You’ve seen it on postcards, in photo galleries, in museums, and in Hokusai’s famous woodblock art, 36 Views of Mt. Fuji. The elegant perfect cone of Mount Fuji, only 60 miles from Tokyo, is a national symbol, a near mythical place for the Japanese, and one of the world’s most popular mountains to climb. As the official climbing season winds down the numbers are in: a record 247,066 people scaled the peak in July and August. Think about it: over two months that’s 3,985 people per day! If you want to experience the Japanese culture in all of its variety, be there with all of your Tokyo neighbors, and no doubt have a spiritual experience, climb the mountain next summer.
Over lunch recently my good friend John Flinn and I were comparing notes about backpacking trails in California’s Sierra Nevada because we both wanted to get back to the mountains. I was planning my first mountain backpacking trip with my two daughters aged 10 and 8 and intended to take them up a trail my wife and I used to love—before the children arrived, of course. John knew the trail, starting at the Lyons Creek Trailhead off Highway 50 just past Kyburz.
“It’s flat all the way to Lake Sylvia,” he recalled.
“That’s what I remember, too,” I said, “but I found my old topo map last night and it shows a 1500-foot climb over five miles to Sylvia.”
I nodded. I couldn’t believe it either. My memory was that the trail to Lake Sylvia was essentially flat, but if you wanted to go up to Lyons Lake, which Paula and I always used to do, it was a torturous climb straight up for a half mile at the end. Continue reading »