Monday, July 28, 2014

Climbing Fuji San

The second ascent of Fuji was long and grand. I climbed Fuji san my first summer in Japan, two years ago. The all night hike messed me up pretty good, just days prior to my Dad's business trip arrival in Tokyo, Japan. When I informed my Dad of my second Fuji plans he just asked in his signature, sinister wise Tom Hinds, intonation, "Why?" 

"Because it was still there, I guess." I didn't really didn't have a quality answer.

The second adventure turned out to be grand. I was in Tokyo for a teacher's trip and from there met our group of a couple dozen, made up of a few English teacher friends, a handful of Ibaraki Christian University students and lead by Patrick Stephens a professor of IC, at 4:00 pm. From there, we took a 2 hour bus to Mount Fuji and began the hike at 9:00 pm to make the ascent by sunrise at 4:41.

The friends, old and new, made Fuji fun. You meet the coolest, kindest people on the mountain. I met three sisters from Nagano just before departing, but left for the safer confounds of our group, when they actually thought my Japanese was good. I met another Japanese girl who had studied at Portland State for a year, and another young guy wearing flip flops, a tank top and anchored with a long beard, who looked like he could be from Portland, but turned out to be New Zealand. And I met some terrific people in our group.

Usually, my competitive side kicks in and I want to go as fast as possible, but this time, I wanted to just enjoy the people and the moment. I hiked up with English teachers Cameron Sutherland, Taryn Parker and Daniel Wheat. We went up at a slow, patient pace. It was great getting to know them better.

I ended up leaving the group, scampering to the top just in time to see the majestic sunrise:


I ended up leaving the group, scampering to the top just in time to see the majestic sunrise:
The descent was tough; the steep switch back volcanic ash and rock constantly jammed my toes into the front of my shoes. The 7 am sun penetrated like the middle of the afternoon and the sleepless night compounded it all into a slugfest. 

But the people made the beauty of it all come alive. I hiked down with four IC college girls who had never hiked anything before. After hiking up all night, they didn't complain at all during the descent and as English majors their English was really impressive (making their lack of complaints even more impressive). We slowly descended and made the most of it. 
I was at peace to be an encouraging older brother, for both the ascent and descent of the hike. In Japanese older brother is Oniisan. It was nice to play the role of Oniisan. Maybe it took me not being in relatively good shape to not look at Fuji in a competitive manner but rather an opportunity to encourage those I was with. 

Indeed, the majesty of Fuji San came alive amidst the beauty of the relationships formed.

***
Pictures are below, assume the good ones were taken by Daniel Wheat. Our group of AET's have immense creative talent. I should have taken more time to make this blog post better but tomorrow morning I'm off to Perth, Australia to see my Brother and Laura!









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