033: Miho no Matsubara — Lake Kawaguchi, Mt Fuji

Saturday, April 30th

I began today at sea level, and finished it over three and half thousand feet above. Beach camping worked out well after all. The rain stopped in the early hours of the morning and I woke up to a dry tent at sunrise. It was not long after 5am but the shore was already lined with people fishing and perhaps a few others trying to get an early shot of Mt. Fuji, which appeared to still be hiding in the clouds.

I went back along the shore to the lighthouse and chatted to a guy who had worked on the Kumamoto earthquake recently. He was in the area to visit his son, and walk his dog along the beach. He gave me a treat to feed it. I forget it’s name but it was 13 years old and didn’t like me touching it’s ears.

I tried to find the other lighthouse on the corner of the island, instead finding some kind of dinosaur park instead. I circled back for one more longing look at the Pacific and headed out of the city.

Once I cleared the port area I ended up on a steep but short climb to a viewpoint over the bay. Just below was a field of orange trees growing. At a rest stop a group of bikers admired the view.

I headed down. A long winding road past more orange trees. Around the second bend my first view of mt Fuji awaited. It was jut the snow covered peak, but it was instantly recognisable, and iconic. It looked how a mountain should look.

After stopping for coffee I headed on. It was mid morning and already hot. Speedy cyclists passed in twos or threes in the opposite direction, and more motorcyclists who also stuck together. It was Saturday and people were out doing weekend things.

It wasn’t long before I was on the route 75, heading uphill as I would be for most of the afternoon. It began easily enough. A quiet road with a long but gentle incline through what looked like a Swiss postcard. The air was clean and fresh, the sky blue, and the clouds fluffy.

It wasn’t a tough climb, physically, but not be able to see an end in sight did pose some kind of mental challenge. But I kept going, enjoying the sun and the scenery. I think I have a tan for the first time in my life. It was quiet. Old fashioned petrol stations and vending machines which hadn’t been restocked in years.

I reached a junction and began a much steeper and longer section on a busier road which would take me around three hours to complete, and eventually lead to the lakes.

Mt Fuji became a constant backdrop now now, but it was hard to resist glancing at it. I stopped at a bench to take a break and some photos. My Fuji bike, shot with a Fuji camera, with Mt Fuji in the background.

The road became flanked with pine trees as it got higher and tougher. I was struggling a little, consuming what I thought was two days worth of snacks in just a few hours to keep me going, but I could feel a difference in my fitness and strength now, and the bike handled better uphill without the front panniers.

The road was heavy with weekend traffic, presumably most people heading to the lakes which surround mt Fuji.

I stopped a few times along the way. An abandoned hotel, a swampy green swimming pool, a novelty sized plastic ice cream cone.

The road came to a viewpoint overlooking Lake Motosu. After this is was all downhill to Lake Kawaguchi, in Fujikawaguchiko, where I planned to spend the night. After all the climbing I had done it feels obvious to say this felt quite amazing and well earned. Made even more satisfying since most of the cars that had passed me in the last hour were now stuck in a traffic jam which built up as the roads entered the small towns which surrounded the lakes. I glided past them on the left of the road as cold air rushed through me.

I got the same feeling I always do after being on my own for a long time, and then find myself in a touristic place filled with people, I just want to get away from it all again. I cycle around Lake Kawaguchi to find a quiet spot to camp. About half way around is a piece of shoreline. Some people are setting up cameras for the sunset. I speak to one guy who’d come down from Tokyo that day and said today Mt. Fuji is the best he’s ever seen it, the sky is completely clear, the lake is flat.

After sunset I put up my tent. My whole body is tired and almost immedietely I fall into deep placid sleep.


Red House Painters – Cruiser

Map (via Strava)