauty. The goal was to reach the top by sunrise and watch the sun awake while sitting on top of the world.
The higher we hiked the harder the wind blew and soon my staff was not keeping me as fast on the trail. My companions would hang onto my coat to keep me from blowing away. (I do not believe I would have such a predicament now, I was such a lightweight then! hee hee). It was 2:30 in the morning when we hit the last station before the top of the mountain. By now I was exhausted, tired, and cold, having ascended from below sea level. We sat down for a rest and delved into our “lunch”. Upon opening my pop can my hand was shaking so bad that the liquid kept spilling out of the can. Waves of nausea threatened to overtake me completely. As David, my brother-in-law, looked at me with concern it was decided that I was suffering from altitude sickness (something I had never suffered before, but we decided with the extenuating circumstances it was not completely unusual) and should not continue up the mountain. I was devastated. I could see the top not even a full half mile ahead of us, but I had to agree that I was in no condition to continue. One of our companions not feeling to great either decided to stay behind with me while David and the other fellow hiked to the top.
So I huddled down against the wind and waited for the sunrise. My own personal planetarium show displayed above me. It seemed the entire galaxy was alight and I could see the swirls and the myriads of stars winking at me. The air was cold and clear and clouds in dark shadow clothed the valley below us.
Slowly the horizon began to lighten, barely a soft glow. It was like a dimmer switch and God was slowly turning on the light. As the sun rose the display was spectacular the hills and clouds below us thrown into brilliance and shadow, and a small orange ball appearing on the horizon. Wrapped in silence and splendor as the world awoke, beholding God’s art, the images locked in my heart forever. There are moments and visions beyond description and words but must only be felt and seen with the heart.
(this picture is off a postcard because my camera couldn’t do it justice, it is exactly what I saw however)
On my down the mountain in full daylight I gathered some of the lava stone. I still have my Fuji rock.
David later told me I never would have made it all the way to the top. The wind was so strong he was afraid they would be blown off the mountain and he was experiencing some altitude sickness by the time he got to the top. I still say I have climbed Mt. Fuji even though that last half a mile eluded me.
(also a postcard. The mountain spends much of it’s time shrouded in cloud and while I got many good looks at the mountain, again my camera couldn’t capture the majesty, so I rely on this postcard instead)