Background on my background

11 Jan

Would you look at that, I already have a topic for my second post.I sent a friend the link to my blog site to have a read of my first post, which he was impressed with. Then I looked at the background and said to him, “oh you know my background, I took that picture.” He was like really, and I confirmed it was I. He thought I found it on Google or something. Then I thought (a-ha), that’s the topic for my second post, ‘Background on my background.’

The picture you see on my blog page (the smoking clouds with the sun peering through), is a picture that I took in 2012. IN JAPAN… Here’s the story….

Friday 31st August 2012, I arrived at Haneda Airport, Japan at 4.25am. My friend, Jason Adenuga (who will now be referred to as JA) thought it would be fun and somewhat romantic for a group of us to go on a mountain climb that same night. (Bear in mind, I’ve just landed from a 13hour flight.) When we spoke about this prior to my departure from London, I was pretty optimistic about the idea. (Sometimes in life, we hear these crazy ideas and agree to them without considering the logistics of it all.) So there I was feeling pretty cool with myself; yea I’m going to Japan, pshh, gonna climb a mountain. *dust that dirt of my shoulder*

The flight was a never ending journey; I’d watch two movies, sleep for a bit, still not there. Watch another two movies, have something to eat. STILL not there. Watch a comedy, laugh. Sleep a bit. Still not there. Watch a movie. NOT EVEN HALF WAY! I actually spent my whole Thursday in the air. I had no one to talk to and the seats were uncomfortable so I couldn’t sleep for more than an hour without feeling like my neck was going to snap off. But then eventually, (my favourite word that ‘eventually’) we landed “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, I have arrived”! My eyes are already slightly chinky, but after that journey I was squinting on all sorts of levels. Welcome to Japan!

Anywhos, I wasn’t so enthusiastic about the climb anymore, so JA advised me to have a nap and see how I felt in the afternoon. I was too excited about being in Tokyo I didn’t actually sleep till like 12pm. (My insomnia kicks in especially when I’m excited about something, e.g. it’s 3am now and I couldn’t wait till the afternoon to write this post?)

Fast forward, fast forward. I woke up around 2pm and we set out around 4. Met up with JA’s friends and we were all hyped about the climb; one of them was really commending me on how brave I was especially after the 13 hour flight and having only 2 hours sleep, and here I was about to climb Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan. I just smiled, and thought let’s see if I actually make it to the top.

The Gang!

So we took a shuttle bus to the 5th station as that was OUR starting point. (One of the lady’s that climbed with us had previously done the climb and started from Station 0! Erm.. Some people are just awesome). I’m really trying to just get to the crunch of this story without missing on the important details. (Pardon my digression). We had dinner about 8pm, got our food supplies; water, ‘Ongiri’ (my favourite snack in Japan) and energy bars. 9pm pronto we started on our journey. I’m going to try and upload pictures so you can see the progression. The first few hours were a blast. I was all hyped thinking pshhhh, mountain climbing, yup that’s me. I even had to take off some layers of clothing, because I got so hot whilst walking up, and then put it back on when we stopped as the temperature dropped so rapidly. Most trekkers start at night as they want to watch the sunrise (if you’re smart and do the maths, you’re already ahead of the story). So trod trod, along we go, having a laugh, looking at the lit cities from a distance and just soaking in the foreign air at high altitudes.

Getting our strength on!

Feeling so fresh at the start!

Then it began. Even writing this now, I’m slighty traumatised. After the 4th or 5th hour, it started to get to me; the mountain got steeper, the air thinner. My legs were getting tired. I was getting bad migraines, so was puffing hard on that oxygen gas. Then it occurred to me, “What am I doing? I’m not a mountain climber, my athletic days finished in high school.” The distance between stations got longer (the Summit of the mountain was at Station 10) so it was a while before we could take a break. We walked well into the night, so visibility was reduced. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment I started losing the will, but I’m sure it was somewhere along station 7; that station went on for ever. We climbed, I stopped, we climbed, and I wanted to cry. We climbed, climbed and climbed some more. Then it became a race against time, as we wanted to reach the top BEFORE the sun rose. JA kept pushing me, “Come on Tola, don’t stop. You can do it. Keep moving.” Obviously, at this point I’m not trying to hear this motivational speaking; I’m rapidly losing the will to live. So I’m getting frustrated with him, like stop rushing me, I’ll go at my own pace and if you want you can go ahead. But he didn’t want to leave me behind so we snailed up. (This is the polite version of events)

      So close, yet so far !!

