Goraiko – My last hurrah
Goraiko (ご来光) – literally, “The coming of the light”, it refers to the sunrise on top of Mt. Fuji, the highest point in Japan.
I knew this year I wanted to go out with a bang – which could only be accomplished by trekking up the mt. and catching a totally wild sunrise.
There’s a saying in Japan: “一度も登らない馬鹿、2度登る馬鹿” – “Only fools never climb it, or climb it more than once”. Which made me a fool, at least until I’d climbed the damn thing!
The plan I had laid out months ago with Mike had, over time, spawned into a massive gathering of 12 people from 3 prefectures. 6 of us set out from Mie in a rental Velfire (one hell of a ride!) and met up with another 6 from Yokohama/Tokyo at the base of the climb: Fuji 5th Station, Yoshida trail head. (see Mike’s blog for all the goodies!)
View of Fuji asserting it’s will from the 5th station.
Sweet rainbow on the left side.
The climb up was…tougher in some ways, and easier in others. We were treated to a pretty amazing sunset as we climbed up the first few hundred meters.
Lit up by the setting sun, wild clouds accentuate the colors.
The sky pretty much exploded for a few minutes.
Some interesting structures litter the path to the summit, and the shapes cast in the evening light were beautiful and slightly haunting.
Looks like it could be a huge fence…
These “steps” were some of my favorites.
A shot of Fuji City at twilight as the lights came on.
As I wanted to stay with Kanako, the methodical pace we set wasn’t that strenuous, but as the night wore on I realized I hadn’t slept in almost 24 hours. After about 2 hours of solid climbing the wind suddenly picked up, at times spraying us with dirt and dust until we choked and hid our eyes. After 4 hours we made it to the 8th station (roughly 3200 meters above sea level) and slept with the group as best we could for a few hours at a small hut. While I didn’t get much rest the hot food and drinks were lifesavers, even at inflated prices.
At about 2 AM we started the final trek up from the 9th station to the summit…along with everyone else who came to climb Fuji! Traffic jam, and a bad one at that. I was almost physically pulling Kanako up the mountain to keep her from falling asleep standing up! When we finally made it to the top both of us almost collapsed from sheer joy. We had about 30 minutes to spare before sunrise. We were then treated to…more wind! Ok, the real reason we went up Fuji: Goraiko!
Mike, Jake, Vishal and I camped out in a small little corner and huddled against the wind as we waited for the sun to peek out from behind the encroaching clouds. My s90 was a trooper all the way up and down. This little puppy can sure put out when it needs to!
Goraiko – 10 seconds prior.
Goraiko – Breaking the clouds
Goraiko – A new day is born!
Goraiko – Sunlight bathes the land below.
Goraiko – cold but happy! Mike snapped this shot as we were running to get inside, away from the wind, dust and cold.
The trek down was brutal, mentally and physically. No rest for 36 hours and sore legs from the climb up forced all of us to dig deep and trek on hour after hour. When I finally made it to the 5th station I thought I’d lost my legs halfway down the mountain! I was also covered in red and black dust from the silty and dusty trails, and sweaty and tired, but exalted to have accomplished such a feat.
In closing, thank you to everyone who came that made this trip so memorable for me. It may be the last great hurrah for me here, as I leave in just over a month’s time. I hope to meet you all again somewhere – take care, and safe travels! 😀
More next week from other final adventures here in Mie!