Liz and I started our adventure stressing out because our third amigo decided to oversleep, luckily Liz was able to get ahold of him and he made the bus ride by a hair. On the drive up there we started to talk to the people around us who were also on our ship and slowly our group of three tuned into nine! At first we visited a shrine at the bottom of the mountain which was beautiful and quiet, we walked around took some pictures and headed back on the bus towards the "5th station". The 5th station is the biggest station up the mountain, it's where you buy your walking stick and grab any last minuet items you may have forgotten. By the time we started the climb the sun was shining and it was a gorgeous day!
At the shrine:
We would catch a few Z's at station 8, which is our halfway mark. We took our time getting up the mountain and messed around taking pictures, eating, relaxing and most importantly enjoying the scenery around us.
Enjoying the mountain:
At every station up the mountain you receive a stamp on your stick to prove how far up the mountain you made it. it was so intriguing to watch these guys stamp our sticks and make small talk about how long they've been doing this and how they live on the mountain for the summer and rarely sleep during this time because climbers come at all times of the day and night.
Getting my walking stick stamped:
By the time we hit station 8 we were exhausted beyond belief! We slept in this "hotel" which consisted of an empty room with sleeping bags lined up nearly on top of each other, but by the time you put your head down you were out for the count in seconds (well at least I was). It was around 0200 when we got our wake up call to start our climb to the summit.
Our luxurious "hotel":
As most of you know I've spent most of my adulthood in Texas where it may have a week or two of "cold" weather so before I explain what I was wearing remember I haven't dealt with cold weather in years. Liz and I wake up around 0200 and the guide told us it was extra cold out, we both looked at each other half asleep and did a little shoulder shrug, how cold could it be? Well, turns out it was the coldest weather I've ever been in and that's not an understatement. I had a tank top, long sleeve shirt, 2 zip-up fleeces, and my North Face shell along with 2 pairs of socks, leggings and wind-pants... Looking back we really didn't do enough research because if we did we would have read how cold the mountain is at night. And we're off with the guys to the summit! About an hour into it our bodies aren't as numb anymore and I can finally feel my fingers again, my feet, not so much. There was a HUGE line towards the top where the breathing gets extremely challenging so it forced you to slow your pace a little bit. We reached the summit around 0430 and had to wait a little over an hour for the sunrise... I thought it was cold halfway up the mountain where there was little wind and now at the top where wind was coming from every direction and the temperature was -5, I honestly think my feet were frozen. We sat and waited for the sun trying so hard to make each other laugh and have the time pass by quickly, but we failed miserably all we could focus on was how cold it was!
0520 hits and the sky starts to light up colors I've never seen before the most clear of all nights. We had thousands of stars above us and the brightest sun rise starting to hover around the skyline. When the sun finally came up we were all mesmerized by it's beauty and forgot for a split second how cold we were. After taking some photos we started our descend down the mountain in hopes we would be able to feel our bodies again! It took about 45mins to an hour for my body to feel somewhat normal and then another 2 hours for feeling in my feet to come back. We basically ran down the mountain to where it became warm again and then took our time back to the 5th station. When we got to the 5th station it was hot and sunny again so of course we had to celebrate with some ice cream! Shortly after we made it back to the bus and within minutes our group was passed out and ready to wake up back in Yokosuka.
The sun is finally up!:
I encourage everyone to climb the mountain at least once because it really will be one of the best experiences of your life. After doing the overnight trip we all said how we would never climb up it again, but I wouldn't mind trying to race up and see how fast I can get to the top in a day trip... Maybe during this years deployment break I'll conquer that task, but this time I will prepare for the cold! ;)