Climbing Mt Fuji

I know I have already expressed gratitude for this majestic mountain of Japan, but it is a whole different type of gratitude to have summitted her.  As one might imagine, this is no small feat and was the reason I was so exhausted yesterday.

The Japanese say that a wise man climbs Mt. Fuji once, and only a foolish man does it twice.

I guess that makes me a foolish man.

I was able to climb Mt. Fuji last year but was unfortunate enough to have terrible weather at the top and really was not able to enjoy the experience.  I was still proud of myself for accomplishing the feat, but it left me with a desire to do it again.  So when the opportunity arose to go with some friends, I had to take it.
It was not looking promising in the days leading up to our climb with a typhoon coming through and rain forecast for the entire week.  With the way schedules aligned, yesterday was the only chance we had so we decided to just go for it.

When climbing Mt. Fuji almost everyone starts at the fifth station, which is around 7,000 feet in elevation.  As we started up the mountain we were essentially at the same level as the clouds, but they were also climbing the mountain.  

It is actually a pretty cool sight to see as the wind pushes the clouds up the mountain and you go from blue sky to overcast in a manner of minutes.
Fortunately, as we proceeded up the mountain, we were able to outpace the clouds and broke out into blue skies for most of the way up the mountain.  It was actually fascinating watching the clouds climb up after us wondering if we would make it to the top before they did.  Which we did.

The climb itself is only about 4.1 miles to the summit, but as it is also about 5,000 feet of vertical elevation, it is not a quick jaunt up the hill.  It took me just over six hours to reach the summit but I am glad we took a little bit of a slower pace because we got to enjoy the beauty of the mountain more, and we were not dying when we got to the top.

Beauty is an interesting word to describe the terrain you climb through because it is mostly volcanic rock everywhere with no vegetation or life of any kind once you get above about 8,000 feet.  And yet, it is truly beautiful.  

The sheer magnitude of its size, the dramatic pitch of the climb to the summit, and the feeling of comeplete remoteness of the mountain provide an incredibly peaceful feeling as you climb.
It is no wonder that this incredible mountain has such spiritual and religious meaning to the Japanese people.  

As I summitted the mountain for the second time, I was able to really take in the magnitude of the sight I have admired these last two years from down below.  With bluebird skies overhead, and only a light breeze.  I was able to walk to the edge and admire the crater of what is still an active volcano.

It is another one of those things that you truly must witness for yourself to fully appreciate it.  I was with great people witnessing a great sight, and there is not much else I could have done to better enjoy the day.

The one thing that would have made the day truly perfect would have been having my Queenie there with me.  She wasn’t able to climb the mountain while she was here due to a bum knee and then leaving before climbing season started, and it just breaks my heart because I know she would have loved it as much as I did.

As I sit here on the eve of my Japanniversary I can’t help but be grateful for the experiences this amazing country has given me.  I have met people that have changed my outlook on life, I have been to some of the most historically significant sites in the world, and I have witnessed some of the most beautiful and majestic sites one could ask for.

After climbing the mountain last year I was certainly left wanting, and having now witnessed her, in all of her glory, I better understand what I was missing.  Having now been witness to it, I feel fulfilled and enriched.

Life is full of incredible opportunities that change us in ways we don’t fully appreciate until later, and after waiting a full year to get the complete Fuji experience, I can honestly say with all my heart that I am grateful for climbing Mt. Fuji.

What are you thankful for?


Hard Things in Life

I realize I am probably a little premature in this gratitude, but maybe that just means I am actually growing and learning.

Life is hard, and the older I get it just seems like it keeps getting harder with higher stakes.  It never seems like I reach a point where I can just relax and enjoy life.  Once again though, maybe that just means I am growing and not regressing, which is something to be grateful for.  

What brought this line of thought on today was initially all of the hard stuff happening in my life right now and the strain it has put on my family and our relationships with each other.  None of us are as happy as we could be or are enjoying this vacation as much as we should because there is just so much other stress involved.

So why on Earth would I be grateful for such a terribly depressing line of thought?  Because I know the struggles and the trials will pass and we will be better for it.  My Queenie and I have been hand in hand throughout all sorts of trials in our ten years of marriage and every single time it has not only worked out for the best but we have become better people from it.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t appreciate a few things just falling into place for us right now and alleviating some stress, but I know we will get there.

This whole principle was further emphasized while talking with a friend tonight.  Our conversation got me thinking about how hard I thought certain aspects of my job we’re when I was first going through training.  Now many of those things are just second nature and I don’t even have to think about them.  Things that I really struggled with when I was new are now easy and I wonder how I could have ever struggled so much.

Which I think really gets to the crux of why I am grateful for hard things in life.  I love feeling like I am growing and developing, and I hate feeling like I am stagnant.  When I face big challenges and trials I know that I am going to walk away from them a better person in some way.

Life is full of challenges and opportunities that are just waiting to be taken by those who are willing to do what it takes to benefit from them.  That is why I am so grateful for the hard things in life?

What are you grateful for?