The only source of knowledge is experience, Albert Einstein
Seeking knowledge through experience is by far the most impactful and emotional way to learn.
A few months ago, we climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan.
We started at the 5th station with our crew. We bought walking sticks and mailed some post. At this point we still don’t know what we got ourself into! And while we sent our own prayers that God willingly – inshaAllah – we make it up there the Komitoake shrine at the Fuji Suburu line also chanted a prayer…
And then we began to climb. And it rained and rained… but it was so hot too. So we were soaked on the inside and soaked on the outside!
Since it’s Obon season – a Japanese -Bhuddist custom- there were hundreds of climbers, like-minded people searching for enlightenment and purpose as they climb during this spiritual festival that honours ancestors before us. We become humbled by those who made our existence possible. And even more humbled by the paths our parents (and their parents..and so on back) worked to create so that we could dream of doing this at all.
The rocks were slippery and you had to be attentive to every step you make. Here the journey is extremely important.
Then when we thought the rain was relentless, it stopped…and the sun came out for the last leg of our first day’s climb. Actually I think we just climbed high enough above the rain. From 5th station just past the 7th station.
e were so weary..but that sun on our faces energized us and we climbed again to our mountain hut.
I should say…
It’s taking me awhile to post…but I wanted to share the steps of this climb for those who wish to see.
We had dinner and slept on a mountain hut. Welcome to Toyokan. This was an amazing experience. It is at 3000m. We only stayed for 5 hours.
The sun set and it fell dark and it was so cold. I think I slept 2 hours at most. It was just freezing. Our crew talked about how hard those steep slippery rocks were to climb. You really had to be attentive and sure of every step. No time to look back or even ahead. Just be present in that moment. Yes, metaphorically..
But you seriously could twist an ankle or break a leg. I banged up my knee a couple times on the rock.
But it was a great reminder of living in every moment step by step. Being attentive to it. Careful with it. And that reaching the top will be impossible if you’re careless with your present. So just be present!
Most of the climb was in the night. It’s hard to describe…but we are scaling the side in a single line (all the climbers together). You can just see our headlight lamps and that’s it, as it is so dark. And it’s very steep and rocky. We are staying close to the mountain side on our right. To our left is the sky…we are seeing that we are above the clouds….but a glimmer of the sun’s rays are about to be seen on the horizon. This moment was so silent to me. It was difficult to take photos or even video in this extreme darkness, so I do not have many photos.
11pm – we start to climb in the night!
It’s dark. We had our head lamps on.
And soooooo cold!
We put on every layer we had.
The sky was the most majestic…. Thousands of stars..
So bright and even falling ones.
A crescent moon that began to rise and stayed with us even after the sun showed.
And then after hours in the dark the sun just beginning to enter the sky.
All three at once…
#🌞#🌙#⭐ This was really special to me because I call my children this…and even when they see the sun or moon or stars they excitedly tell me to look and then smile bashfully because they know I see the light of these wonderous parts of the solar system in them.
We made it pretty far up in the dark.
Sal and I really love this photo, I think because we are hiding our fatigue pretty well!
Mind you we hadn’t slept more than 4hours for the past 4 nights since we had arrived in Japan!
Because of the crowds during the night ascent there were moments where it bottlenecked…we had to wait a few seconds and then move…I totally nodded off a few times…my chin resting on my poles…I was soooooo badly sleep deprived.
This night climb was the worse and so difficult. My feet began to feel like lead, I couldn’t drag them.
I learned how strong my mind is. Because I only made it to the top because of will power. I honestly had nothing to give physically to this journey… nothing.
Just the strength of my mind and the courage in my heart that kept reminding me that I have some very special people in my life that love me immensely and believe in me… So I’m just going to do it for them.
Because honestly if it was just for me I was gonna check out! I’d be cool with that! I was soooooo done! I mean I just experienced every element of weather! I was exhausted and had no sleep! And I still saw some spiritually mind blowing cool stuff already. I’m good.
Oh yah. We did have to walk back down.
It took us 5 hours to descend.
That was hard too. (Easier but hard)
And more than 9hours to get to the top in total. If I ever do it again…and I won’t… I would do it in the day and get a proper night’s sleep! (Going in, my biggest fear was altitude sickness but I didn’t experience that..surprisingly to me, my only issue was the sleep deprivation…I really wish I had banked more hours of sleep…I am used to operating on very little sleep so I thought this would be the same..but for a mountain climb, sleep is pretty important at least a few good night’s rest before the climb would have made a world of difference for me.)
Oh and we got these amazing walking sticks that we got stamped at different points along the journey marking how many metres we had climbed thus far. 6000 yen later!
But hey we looked like Samurai twins for two days! #worthit! #iconvincemyself
Our last moments with this sacred 🗻.
Many lessons learned for this life-long-learner x 2. Both of us are in awe to this day.
The first day the rain and thick fog prevented us from seeing Mt Fuji at all. Maybe I wasn’t meant to see you until after I conquered you. After all who ever sees the success before the work is done.
This is a beautiful landscape. The rocks are gorgeous…red…black…fine sand…hard rock…green plants…flowers….moss…I wish I had a geologist and an ecologist with me to explain it all.
I only see this trip through the eyes of Ayah, Essah, Charlize and Adeel. Imagining what they would do in these moments or say. It’s so surreal to be above the clouds looking at these beautiful faces so they can see where I am and what I’ve done. I won’t deny I shed many tears on this journey missing them. Many of them are scattered all over this mountain.
From the moment I was with you all, I have been waiting to return. Being away has been the single most hardest thing of my life. Somehow I had more strength climbing Mt Fuji than being apart from you. I didn’t know I was going to feel this way. I am never leaving again. You guys will have to leave me to see the world because I am never traveling without you all again. #wishiwashome #missmyfamily
I need you by my side @adeel.khan
I’m ruined… Can’t go anywhere unless at least one of you are with me!! Life is just better experienced for me when I can share it with you. #💔❤️ Just grateful to God mashaAllah that He brought me through this part of my life to understand how incredibly more beautiful the world and my life is because of my family. InshaAllah I will do something this epic again while watching my children and first love be in awe of it all as they stand right beside me. (But not Mt Fuji! I will never climb that again! Haha! That was freaking hard!) But at 40 this is my last selfish dream for myself. Those singular dreams are more complex now and encompassing of all the things that truly make me feel triumphant : my family.
Wifi at the summit allowed me to call my family and show them where I was…felt like on top of the world. Writing this…even months later is emotional.
My Instagram post when I reached the summit:
I saw beautiful stars, a magnificent moon, and the most stunning sun, to make it to the summit of Mt. Fuji. #mysun #mystar #mymoon …my babies guiding me all the way.
Love you Sal for doing this journey with me. @salimasally
Thank you my love, for giving me courage. @adeel.khan #currentsituation#alhumdulilah