Friday, August 31, 2007

Climbing Mt. Fuji: The Summit

-Strange Pilgrims
-Lights Above
-Into Sleep
-The Summit
-The Descent

When I arrived at the top of Japan's most sacred mountain, words aren't adequate for all of my feelings. I was relieved to be finished with the uphill portion of the trip. I was disappointed that the entire mountain--including the top--was blanketed in wet clouds blocking the view. I was exhaustedly, hungry and broke. When I arrived at the top, it had been 11 hours since I left station 5 the previous night.

The summit looked to me like some old west down--like something out of Deadwood. There was a wet, gravel road that ran through the middle of the encampment. After the shine at the top of the trail, the buildings looked makeshift and were made of wood and sheet metal. These buildings were like the huts that lined the trail below, but they were open to the air. Instead of doors and windows, the entire outer wall was open to allow people to freely come and go.

I decided to get some food since hadn't eaten for fourteen hours or so. I entered one of these rest/food buildings and collapsed. I had 600 yen, which is around $5. That was enough to buy a bowl of rice. As I began to eat the plain white rice, I began to feel sick--not a good sign when you are up at 12,000 ft. I forced myself to eat half of the bowl and begin the trip down.

Despite being at the top of this great mountain, at the peak of the accomplishment, I have to admit, my feelings were dampened a bit by the fact that the clouds kept me from seeing any view--or more than twenty yards in front of me.

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