Dad and I scaled Mount Fuji in July.
This is our first father-daughter trip. And nearly our last. No, no close deaths, even though it may have felt like it many many many times. I’ve been looking for a climbing partner to join me on Fuji when Dad came to mind. He was already in Asia for business and was going back to the States, transiting through Tokyo the weekend I mean to climb. I shot him an email invitation, and regretted immediately after I sent it. You see, Dad has back problems that resulted with a surgery several years ago. While he is hale and hearty, he lost a lot of range of motion and will forever have weak balance.
With all that in mind, I opted for the most commonly used route, the Yoshida Trail. We stayed near the bus station in Tokyo, allowing for a direct commute to the Fifth Station.
The climb was as barren as it was dull. The bloudery climb between Stations 6 and 7 was green, lush, and beautiful, albeit treacherous for Dad. The huts were adorable, perched almost precariously on the rocks. The huts were largely a single common space with a couple of rooms used by the people working there during the peak season. Somewhere near the entrance or in the middle of the common room would be a fire pit where they kept the irons for stamping our sticks. The climb to the top, though, was otherwise rocky and bare, with nothing to keep us visually stimulated. Fuji is beautiful to look at from afar, but not the least bit up close.
Oh yea, I definitely collected my stamps. 200 yen, each costs me. Some huts offered more than one at a discount. I asked for ALL of them. No way I’m climbing Mount Fuji without collecting my stamps on the walking stick. The stick itself is nothing special, a long piece of pine wood cut as an octagon when looking down at it. It certainly doesn’t really function as a good walking stick, just a really long souvenir.
Dad’s challenge ended up being something completely different. Dad struggled majestically with altitude sickness. We slowed to a crawl, literally. Stopping every ten to twenty minutes for Dad to catch his breath. I found myself watching him closely for blue lips. And debating ever since stop whether or not to turn back.
Somehow, despite our own lack of expectations, we both made it to the top and back down. We missed the sunrise. Well, we would have since we were late. But seeing that there was no sun that morning, we didn’t miss it. The view of the surrounding lakes, though, was beautiful, more so than the mountain we were actually standing on.