I am not even joking, my life was flashing before me. I imagined what it’d be like when they called my mum to tell her the unfortunate news; I could already hear her in that Nigerian accent “Who told ha to climb mountain. Did I ask her? No! I didn’t send nebody climbing mountain.” At this point, I can’t even remember, if I cried or what, I just remember being so angry, so mad and emotional (all these emotions combined with a mountain, is definitely not a great idea.) We faced some other challenges along the way, like one of the other ladies having a mild burst of hypothermia, so we waited a bit and she rested in a station to warm up. As tiring as it was, the gang supported and encouraged me and I knew I couldn’t give up. It was going to take a while, but I was determined to get there.

The contrast of the rough texture of the mountain and the smooth fullness of the clouds capture my bittersweet experience

Back to the picture, it was taken around 5:30am, as the sun was rising. We (JA, I and two others) didn’t making it to the Summit before sunrise. But we were close enough so I took it from a few hundred metres away. I was adamant that I wasn’t rushing anymore. I told JA I am on a break. I wasn’t moving so I sat and watched as the sun made its appearance into the sky. Obviously, I can say this now because I am no longer on that battlefield, but just watching the sun rise, it truly was a magnificent moment. I felt at peace, warmed by its glow and I cried knowing how privileged I was to experience a moment like this, knowing I had walked this far. It was a breathtakingly beautiful moment.

Here She comes...                                                           The Epitome of Grace! <3

We made it to the top!!

Once the sun settled, we continued our journey to the Summit and reached there about 6:20am. JA gathered with the rest of the group and everyone just hung out at the top for a little while sharing experiences; I sat in solitude – I was not in a ‘people friendly’ mood AT ALL!!! At 7am, we rounded the troops. You know the saying, “What goes up…” So we made our way back down. You’d think going down would be easier right? But oh no, it was TWICE as hard. The steep was a 47 degree angle so it was really awkward and challenging to walk down without falling down. The ground was covered with loose rocks so as you walked it was really harsh on the ankles. (Mind you, there were people running down, gliding smoothly like they were on a ski slop. Show offs!) It took almost forever to get down, and to make thing worse, it started raining so the ground became slippery making the falls more regular and vicious. What made the descend harder for me was that I was mentally stuck on the journey. Yet, if I didn’t go through the painful process, there was no way I was getting off that mountain; there was NO OTHER WAY!! No cable car, no helicopter, nothing, nada. So I had to keep going down. And with every step I took, I cried inside that bit more when it wasn’t the last step. The end seemed so far. I didn’t help my situation arguing with JA, being moody beyond measure, while it poured with rain as I buckled, stumbled and fell on the ground. All I could think was, ‘Blood will be shed and someone will die,’ (just joking, but not really. If I put ‘Lol’ does it soften up?)

Lol, this is the face of someone who has lost the will to live!!

Eventually, (sighs with relief) we made it to the bottom at 12:33pm – Saturday 1st September 2012. And believe I was SHATTERED!!!

9.5 hours UP + 5.5 hours down = a 15 hour trek!!!!

It’s all over!! Beyond shattered! I could barely talk, barely stand.

I can’t even fully describe the tiredness, stress, frustration, anger or pain I felt, but boy was it a CHALLENGE! However, I climbed Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776m. I have pictures of the journey and memories that will last forever. The group I climbed with were an awesome bunch and added to the positivity of the experience.  That climb signified many things; that 1) It’s clearly a case of mind over matter 2)I overcame, I didn’t give up. Though I complained and cried most of the way, I saw it through. In regards to other challenges in my life, I will overcome just the same. 3) I was shown to a new level of glory, seeing the sunrise 4) Pain is temporary and 5) I’ve climbed a mountain; other than the people in our group, I don’t personally know anyone who has climbed a mountain, so that is clearly cool points right thurrrr !! (the Pocono mountains in Pennslyvania, USA don’t count; they are merely hills compared to Fuji). JA took us to a fantastic Onsen (Google it) and I just soaked my aching joints for hours. We had a nice meal and then I slept peacefully through the night.It’s fair to say I forgave JA for his brainiac idea and I’m truly grateful for the experience of climbing that mountain. Would I do it again?

Absolutely… Positively… Definitely NOT !!!!!!!


2 Responses to “Background on my background”

  1. Shah Haque January 19, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    Lol Tola!!! that was a hilarious post. thanks for the write up 🙂
    man, it was tough, but Im thinking about doing it one more time, in the ice!!…nah maybe not still.
    anyway keep up the writing



  1. 28 Years Later | thoughtchannel - April 18, 2016

    […] I’ve explored higher ground and deeper waters in different countries. Climbing Mount Fuji in Japan  and Scuba diving in […]


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