Traversing the Sea to Summit Fujinomiya Trail to the Peak of Mt. Fuji Part 2
The path from the Omotefuji Green Camp site to the 6th station of the Fujinomiya trail up Mt. Fuji runs around a total of 11 kilometers. This portion of the trail takes hikers through the remainder of the road leading up to the toll gate that leads to the 5th station, through the forests of Mt. Fuji and past the Goten-niwa trail up and around Mt. Hoei. Depending on the weather, visibility can be dampered by the surrounding fog. Due to this, the route can take from four to six hours to complete, so plan accordingly.
The first section of the continuing trail will take you through the highways that line the base of Mt. Fuji. It is very important to make sure you are as visible as possible. If you are hiking in the evening or early morning, make sure to have a headlamp or flashlight out to signal your presence. As the highway is not common for pedestrians, most vehicles are known to go fast around corners. Make sure to take the outside of corners and to pay attention to traffic. Wearing headphones in this section is not recommended.
After an hour on the main road, you will reach the tollgate that leads up to the 5th station on Mt. Fuji. If you would rather avoid the forests of Mt. Fuji, you can opt to take the road all the way up to the 5th station. This may take longer as the road winds back and forth all the way up the mountain. If you choose to go through the forest instead, there are a few roadblocks here where you can rest and switch from your training shoes to hiking boots. It is highly advised to wear hiking boots throughout the remaining section to avoid any injuries, as the terrain is very uneven. Once you are ready, it’s time to head into the forest!
The trail through the forest starts out very even and easy to follow. There are plenty of sections where you have to go over logs and brush by a few plants and trees. If you have a hiking stick or pole, this is the best time to use it. Many of the spiders in the area tend to love making webs in the direct path of the trail, so sticking your pole out ahead of you may save you from some unpleasant situations.
As you go on throughout the trail, it will progressively become more difficult as you pass through creek beds, up a few hills, and through rocky terrain. The trail itself is not hiked often, so there are occasional places where you can lose sight of where to go. Luckily, the trailkeepers of Mt. Fuji place fluorescent tape on trees and branches within eyesight of each other, so if you feel like you are straying off the path, take a good look around for your next objective.
A couple hours through the trail, you will reach the Goten-niwa trail and start to pass around Mt. Hoei. This part of the trail changes a bit and becomes much more rocky. As a side note, make sure to bring bug repellant for this portion of the trail, as there are many mosquitos and insects along this path. From this point, it should only take an hour or two to reach the 6th station. If you are going through here at night, make sure to take the utmost care of watching your step. Some sections of the trail follow the ledges of the mountain and can lead to a very nasty fall if you are not careful.
Depending on the weather when you reach the top of Mt. Hoei, you might get a perfect opportunity to snap several pictures of Mt. Fuji and the valleys below, before continuing on to the 6th station. After a little while longer, you should reach the 6th station where you can take a break and relax. The 6th station offers many welcomed services on the mountain that include: a restaurant, supply store, and a place to rest the night.
Although it may not look very appetizing now, even their simple meals are a welcomed break from any health bars and snacks that you may have had along the way up the mountain. Prices at the 6th station are still relatively fair, starting at around 1,000 yen for this meal and 400-500 yen for plastic bottle drinks (500ml). If you are looking to spend the night at a hut, it is typically recommended to make a reservation in advance to secure a spot. There are several places online where you can make reservations, however as the Fujinomiya trail is not as popular as the Fuji Yoshida trail, there are usually never any issues with securing a place to stay. Costs start at about 6,000 yen and go up from there depending if you want dinner and/or breakfast.
Dinner will usually be served very early at around 5pm or 6pm, and huts usually close the restaurant and sleeping quarters at around 7pm as hikers wake up early (2am!) to resume their hike to the summit and reach the sunrise. After dinner, you will be escorted to the sleeping quarters which consists of a lot of very thinly spaced cots on a tatami floor with hooks to hang your hiking equipment in.
While not the most comfortable place to sleep in the world, it can make a world of difference, especially if the weather outside is bad. At the 6th station, the costs are a little more evenly spaced, but if you stay at any of the huts further up the mountain, expect to be placed literally side to side with other patrons. Space is a commodity on the mountain and you will have to be mindful of the people around you. Lights out usually happens at around 8am and the staff will start to wake people up at around 2am. Each hut has different rules in regards to this, so if you want to sleep in, please make sure to ask the staff if that will be ok.
Once you are rested up and have a decent breakfast in you, it’s time for the final leg of the trip to the summit of Mt. Fuji. Join us in our third and final installment in our next article.