Monday, August 13, 2007

Never. Ever. Never.

As this is one of my favorite entries (this one was a close second!) I decided to link it up with Tip Junkie's Talk to Me Tuesdays! Read other blogger's favorite posts here!

On the bus on my way to Mount Fuji, I thought I would title this blog entry "Fuji-licious". But then, I started the climb, and the words that stuck with me the entire way up were, "Never, never, NEVER again will I ever do this, ever in my whole entire life"! Anyone who says "never say never" obviously hasn't climbed Mt. Fuji... and if you haven't, take my advice, NEVER do it!

It was not fun. It was not easy. It was an experience, and I'm glad I can always say that I did it. Although, next time I want to do something just so I can say I did it, I'll just say I did it. It was miserable, exhausting, and for the majority of the time, downright frightening. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

If you're ever considering doing something that requires you to meet up for a 2.5 hour bus ride at 2:30 a.m., reconsider. We took the bus from our hotel to Mount Fuji station 5 (this is where "everybody" begins the climb) and arrived there about 5 a.m. We bought our Mt. Fuji walking stick (just one... it ended up costing about 4000 Yen --a little under $40 bucks-- by the time the trip was over, plus most of the time I didn't want to carry it anyway) and started what I now refer to the worst 12 hours and 13 minutes of my life at 5:15.

(0500-at station 5)

It started out like a walk in the park, literally...there were trees, gravel paths; it was lovely, really lovely. I made the mistake of thinking "this isn't bad at all" and continuing on.

(0523-8 minutes into our trek)
Before we got our first "stamp" which was really a brand on our walking stick, the path started getting steeper. We made it to station 7 for the first brand by about 6:30 or maybe earlier. There were quite a few station 7s--I guess they were like station 7, station 7 and a quarter, station 7 and a half, station 7 and 3 quarters, station 7 and 7 eighths, etc. before actually reaching station 8. Station 8 was a big deal to reach... we were told to turn around if we hadn't reached Station 8 by 1:30. We got there by 8 a.m. or so and figured we were doing awesome. Little did we know that there were 4 more station 8s and the terrain leading to the one we needed to be focused on was super rocky.

(0630-our first "stamp")

(0730-already at 3,000 meters...only a little more than 7 hundred to go. Let me tell you, 700 meters up a mountain cannot be compared to "not even 2 laps around an outdoor track" no matter how hard you want to believe it. 3000 meters is almost 2 miles.)

(0750-our 2nd stamp)
I hated every moment of the climb, especially the rocky parts, which was the majority of it. I practically crawled up the whole thing because I was so afraid not to hold onto the rocks. Several times, I tried to envision what I would look like if I slipped and scraped my face on the huge rocks I was climbing up. I moved pretty quickly on the steep uphills, but lost a whole lot of time on those rocks... I try to be very deliberate about the placement of my feet, especially when I'm on the side of a 12,000 foot high mountain with rocky terrain. I was definitely more exhausted mentally than physically. I kept on saying I was a nervous wreck (I get that from my grandma, I guess). We don't have any pictures from that portion of the journey because I was basically too terrified to let go of the mountain long enough to get the camera out of David's bag! At one point, we had to travel across a ledge along the side of one of the stations and I nearly had a nervous breakdown... I do NOT like heights (so why on earth would I desire to climb this mountain????) I had tears in my eyes but realized that if I turned around I wouldn't be able to go down "the easy way"...more on that in a few minutes. So I just held onto anything I could and inched my way across the ledge.

(0913-by this time, we were above the clouds... I noted that I usually only like to be above clouds when I am in an airplane---with my safety belt on!)
As we got closer to the top, we took more and more little stop and rest breaks. The terrain kept getting worse and the hill kept getting steeper, and somehow even though I knew that with every single step I was getting closer to the top, it kept seeming further and further away! The air was getting thinner and David's backpack (he carried the gear for both of us!) I'm sure kept feeling heavier and heavier.

(1205-the view from the summit)

(1215-dirty hands, stamped stick, stressed-out climber!)
It ended up taking us 6 hours and 50 minutes to get to the summit. And I was okay with that (I had lost my competitive edge hours ago) Once we got up there, we sat and waited a while for friends we met on the tour, Cynthia and Pinky, to meet up with us. Then we all had a photo shoot/picnic/nap for about 2 hours before heading back down. That was, by far, the most enjoyable part of the day!
There's a huge crater up there that everyone was raving about. I stood near it long enough for a photo, but had visions of myself being knocked over by a gust of wind and tumbling down.

(1250-David and I at the crater...the photo does not do it justice!)
Coming down the mountain was absolutely horrifying. I really wonder why on earth I decided to climb Mount Fuji! I know that I'm afraid of heights (or moreso of the idea of falling from them).

