The Mountain part 2

So as I suspected, 2nd period was canceled too..... anyways, back to the story.

For those of you that have climbed Mt. Fuji, you know it is a majestic place. As you climb, the views presented of the surrounding lakes and forests are absolutley breath-taking, some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen. The rain had pretty much stopped, and a bit of light was coming threw the clouds creating the longest, most perfect rainbow I've ever seen. Stretching across the entire sky and disappearing into the forests. We all decided to take a break for a moment to take in the beauty and snap some photos. I've taken photos all over this country and I can't think of any that turned out more beautiful then those.

Things seemed to be going pretty well, a slight wind was beginning to pick up and my wet T-Shirt only served to amplify the chill, so I donned my raincoat and continued up the mountain.

The sun was getting lower and so were the temperatures. By now it was about 15C, and the wind was about 20mph with gusts in the 30s. Not overwhelmingly cold, but I was beginning to wish I hadn't allowed all my clothes to get quite so wet. We were still pretty much in the same group we had started with and everyone seemed to be getting along fairly well, although one of the girls had started to slow down and act rather tired. We made it to the 6th station without incident and took a few more photos. (There actually almost WAS an incident which could've gone very badly, but luckily my friend caught his footing at the last second and DIDN'T fall off the cliff we were taking photos by)

On the way to stage 8 we started to get separated. The wind was getting considerably stronger, the sunlight weaker and some had begun to get headaches and complain. Not wanting to get caught in the dark, I headed on separating myself from the group, but still about 200 yards behind the lead man who was making good time. Now the only gloves I had were the white cotton kind that you might find as liners in REAL gloves, not insulated and definitely offering very little warmth or protection. My mother's words running through my head "Plan for the worst and hope for the best" yeah ,yeah...I can take it.

The thing about Mt. Fuji that some find a bit off-putting is the grave sites. The graves of people that came before you and didn't quite make it. The path is littered with these graves, serving as a constant reminder of how dangerous this mountain, that is only open two months a year for climbing, really can be. Undeterred, I pushed forward, now finding myself alone, not just separated from MY group, but utterly alone, not another person in sight.

Now I'm starting to feel a variety of emotions. I'm wet, cold, somewhat lost, hungry, tired, rather angry that no one prepared us for what this mountain would entail and starting to really wonder what the hell I'm doing on this stupid volcano anyways. Nice vacation. It was at about this time that I began seeing warning signs. "Beware falling rocks" Oh gre-----at, how do you do that exactly? I mean what are you gonna do if rocks start falling, you can't go anywhere, but I figured...ah well, I've seen signs like that before and have never seen any rocks, probably nothing to worry about.....sure, Josh.

Then came the rocks. This are not pebbles mind you, as is to be expected on a volcano, nor are they golf ball or even baseball sized rocks, while those sizes would have been rather annoying and perhaps dangerous if hit in the head, they were NOTHING compared to what came flying at me. Rocks the sizes of various melons from canteloupe to watermelon came flying past me, and not just one or two mind you, but DOZENS in rapid succession. So here I am freezing, wet, tired, angry, alone, without a flashlight, on the side of the largest mountain in Japan, with no one around but graves and warning signs, the sun is almost down and there are melon sized junks of lava flying at me from hundreds of feet above. What else could I do but go crazy?

Realizing that there was a very real possibility that I was doomed to be either severely injured or killed in the next few moments and not really knowing what else to do, I decided the best thing I could do was fight back. Hahaha...oh well. How does one fight a mountain you might ask? Well I decided to fight fire with fire. I began picking up the largest rocks I could find and started throwing them BACK UP the mountain. I was a tiger I tell you. Pure rage and hatred, mixed with a lack of oxygen and whammo, I'm fighting the mounain.

"Fuck you Mt. Fuji, you fucking piece a shit!! Is that all you got motherfucker? I shit rocks bigger than this! (whizz rock flies by my head) Hahahahaahahaaaaaaaaa motherfucker, ya missed me! Take that (throw rock) Yeah how do you like it ya son of a bitch, you think I'm going out like this?!?!?! Fuck this goddman mountain! Fuck people climbing at night! Fuck typhoons! Fu------------------ck!!!!!!!!!" and so it was that for the first time in my life I accepted the inevitably of death and rose to face it head on. If I was going out, fine, but I wasn't going out without a fight. For wahatever reason, after a few moments, the rocks seemed to be falling less rapidly and I decided to make a break for it and move out continuing up the trail, praying to get to the next station before frostbite and delirium set in.

I say "Continuing up the trail" but understand that this doesn't mean I was continuing at the pace or in the same spirits by which I had reached that point. The sun now down, I could see nothing, the typhoon had started top really lash the mountain and winds in the uppr 40s and 50s were lashing me about, the rain compromised my footing on any number of occassions, and pure luck kept me from falling on more than one occassion. Luck and brand new New Balance hiking shoes to which I owe my life. Now you have to understand what it's like to try to climb a mountian in the dark under even excellent conditions. Without a flashlight, it is VERY VERY hard. In a typhoon it's damn near impossible. Soemhow after another couple hours of inch by precious inch walking, I made it to the next station and decided to put in for a few hours rest.

Luckily the lead guy had stopped there as well, so we enjoyed a bowl of 1500yen cup ramen and tried to dry off our clothes a bit. It was now about 1130pm, we needed to get up by 3am to climb to the top for sunrise, so we made quick work of getting to bed, but despite the exhaustion I wasn't ableto get much sleep.

3am: Time to go!! We actually overslept a little an were in serious danger of not gettting to the top in time. I figured we could double time it up to the top and hopefully just mmke it, but upon leaving the station I was more than surpised to see that what had been a desolate landscape, was now covered in yellow rainsuit clad Japanese climbers, numbering in the hundreds, already on the mountain. The one advantage was they all had flashlights, providing at least some amount of visibility, but with the wind and rain, the advantage was minimal, especially now that I had to actually PASS these people to get to the top in time and the trail is only wide enough for one at a time. Fancy footwork allowed me to start making some ground, but it was anybody's guess if we'd make it to the top in time...

I'll continue this later...gotta run