Around Fuji

3/7/16. It was while checking directions on the way into Fuji (the city) on Friday afternoon that we caught our first sight of the mountain. It had been gloomy and cloudy all day but was starting to get a bit brighter and Christine looked up from the map – and there it was!

Jaw dropping! The conical shape. The summit poking through the clouds. So high. It dominates the skyline.

The city of Fuji was nothing to write home about. So I won’t!

The goal for Saturday night was one of a number of campsites by a couple of lakes to the north of the mountain (the city is to the south). Naively we assumed that going round to the west we would have a day with occasional ups and downs but overall pretty flat.

How wrong we were!

We just kept heading up and up. By the time we reached the highest point of the day it was past 5 o’clock and we had done just over 40 km. Stephen’s moving average was 9.1 kph. He cannot remember the last time he saw that sort of average speed over a sustained distance. We had climbed just over 1,000 metres (net) and the total descent shown was 20 metres.

Obviously it wasn’t terribly steep – 1,000 m over 40 km is an average of 2.5% – but it was just the sheer relentlessness of it combined with the uninspiring scenery. The first 30 or so km were through urban areas and, although we kept looking to our right hoping to see the mountain, the mist/fug kept it hidden from view.

At the top there was a viewpoint from which there are probably lovely views but (a) it was still misty and (b) it faced the “wrong” way – away from the mountain itself.

And then the descent started. It was wonderful. Not too steep. No tight bends. A quiet road through trees. The only drawback was that it “ruined” Stephen’s average speed – pushing it into double figures which rather spoils the story!

When we reached the main road the gloom lifted and we had our first sight of the mountain that day. And it was impressive! Towering above us, there was a wisp of cloud covering the summit and we could see a touch of snow in a couple of places. It is easy to see why the Japanese are so reverential.

It was heading towards 7 o’clock when we arrived at our destination, Lake Kawaguchiko, and started searching for the campsite that we had seen on Google Maps. It should have been easy to find being right at the end of a headland next to a bridge. We couldn’t find it for love or money!

As it was starting to get dark we decided to “bale” to a hotel and booked into a traditional ryokan close by. It has its own onsen (naturally heated bath) so we had a good soak to ease the tired legs before scoffing down the food we bought en route and falling into bed.

Sunday was a day for recovery – pill day for Christine so Stephen went for a ride on his own around the lake and another one nearby – 33 km of largely flat roads was a real antidote to the previous day’s slog fest.

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