(1425-the people behind us as we began our descent)
Anyway, I was terrified because there were no fences, lots of slippery rock, and steep declines. I was traveling, oh...about 2 feet per hour when David decided it would be in our best interest to hold my hand all the way down. We wonder if we're the only couple to hold hands the entire way down the mountain. We also had to switch sides on every switchback so he'd be on the outside. If we hadn't, I still might be slowly inching my way down! We had so many rocks in our shoes it was nearly unbearable.

(1430-still headed down the mountain with Cynthia and Pinky)
And, to prove that mountain climbing and high altitudes make you absolutely delirious, when we were heading back to station 5, we had to go back UPhill...and were glad about it!

(1713-so close to the finish!)

(1728-We did it...and we'll NEVER do it again!)
I have never been more dirty in my entire life. I had a dirt moustache, dirty spots on my cheeks, dark legs, grey hair, the lines in my palms were completely black, and when I took off my socks, there was dirt caked around my toenails. Since I think I've already surpassed the "12" for this "12 of 12", I'll go ahead and add 2 more of my dirty face after the climb, and one of my dirty washcloth after my shower (after midnight since we had to wait 2 hours after the bus was supposed to leave since some ladies were too slow but we all --well, almost all of us-- felt too bad to leave them)

(1745-covered in dirt!)

(0030- can you tell which washcloth I used?)

Gosh, this all sounds so incredibly negative, doesn't it? I just wanted to be brutally honest, because I know in a few days my calves will no longer be sore and I'll gaze lovingly at my Mt. Fuji walking stick and think "gee, that was really great". I want to be able to look back at this blog entry and think "we EARNED that walking stick!" Really, it was horrible, it was a long day and definitely one of the most difficult things (especially mentally!) that I've ever done. But it was beautiful and when I finished I really did feel like I accomplished something big. I'm sure I'll be looking back at this experience in the (distant?) future and feel proud and really glad that I didn't miss this opportunity!

(Fuji from the plane... yeah, we climbed that!)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

12,395 feet, here I come!

I woke up at 6:15 this morning--even though school doesn't start for 19 days so it's possible to take advantage of sleep-in time. I woke up to run, but then just didn't feel like it. I'm justifying it by saying that in a few short days, I'm going to be climbing up Mount Fuji! So I'm just going to say that I'm resting up.
I don't know what to expect from old Fuji. The tour guide made it look like we'd be hanging vertically from the mountain face, but a few of my friends have done it before, and they said that's a scare tactic. Sometimes we'll be "bouldering", climbing/crawling over big rocks and stuff, but nothing I need a harness & some caribiners for.
They also told me it took them about 7 hours to climb. What??? 7 hours? Of walking? Oh boy... I was thinking maybe 3 hours. 4 if I stop to take a lot of pictures... but 7? And that's just one way... they said it'll be about 2 hours to come down. Why does it take 5 more hours to go up than down? I'm hoping it will not take us 7 hours. We're going to be careful, yet swift. Enjoy the scenery and experience, but waste no time. And, of course, I want to be the FIRST ones from our tour group to finish. And if I have to push David on the ground to cross the finish line first, I will... trample the weak, hurdle the dead you know. I'm usually very nice... sometimes it's just that this little competitive streak comes out.
The frugal part of me didn't want to buy one of the Mount Fuji walking sticks (what in the world am I going to do with a walking's too darn big for my scrapbook!)but I've been peer-pressured into it. Apparently, it is THE thing to get when you climb Mount Fuji and if you don't get one, you may as well not have climbed, because nobody is going to believe you. I wonder if I could find one cheaper on e-bay. Anyway, I decided that we'll get one...and share it. No need to display two. And, I'll probably make David carry it, along with everything else. I did get this cute little CamelBak um...fanny pack. I opted for the fanny pack instead of the backpack mainly on the advice of my old friend Paul the Adventurer who said that running in the backpack kind would turn out to be uncomfortable. And since I run more than I hike, I figured I may get more than one use out of the fanny-pack style. Maybe. You wouldn't believe how long it took me to reach that decision, because the backpack was so darn cute and would hold stuff, you know? Gosh, maybe I should've gotten the backpack one. Especially because, now that I think of it, how am I going to tie my sweatshirt around my waist when I have a fanny pack on? (and it's the "American fanny" not the British I'd look like one of those old fashioned ladies with a big ol' bustle on my American fanny if I tie my sweatshirt over it. But it's Mount Fuji, not a Milan runway, right, so who cares?

I do. But only a little bit, and I'm trying not to.

