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    Posted November 11, 2014 by
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Extreme hikes

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    The old saying goes: A wise man will climb Mt Fuji once; a fool will climb Mt Fuji twice.

    My wife and I took a trip to Japan several years ago. I decided that if you are going to fly 16 hours and 7,000 miles to visit a place that has a giant iconic mountain, you hike that mountain. Mt. Fuji is 12,388' (3,776 m) and one of the most famous mountains in the world. Most people don't start at the bottom, but rather, at the 5th station, which is halfway up the mountain. The trail from there is several kilometers, all winding and steep.

    I did some research beforehand about preparing for the hike. Many recommended staying overnight at one of the huts, but we decided to try to do it all in a day.

    First mistake.

    Second mistake? We got there later than we wanted. Japan is about a 14 hour time difference than EST. We decided to hike Fuji only a day or two after we arrived in Japan, so we were a little tired/jet lagged to begin with. As a result, slower to get places.

    We started the hike around noon. The hike up the mountain took us around 7 hours. We brought enough food for a normal hike, but did not take into account calories burned from such a strenuous trek. So, we ran out of our own food and overpaid for some ramen at one of the huts.

    We also brought water, but skimped on our camelback water carrier. So, that water tasted pretty much like a spare tire.

    As we made our way up, the air got colder and thinner. We did think to bring layers of clothes, but soon, we were needing to shed layers due to the exertion.

    We finally made it to the summit, exhausted (mentally and physically). We're both in pretty good shape, but it was still tough.

    The hike down was nearly as hard. You wouldn't think so, with gravity and all. But the path down was winding and covered in gravel. Thus, it was unstable. And when you descend, you use leg muscles you don't use on a normal, everyday basis. So, as we made our way down, our legs quivered and we took a few spills.

    4 hours later, we were at the bottom. We made our way back to the village. As we approached, we saw a bus leaving... the last bus back. Drained and still needing to retrieve our things from the lockers, we knew we were not going to make it.

    We spent a few hours trying to figure out a) how to off the mountain and b) how to get back to Tokyo, which is where we were supposed to be staying.

    The last train to Tokyo had already run. There was no lodging at the 5th station. Hiking back up to another station was not an option, as they only took cash and we were not going to make it anyway, especially not in the dark. Some helpful shop owners called some local hotels in the city of Fujinomiya and called a cab for us. Taxis in Japan are *very* expensive. The total trip down t he mountain (about 30 min) was about $200. Lesson learned.

    If I had to do it again, I would definitely hike Fuji and hopefully be better prepared. But only once. Because twice? Well...
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