The Mountain

So my 1st period class was canceled, of course nobody told me this, which means that my 2nd period class is also canceled, and again finding myself with lots of time, I thought I'd relay my experience a few years ago of climbing Mt. Fuji.

3 years ago I came to Japan for the hell of it. I was lucky enough to be awarded a scholarship and 6 weeks in Japan sounded like a pretty nice way to spend the summer, so I came, with no previous experience to live with a lovely family in Kyoto and study at a school there with about 20 other students from my school.

This particular program was both a language and culture program, so every day when class was finished at about noon, we went to a temple, or castle or shrine or whatever and on the weekends took trips all over the country. One weekend about 14 of us decided to go climb Mt. Fuji.

Now I didn't know anything about climbing Mt. Fuji. Nobody told me you climb at night, noone mentioned how cold it gets, there was no recommended clothing or equipment or anything, so I packed what I thought was a decent amount of gear: A fleece pullover, rain jacket, couple of extra T-shirts and a candy bar or two, my hiking boots and army fatigues and bam, lets go climb the mountain. Now at the time I had been training to head off to Airborne school upon return from Japan and was in pretty good shape, so I wasn't too worried about getting to the top, at least not at first.

So after a long shinkansen from Kyoto and a final stop at McDonald's we were ready to head off. Incidentily my father had phoned me while we were at McD's and asked about the weather, I said it seemed fine, but a little cloudy, nothing to worry about. "Are you sure", he asked "Looks like a typhoon is heading your way from here." Now since my dad is a guy that watches the weather channel a lot and often tends to get a little crazy about weather and all that, I didn't give the warning much of a thought. "Oh I'm sure they wouldn't take us up the mountain with a typhoon coming in", I tried to reassure him. (Did I mention earlier not to underestimate the Japanese?)

We boarded the bus up to station 5 and started getting mentally prepared for the climb. About an hour of a painstakingly slow bus ride and we arrived at the station. Now at this point the weather is pretty warm, it's mid-July, a bit humid and thoughts of minus 20 degree weather seems far from consideration. So donning a thin T-Shirt and putting the rest of my equipment in my bag, I bought a walking stick (which gets marked at every station on the way up) and headed off with the group. We weren't in any rush, content to be climbing the highest mountain in Japan and in rather good spirits but my competitive side kept me going at a pretty brisk pace, not wanting to lose to the younger guys.

Around an hour after our departure up the mountain, it began to rain a little. It was a welcomed event however, because the weather was still pretty warm and I was working up a decent sweat. Instead of putting on my raincoat, I decided to just soak up the rain and cool off, a mistake I would later pay for severely.


(okay I'll stop here for now, might actually have class....gotta run)