Because we do not believe that torture should be the only part of a vacation, we're also going to go to one of the happiest places on earth, Tokyo DisneySea. It's not a waterpark, it's DisneySea, as opposed to DisneyLand or DisneyWorld. There's a DisneyLand in Tokyo too, but I hear DisneySea is better. I can't wait! It will be David's first time at a Disney park and I haven't been to one for 16 years either.

I'm so excited and ready to go on this little trip! Well, not exactly ready, because I haven't packed my suitcase yet, or even unpacked it all the way from our trip back here for that matter. But mentally, I'm ready! I'm especially excited because we climb Fuji on the 12th...and what an awesome 12 of 12 that will make! (I know I've been a bit of a 12 of 12 slacker for June & July, but August is going to make up for it!) I hope.
So...sayonara! I'll be back with an update on Tuesday!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Da Region

I took this quiz (because I have nothing better to do...only a lot of laundry) to see how Hoosier I am.
You are 75% Hoosier!

Be proud of your Hoosier heritage! And learn a little more about your state. Tulip trees and cardinals are just the beginning.

How Hoosier are you?
Create a Quiz

Not a bad score, but I do need to admit that I guessed on quite a few of the answers. I only knew 8/25 questions for sure (and two of those were- what is your gender? and what age group do you fall in?)

Those of us in Northwest Indiana always feel like we're not really part of our state. We have Chicago tv and radio stations, most of us like the Bears & Bulls rather than the Colts & Pacers, we're not even on the same time zone as the rest of our state for much of the year. So to see if there's any hard evidence that we identify more with a suburb of Chicago than a part of Indiana, I took the quiz below. I didn't have to think nearly as much as I did on the Indiana quiz. The only question that gave me a little hesitation was "Comiskey Park is..." I could hardly bring myself to select the answer that said "now known as U.S. Cellular Field"... I won't call it that!

You're 100% Chicagoean!

You're the tour guide! You know this city so well you could be booking vacation packages for tourists. From parties, hotels, bars, to know the ins and outs...even the 3am burrito stops. And more than likely you're not going anywhere since you love this city so much!

Are you a true Chicagoean?
Quizzes for MySpace

Friday, August 03, 2007


What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Northeast
The Midland
The South
North Central
The West
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

That's not true... I do NOT have an accent... I'm from the Midwest, and we don't have accents in the Midwest. I admit that certain words DO tend to bring out the Wisconsin in me (nobody could practically live there for 5 years and not come "oat" of that state saying "bague" and "flague"!) and maybe I did spend the majority of my life calling carbonated beverages "pop" (but was reprimanded by some Wisconsin natives telling me to get to know my beverage on a first name basis- now I switch back and forth) and yes, I recall when I went down to Terre Haute IN (now, talk "aboat" and accent!) and all the other girls at Hoosier Girls' State got such a kick out of how I said words like "Chicago" and "ravioli"... and someone once told me & my Kentucky husband how holding a conversation with both of us was like going on a road trip through central U.S. And of course people often ask me if I'm from Wisconsin...and if I'm from Chicago... but I think that's just because I really like cheese, brats, Italian beef & hot dogs without ketchup. It's certainly NOT because I have an accent!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The best thing about August

is that my neighbors are MOVING! Hip hip, Hooray! No more loud, drunk people laughing outside my window when I am trying to get some sleep before a 15, 18, 20 or 26.2 mile run. No more of the strongest-ever fabric softener wafting out of their house and into our entryway. And, best of all, no more garbage left outside!!!! Yesterday at 10:00 am, a friend of mine rang the doorbell. It's bad enough that in our entryway there are 4 tires (belong to our upstairs neighbor), a motorcycle (belonging to our OTHER upstairs neighbor), but to top it off, our directly across the way neighbor has, ONCE AGAIN, left two bags of trash outside. And because the motorcycle is in the space where the trash bags used to sit for 4 days at a time, they decided that instead of walking the 15 feet to the trash cans, it would be way more convenient to just leave them against the wall to MY house, about 2 feet from my door. Lovely lovely neighbors. While I was outside talking to my friend, the guy walked past and went to his house. Shortly thereafter, once I was back inside, he walked past the garbage AGAIN and chose to leave it there. Surely, he and his wife have now walked past that garbage at least ten times. Yet, it still sits in front of my door. Well, actually, not anymore... I moved it. I moved it and put it right in front of THEIR door. Because no-more Miss Nice Guy, that's why. And guess what... I was upstairs talking to my friendly neighbor and he came & left for lunch break and I bet you know what I'm going to say next... he DID NOT take out the garbage! Aaaaaarrrrgggghhhhh!!!
Related Posts with Thumbnails