|Sengen Shrine - Beginning of Yoshida Trail|
|Red Pine Forest on the Lower Slopes of Mt. Fuji|
|The Trail Starts to Climb|
|3rd Station Ruins|
|2nd Station Ruins|
Once the shrine was found I went in search of the trailhead. After several attempts of making a walking motion with my fingers and saying Fuji-san to a number of sleepy eyed monks, I was directed to the trailhead. I was excited about the first part of the run given that few people now climb the mountain from the bottom. More than ninety-nine percent of Japanese climbers start at the fifth-station, mid way up the mountain (there are ten stations from the base to the top of the mountain). In particular, I was looking forward to seeing the abandoned stations where in the past travelers drank tea and rested.
My expectations were met. A trail to myself and interesting ruins to explore. The run from Sengen Shrine to the Kawaguchiko Fifth Station was exceptional.
As I reached the Fifth Station I moved into the clouds and into the billows of people descending from the summit. Most Japanese climb the mountain at night (resting/sleeping in the upper stations) with the goal to summit in time to watch the sunrise.
|The Roped Trail|
|The Last Kilometer to the Top|
|On the Summit|
I had originally planned to run around the rim of the crater before descending. However, the wind was screaming on top filling my eyes with volcanic dust making it hard and painful to see. Plus, I was cutting it close on time and felt anxious about catching my bus to Tokyo. I descended.
A few hundred feet below the summit the clouds rolled back making it hard to see and leaving me wet and a bit cold from all the moisture. I amused myself of as I modified the words to Twas a Night Before Christmas - “visions of Japanese baths danced through his head.” The thought of a long soak and getting the grit out of my eyes made the run down to the Fifth Station go fast.
|A Good Day at UTMB 2 Weeks Earlier|