Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Just a little Fuji-san exploration - hiking the Hoei Crater Trail

After a drizzly walk around Odawara Castle in the morning, a quick lunch at the car, and then a short drive, we made it to Fujinomiya 5th Station.
The drive up to the 5th Station was pretty awesome!  We went from rolling, tree-lined roads to zig-zagging steep climbs.  And, wow!  The views!

View from part of the Fujisan Skyline Road
(closed during the official climbing season as well as between November thru April)





On the map above, we zig-zagged in on the top right and parked close to the red "You Are Here" sign.  From there we walked to the 2nd Hoei Crater Rim.

The closer we got, the more excited Mackenzie got...the girl loves to hike!

The Fujinomiya 5th Station is the highest of the four 5th Stations on the mountain at 2400 meters (almost 8,000 feet).  It is the second most popular and 2nd most developed 5th Station.  There are a lot of parking spots here, also toilets, a restaurant, and a general store, I think.  It was closed because we are out of season.  


The weather was sooooo bad!  It was cold, extremely windy, and intermittently raining on us while we walked around the 5th station trying to decide if we were going to actually start the hike.  The trail from 5th to 6th Station was closed off, the actual climbing season not starting until mid-July.  The Hoei Crater trail was not blocked off and as we walked a few steps onto the trail, we realized the trees blocked almost all the wind!  And, the rain had virtually stopped as well!  So, off we went!


The start of our hike.  We brought gloves, hats and jackets, but it wasn't enough.  Mackenzie took her Daddy's sweatshirt to help keep her warmer.




SNOW!  We found SNOW!  And, Josh convinced "Little Flush" to throw snowballs at his momma!  (see, what had happened was...Garytt was proudly showing Mr. Josh his new train card when Josh noticed that one of the kanji symbols next to his name was the same symbol on our toilet handle that we say is little flush...hence, Mr. Josh's new nickname for Boy...Little Flush, and Garytt's return nickname for Mr. Josh...Big Flush)

After a few snowballs, we were back on the trail and heading toward the crater.


At one point in the hike the trail opened to a little valley and the wind was crazy again!  


Back into the safety of the trees.

Mackenzie said this looks like Grand Pabbie from Frozen.

So, here's where it gets insane!  Also, where we learned why the mountain stations are closed outside of the official climbing season...  So, in the picture below you can see Kris and the kids just coming out into the clearing, the ridgeline in front of Kris is the edge of the Hoei Crater.  Just a few steps past this the wind whipped over the crater at close to 70 mph!  Kris shuffled the now-crying kids back out of the wind while I had to drop to my knees because the wind was pushing me through the gravel towards the edge of the mountain!  INSANE!





At one point the haze cleared out and we were able to see across the crater to the summit of Hoei.  But, it quickly rolled back in and covered the crater back up.


Boy was NOT happy

Josh and Beccy, Sugura Bay in the background


We think that's Mt. Hakone on the left side of the picture.

Kris and Josh 

On the way back down Boy tried the snow again.  



On our way back down the mountain we had an amazing view!

Once down from the mountain we decided to find somewhere to eat.  We ended up at Akadama in Gotemba.

Josh, Beccy and Garytt did a wonderful job cooking our dinner!


I think we ended up back at the house around 8 or so.  This was a great day trip!  If the weather was nicer we would have climbed a little higher, and we might have had an amazing view of Fujisan's peak from Hoeizan.  But, we would have totally missed out on almost being blown off the side of the mountain.