Monday, October 1, 2018

Elusive Mt Fuji Part 4 Rush hour @1:30 AM



We got up next day morning at 1:30am and got ready to summit Mt. Fuji. The temperature outside was in single digits and very windy. So we had put on 3 layers - cotton T shirt, down jacket and windcheater, hand gloves, woolen cap and most importantly the head torch. Luckily we didn’t have to carry our sack.

We were excited that long cherished dream was going to be realised. 

Got ready to step out but I couldn’t come out of my dormitory because there was a big queue outside... a big human traffic jam towards the summit. At first, I couldn’t believe it. Guess One has to see it to believe it. The queue was at least a 1 km long and building up. The headlights made it easy for us to track the queue. There were twinkling stars in the sky and headlight formations along the route to climb up. 

When you have closely packed group moving forward slowly, its difficult to chat. Only sound in the air was footsteps and trekking pole. The footsteps on gravel-soil road sound like chap chap. When the trekking pole hits the ground it sounds like chuk and when you pick it up it brushes against the light gravel and makes the chyak.
Chuk Chap chap chyak
We were moving slowly along three lanes. Carefully watching our footsteps, trying not to slip. Careful not to touch each other. Carefully planting our trekking poles in empty spaces.
Chuk Chap chap chyak
Wind is blowing hard making some of us shiver. We are thankful that we are in group. Those in side lanes breaking the wind speed and provide the warmth to others. Slowly we are getting used to the warmth created by the group.
Chuk Chap chap chyak
This is not a city road so the width is not uniform, in some places its narrow and wider in others. Its breaking the monotony of the group. Three lanes are merging into two or even one, testing our patience. As soon as we hit wider sections we start running. Its mad rush to reach the top before sunrise and secure a good viewing spot.


Chuk Chap chap chyak
Some impatient folks look beyond the safety ropes and figure out that there is still some space to climb up safely. So they cross over and take the short cuts. Some brave hearts follow them, others give condescending looks. The tempo is building, initial calmness is giving way to impatience.


Chuk Chap chap chyak
We hit rockpatch. Taller trekkers can still manage to climb, shorter ones use their hands to climb. Everyone is trying to avoid contact and worse stepping on hands. But mishaps are unavoidable. The initial oneness of group is slowly giving way to competition.


Chuk Chap chap chyak
Japanese volunteers are the most sincere. At this hour in those mountains, they are guiding the crowds with their fluorescent sticks while speaking continuously in Japanese. By now heartbeats are up and some are slowing down. Others want to overtake. Tempo is definitely in the next octave.


Chuk Chap chap chyak
We see some trekkers napping in sitting position on narrow spaces on the sides. They must be the trekkers who couldn’t secure the accommodation but decided to do hike anyway. Wind is getting stronger and sheets they are wearing are clearly inadequate to protect them from winds. But they are so tired that they are napping anyway. We feel pity for them, but only for a moment. We are in a rush. We have to reach the top before the sun. Bye folks, we feel sorry for you but sorry can’t stop. Just like in cities. By now, all trekking courtesies and etiquettes are out of window.


Chuk Chap chap chyak
Oh take a look. The sky on eastern direction is brighter. We can easily spot the brightest point and imagine that the sun would rise from there. There are hardly any clouds on the horizon. Great! Twinkling stars are slowly disappearing, making way for the sun. We look at watch, still sometime before sunrise then look at the peak, the queue is slowly winding up Mt. Fuji. It looks like a fluorescent centipede moving slowly over the obstacle. We are not sure if we will reach the peak before sunrise. So rush!!


Chuk Chap chap chyak
Cut the line! Take the short cut! Avoid the hands! Oops Sorry! Don’t stop! Give way please! Where is my group? Never mind, they will find you, keep moving. I want to take a picture. No no. You will drop the camera. Move move move.
Its rush hour at 1:30 AM @Mt. Fuji.


Chuk Chap chap chyak
Chuk Chap chap chyak
Chuk Chap chap chyak
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