I have left the hostel that I'd been calling, for lack of a better word, 'home' for the past week, and very happy to have almost seen the last of it. I do need to return after 'Fuji-Trek 2010' to reclaim the turtlepack which is being stored there. However once that is done, I will be only too pleased if I never grace its halls again. Chalking my stay there up as 'an experience' and moving on. I think my favourite part of the hostel was a sign posted next to an empty space which read 'Please do not remove the hairdryer from this area as it is for communal use'. Clearly the sign was prophetic, but after a week of the hairdryer not being there you would think they would have removed the sign. The wayward dryer is not coming back.
Adding insult to injury, my check out was delayed this morning, due to the reception area being unmanned. I waited for as long as I could, in the end I had to drop my key in the mailbox and bolt. This resulted in me being exceptionally on time for my bus, which I only just caught, and exposed me to some very disapproving looks from the driver and station staff. After a minor coronary episode, and being seated cosily on the bus, I have a 2 1/2 hour ride ahead of me to the 5th Station of Mount Fuji. I'm all dressed for the occasion, at the moment just in my base layer thermals, being black merino tights and long sleeved shirt, with my charcoal mid-layer fleece zipped up half way.
The temperature outside is starting to drop as we leave the city and head for the hills. The gradient is not steep, but I can feel the altitude changing with mounting pressure behind my ears. I can tell I am not going to regret the accompanying items I have packed in the mini turtle, my outer layers, ski jacket and pants. I am thankful already for the handmade Tasmanian woolen socks I am wearing.
We are in the gullys of the mountains now, the mist clings to the forest laden peaks. The valley below the road has been carved by a still visible river. Ask any Sydney-sider what colour the harbour is and they should answer 'brown', which is very true, and so too are the waters that I have seen here so far. In Sydney, it is the reflection that makes the harbour brilliant, the reflection off the water is a deep ultramarine, which on a clear day shines like sapphire. Here in Japan however, all the waters reflect green, the cool hue of Chinese jade, a calmer shade of beautiful. This river is no different and knits its path round the mountains. The expressway dances with the river, meeting it here, skipping away there, tunnelling through hills. The bus climbs onwards and upwards. 'Fuji-trek 2010' has begun.