Tag Archives: Crater

Mount Fuji and Hakone In A Day

By Siddhi: 

Who?  Anyone interested in seeing or photographing Mt. Fuj. This experience is for those who can tolerate cold weather and extended exposure to a temperamental climate.

What? Mount Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan and one of the country’s “Three Holy Mountains” (alongside Mount Haku and Mount Tate). It is widely considered an iconic geographical landmark.

How? Although the Paupers aren’t fans of guided tours, getting to Mount Fuji and Hakone in a single day is quite a convoluted process unless you’re a skilled climber or are familiar with Tokyo’s landscape. So the easiest way to get see Fuji is through a tour company. A bus picks you up from your hotel and takes you to Station 5 of the mountain which is about 2300 meters high. From there, you take a bus to the town of Hakone that is centered in volcanically active areas near Lake Ashi and are led through a brief exploration of the region. Once the day winds down, you have a choice of either taking the bus back to the city, or the faster alternative: the famous bullet train.

Why? Personally, the entire Fuji experience was quite underwhelming. I feel like the reason I felt that way about something so many people rave about is because of my minimal tolerance for cold weather. I was bone-chilling cold the entire time and almost developed frostbite standing at Station 5 as I struggled to even hold my camera because of the biting wind. I had to spend 20 minutes near the portable heaters inside a small gift shop to undo what 20 seconds of December weather had done to me. But that is just my natural reaction to a climate. For those who are fans of photography and adventure day-trips in general, Fuji and Hakone could be memorable. There are some fantastic landscapes to capture, and when the day is right (which is luck in and of itself as you can reach Fuji only to find it shrouded), the vistas are beautiful. The views of the lake at Hakone are pretty stunning as well, and the cable car ride to the top of Owakudani Crater is reminiscent of the rising sulfur images of the national parks in Hawaii.

There are several tour companies that offer the Fuji/Hakone trip in a day.

Here are just a few:

http://www.japanforyou.com/index.php/japan-tours/mt-fuji-and-hakone-tour.html

http://www.viator.com/tours/Tokyo/Mt-Fuji-Lake-Ashi-and-Bullet-Train-Day-Trip-from-Tokyo/d334-2142TYO_F800_F820

http://www.japanican.com/tours/tourdetail.aspx?aff=GMT&tc=GMT01TYOOF880

If you are a true adventurer at heart, we’d love to hear how you saw Fuji without a tour!

30 Mile Bike Ride Down Haleakala Volcano- The Seeds of an Adrenaline Junkie

Haleakala Volcano in Maui

By: Siddhi

Few things in life fulfill me as much as adventure. If all I could do for the rest of my life is cycle and hike through the incredible expanses of this world with a camera around my neck and a pen in hand, I would do it in a heartbeat. Having been fortunate enough to experience so much of the world at such a young age, I’ve gathered an eclectic collection of memories – often consisting of interactions with locals and the places they inhabit- that continue to guide me as a I grow and mature as an individual. But some of the most memorable and defining moments for me have occurred when I have been far away from civilization. On the edge of a building attached to merely a thin bungee cord, on the open door of a plane with a parachute on my back, on a hand glider hundreds of feet in the air…the thrill of existence is what I crave and live for.

And one of the most enduring experiences that nurtured my adrenaline needs was a 30 mile bike ride down Haleakala Volcano in Maui. I was an aloof middle schooler who didn’t know where to channel her energy. But free-fall mountain biking down one of the most picturesque sites in Hawaii gave me a sense of purpose that has helped carved out my identity over the years.

We started the warm summer morning in a stuffy bus loaded with people and bikes. Clad in special wind-protection cycling gear, we made our fairly long ascent up the winding roads of Haleakala National Park, where Maui’s tallest peak rests at towering height of 10,023 feet.  I can do this, I thought to myself as we climbed higher and higher up the rocky terrain. The views that surrounded me all 360 degrees were mind-blowing. I could see all of Maui below me. The ocean, the stunning landscape, the smaller peaks that our van had just climbed…it was one of those unforgettable rides where everything I saw looked like a postcard, one of those experiences that make you feel like there is beauty in this world that nothing can surpass.

We were finally at the summit of Haleakala. I saw professional bikers finishing their physically demanding ascent up 30 miles of a tough and twisting mountain. It was amongst their heavy breathing, the bustle of tourists and photographers, and our guide’s series of warnings and precautions that a sudden wave of panic swept over me like no other.

This volcano had no side railings. If I braked a couple seconds too late the momentum of the wind pushing me forward would either throw me off my cycle or off the side of the mountain into an abyss of who knew what. If I didn’t keep my hands on my bike- something that I’m famous for doing to show off to myself that I can ride long distances without handlebars- I would be taking a life-threatening risk. The fear I felt in the moments leading up to my descent that lasted well into the first leg of the ride was unlike anything I had felt before.

And then, I started going down. Down a mountain that seemed to unravel forever into an infinite nature, down rolling hills that twisted endlessly into to presence of drop dead beauty. What was initially fear that had escalated into heart-pounding horror was beginning to transform into this strange sensation of exciting half-control. I was barely pedaling, the wind and gravity were pushing me forward, thrusting me into everything there was to love and appreciate about Maui. Everyone was riding at their respective paces, leaving me alone at several points. Just me and and nature. And once I bottled my fear, nothing stood in the way of my complete enjoyment and appreciation of the ride.

When we had reached the base of Haleakala, we rode back on main streets to the bike shop we began, marking a saddening end to an adventure that had, undoubtedly, instilled in me a deep sense of risk and passion for thrills.

Conquering my fears on Haleakala has led me to hand glide, skydive, bungee jump off buildings, and more. It was the crucial step in building the adrenaline-seeker I am today, and one that I will never forget.

(There are several bike tour companies that offer this experience. Google does wonders)