Climbing Mount Fuji (Part II) / by Deborah Clague

I could barely lift the spoon to my mouth. Part of me marvelled that I was even given this utensil, as chopsticks were the norm during my travels. It was a pleasant surprise as I am completely inept at eating with the latter. The dinner, consisting of rice and beef curry, was delicious but I was too exhausted to enjoy it. After brief socialization, I excused myself and went straight to my sleeping bag to catch some zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz's. 

When I initially entered the mountain hut at the eighth station, I was kinda excited to see semi-private bunks. "This won't be so bad", I thought to myself. This was short-lived as I quickly realized that we would, in fact, be sleeping on the floor in a massive room with about 50 other people. I was situated between one of the remaining women from Singapore and the Alaskan. By the time they went to bed, I was already knocked out. 

I slept SOLIDLY for two hours before my bladder woke me up. I checked the time on my iPhone. It was only 11:05pm. We were scheduled to depart at 2:00am. I would really need those extra few hours of sleep for the next portion of the ascent but I could hear rustling, tossing and turning in the room and the reason behind it: some of the loudest, guttural snoring I have ever heard in my life. I tried to figure out who it was but it was so thunderous that it seemed to envelope the entire space. I put on my slippers and braved the cold to reach the solitude (and silence) of the washroom. 

Japanese toilets are legendary. They are so advanced, I wouldn't be surprised if there were models that can accurately predict remaining lifespan. Even on Mount Fuji, even at 3,100m above sea level, the toilets are awesome. You have to pay to use them (200 Yen) but when your body is starting to enter a deep-freeze, nothing feels better than to sit down on one of their warmed seats. This was an extensive topic of conversation and consensus amongst our group during the day. It was a really long hike. This, and occasional karaoke, provided much needed entertainment. 

While outside, I stopped to take in the scenery. Down below, I could see the mass of Tokyo glittering. It was a beautiful sight. This was the first time I felt I was doing something more momentous than a hike. I was pushing myself out of my element in a massive way. In a year of giving myself numerous distractions in avoidance (and denial) of depression following my father's death, this was a shift in outlook that I needed. I needed to keep evolving. This experience would bring me from relatively lazy connoisseur of Doritos to someone who truly feels like they can take on the world and conquer it. I now believe nothing less. 

Returning to the shared sleeping space, I noticed a lot of people were awake. The snoring was just too much. I climbed back into my sleeping bag and shut my eyes in an attempt to trick my body into dozing off. It didn't work. In time, I felt I could actually hear the subtle nuance as the exhalation reverberated through the perpetrator's individual nose hairs; a symphony of weird, bodily functions. 

"Fuckin' HELL!" I heard a British accent proclaim in frustration from across the room. 

"At least someone is sleeping", I thought to myself. "Tomorrow is going to be a loooonnnngggg day."

To be continued...