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Mt. Fuji Circumnavigation - Bike Camping

bloaker

Sincerely A Dick
Nov 14, 2011
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5,797
Nov 21/22 2020 I did a lap around Fuji with 2 of my riding buddies.
The original plan was to cycle from Gotemba to Gotemba on road bikes and call it a day.
My buddies talked me out of it and the best argument was - a rambling bike packing pace allows us to more easily deviate and explore.

The intended route -

Friday:
Loaded my van in Hayama, did a last second check list to ensure we were covered and on our way out to Camp Fuji - Marine Corp base and stayed in the over priced, underwhelming hotel.
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The next morning we snapped a shot just before rolling out.

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The route starts with a 800m climb that was very doable with the easy grade. We chatted most the way up and just spun at a leisure pace.
All three bikes loaded were in the 26-28kg range. With the mostly sub 4% climb, the weight was not all that noticeable.
We stopped and took pictures of the occasional scenery.
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After completing the climb, there was a VERY rewarding downhill. We had plenty of recovery time and top speed was in excess of 60kph. No issues with speed wobbles or wagging as I was certain the wind would mess with the stability a bit, but other than my finger tips getting a bit cold - no issues on the way down.

After the descent, we stopped at Shiraito Falls. We took in the falls and had a cup of coffee. I also bought a bag of Mikans and enjoyed the views.
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We decided after coffee it was time to deviate from the route. Instead of staying on the main road, we opted for some local routes up to Lake Tanuki. This was almost immediately met with a reward as we stumbled upon this set of falls.

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TBC...
 
We continued up to Lake Tanuki and at with no real ambition to do it fast. We spent tons of time looking off into the forests and noting oddities on mountains like how Pines give way to other trees, but in an almost perfect straight line. Trying to decipher why... but with no construction, remnants of mining, or power lines - several times it was just baffling how the trees were arranged.

We ended up at Kyukamura hotel and thought we might grab a bite to eat there, but after walking around, decided we wanted a heartier lunch. We then dropped down to Lake Tanuki and meandered around a bit.

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After the lake (I took GoPro video, but no stills) - we started our search for lunch....
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In the process - we stumbled upon Jimba Falls.

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Not as large as the other falls, but oddly - quite beautiful. Again, something we probably would not have take the time to see had we taken road bikes. Kudos to my buddies for twisting my arm a small bit.

We continued on a found this joint in the woods to eat...
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I am not a fan of mushrooms, so this is my buddy's lunch. My lunch was delicious, but no pic. :(
We finally got back on the planned route and did the boring droning alone the busier roads.
We stopped to take in the occasional view. The morning in Gotemba was too cloudy to see much, so this much Fuji in the afternoon was welcomed.

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We kept on rolling to our planned stop at Motosuko.
We rolled up fairly early, but it was already pretty busy. I know it was a holiday weekend, but the temps we expected people to shy away.... nope.
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Home for a night.
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TBC
 

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Motosuko - We stopped by the local shops and got some additional snacks and some firewood. I snapped a few pictures, but we didn't explore the lake until morning. The ride around was low traffic and quiet. Even with the bajillions of campers... everything with nice and peaceful.

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As the left and headed toward Shojiko, the roads were a little narrow with traffic. Not too much of a biggie, but it was a necessary evil vs fun.

Once we got to Shijiko - Fiju-san got shy again.
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This lake's camping options were not too good. Most places we saw tents were on slanted ground and could not have made for too good a sleeping situation. But the lake itself was beautiful and I can see the appeal to wanting to be there.

It was not time to head to Saiko. The road connecting these lakes was entertaining. The woods were beautiful. I tried to capture the beauty with my phone, but failed.

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This was the first glimpse of Saiko and Fuji-san continuing to hide.
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At this point, it was nearing lunch, so we decided to find food nearby Saiko.
We were a bit early for a few places to be open. We got in some views while on our search.
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Then we rolled up on a restaurant that was open. There were some roadies there already and we parked by them.

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After a day and a half of riding, we opted to sit outside.
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We ordered 6 meals. The old lady asked up repeatedly if we really wanted all this food........ YES!


Waiting on the Pizza and Toast set, and a few other things......

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Everything was fantastic! We then hopped on the bikes to continue.

Fall colors were still on display in some areas around the lake.
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And then we were off to Kawaguchiko.
 
Who knew it was about 1 minute from Saiko to Kawaguchiko?
I was not disappointed, but I guess I didn't look at the map closely before we left. It was quick.
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The highlight - Fuji-san started to make an appearance.
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The lake itself is beautiful, but it started getting more congested with people. Nothing personal... but I don't like people, so it was not quite as enjoyable as the prior 3 lakes.

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Lunch finally worked its way though and a quick stop by the rope way was required by 2 of the 3 of us.

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While I waited, I took a few more pics.
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It was time to head over to Yamanakako...
Other than the 3 cars that looked right at us while driving straight at us.... it was uneventful. I was a bit shocked by the 3 close calls back to back to back.
Luckily the only other notable traffic issue was a motorcycle that didn't want to let us pass in stop and go so he rolled over to the curb to block the way. So we just rode around him on the other side. Just stupid stuff... at least that wasn't dangerous.

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Finally arrived at Yamanakako.
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There was a mood to Fuji-san now... the clouds just made for some unexpected beauty.

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From here - we started to just put our heads down to get to Gotemba. We could see the rain clouds coming and honestly - we had our fill of Wanderlust at this point. There was minimal climbing on the second day and we just chugged and plugged through it all. In the end, no one suffered cramps and there were no mechanical issues. We learned a little about our setups and each of use would have changed a few things, but nothing let us down or created an issue.
 
For me the big add would be a camping chair. The extra kg is worth it. Sitting on cold ground while trying to relax sucks. Also - sitting Indian style then going to straighten your legs can lead to cramps... I didn't get them, but I got those twinges... had we ridden farther, it could have been disaster.
I would also go with some front bags next time even with the same amount of stuff. Packing in 4 degree weather... I didn't have the patience to pack as nicely as I did in my house. It didn't lead to any problems for me, but it was just a pain that I could have avoided with just a little more room.
A second burner would have been nice also. We went with one stove and when three guys are making food, coffee, etc... again, the small weight penalty would have been fine.

None of us really packed too much. If anything we went more or less minimal to keep the weight down. After doing the route and realizing it was not as bad as anticipated, the idea of a little more weight for comforts seems reasonable. I do believe we were packed well and everyone had what they needed - so just tweaks.
 
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