Conquering the Mountain This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   It was a beautiful, sunny day without a single cloud. Mydad woke me up at 4 a.m., way too early. We had chosen the perfect day to climbthe famous Mt. Fuji, or so we thought.

My dad and I packed our equipmentin the car and were on the road by five o'clock, arriving at the base of themountain two hours later. My legs were stiff and I just wanted to go back to bed.Once we got our packs on and started walking, I finally woke up.

The trailwas mostly loose rocks. After just the first 300 feet of hiking, I was tired. Iknew, though, that if we took a break every time I started to get weary, we'dnever make it to the top. I was encouraged by the young kids who were climbing;if they could do it, so could I. Every once in a while we took five-minutebreaks. They were so

relaxing, even though the places we sat weren'talways the most comfortable.

There were six or seven stations along theway. At each, our walking sticks were branded with an iron. My dad hadoverdressed, and immediately started shedding clothes. I was glad I had only wornshorts and a light jacket, but I paid in the end.

There were a lot ofpeople out that day, which made hiking even more difficult because we had toexert extra energy every time we passed slower climbers. When we were about threequarters of the way up, we sat and ate some apples, which cost over a dollar eachin Japan!

After eating, we stretched out on the rocks and went to sleep.Getting up after our nap was hard. I'm sure we would have rested longer, but anoncoming group motivated us since they were moving at a snail's pace and passingthem would be almost impossible because of the people descending.

Themountain deceived us. As we crested what appeared to be the top, we painfullydiscovered that we still had another 1,500 feet to go. The last part was the mostchallenging. Whether it was because we were exhausted or the ascent waspractically straight up, I'm not sure; it was probably both. Arriving at the laststation, my dad threw in the towel. He told me to finish the climb and he wouldwait for me. I was not about to let him stop! We were so close. I finallypersuaded him to finish with me.

It felt exhilarating to take the laststep up Mt. Fuji and know that we had made it. We had conquered the mountain! Wefelt there wasn't anything we couldn't do.

My calves felt like someone hadbeen stabbing them. It was around 1:00 p.m. when we reached the top. After takinga few pictures and looking into the volcano, we sat. To view Japan and thePacific Ocean from such a height was breathtaking. We could see for miles. Cloudsencircled the mountain, but except for that, it was a clear day. After eatinglunch and changing our socks (I can't remember why, but we did), we took amuch-needed rest.

Descending was easier than the climb, though we oftenfell because the ground was unstable. Luckily, there was always a rock orsomething to stop us. We passed through a layer of clouds halfway down, whichlimited our view. It reminded us of a very foggy morning, but only lasted abouthalf an hour.

We must have said konishiwa (good afternoon) at least athousand times. That Japanese word is permanently embedded in my brain. As weapproached the lower part of the mountain, we saw people carrying up mountainbikes. We stood in awe as we watched them pass. At the bottom, we stopped andbought orange sodas. Never in my life was I so happy to have a can ofpop!

As we approached the car, we realized we had forgotten to wearsunscreen. Our faces, necks, arms, hands and legs were covered with second-degreeburns. The dust we had collected just added to the pain. Our bodies ached fromthe climb, but that was nothing compared to our charred skin. Dad stopped at arestaurant, but I was in too much pain to get out of the car. Finally, my stomachconvinced me to make the effort.

I slept the rest of the way home. Thatday, my dad and I achieved something most people only dream about. To overcomephysical pain in pursuit of a goal empowered us, and it's a memory we will shareand cherish forever.






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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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