Jon-Carlos Mayes is a Manager of Global Infrastructure, based in Indeed Japan. Here is his amazing story of ascending Mt Fuji with fellow Indeedians for charity.
About a year ago, a group from my team at the Tokyo Tech Tamachi office and a few from other teams were having lunch together and the conversation turned to challenges we had faced. I started to talk about a Fuji Sea to Summit charity walk that I did a few years prior. Others expressed interest in wanting to do something similar at Indeed. As most people drive about halfway up Mt. Fuji and then start to climb, the team felt that it would feel more authentic to summit it from the bottom to the top, and we set about making it a reality.
To practice for the challenge, the team scheduled a walk via the Yamanote Train Line, which is a 42km train line that circles Tokyo. Many members started walking from their houses a few times a week.
While we were training in mid-July, we also talked about what charities were close to our hearts and health care charities continued to come up. The whole team decided to support Mind, a great organization in the UK that one of the members had used before and Cancer Research UK, which is the world’s largest cancer research charity in the world and also a charity that was on GoodDeeds.
We asked the GoodDeeds team if we could create a friend-raising opportunity to raise as much as we could. The team in Dublin worked hard to create our page and advertise it on Wonka Vision, via newsletters and Slack. I contacted the managers of the team members in other regions and asked for donations. Everyone helped and we got a great response.
Start: Fuji City in Shizuoka Prefecture at the ocean 0m above sea level
End: Top of Mt. Fuji 3776m above sea level
Route duration: 2 nights, 3 days
Route Length: 42 KM
Later in July, we started our mountain trek by hiking 41 km (25 miles) from 0m to around 2,400m (7,800 ft). We made it to around 1,500m (5,000 ft) and the challenge became a little too much, and as a team, we decided to return and regroup. The team stuck together and helped each other with encouraging words and physical support where needed. It was certainly a low point as we were unable to reach the very challenging destination that we had anticipated.
On our return to Tokyo, we got together and reflected on the challenge and with a new sense of purpose, we started to train even harder. At this time, charity donations were pouring in, and we already surpassed our goal, which helped our resolve to see this challenge through. The support and encouragement from others helped the team focus to train two months and go again near the end of the hiking season.
We started to watch the weather and found a break in the rain again. We gave options for the walkers to start where we finished or to go from the beach. Sadly, due to illness, one had to drop out and another was also unable to make it. Two members decided to walk from the beach and the other three decided to continue where they left off.
On September 1, the weather from the beach was wonderful and very warm. The walkers headed off around 5am to ensure not to be hit by the strong heat throughout the whole trip.
The view of Mt. Fuji from the ocean was spectacular and really set the mood for the walk.
As we got closer, the beauty of Mt. Fuji kept us motivated. We walked a total of 29km (18 miles) and from an elevation of 0m to 1,500m (4,900 ft)
After arriving in the early afternoon at the campsite, where we stopped on the first try, we relaxed at the cottage and rested up for the big trek the next morning.
After a great night of rest, the team took off from the campsite together and we started our walk up the road with the next goal of making it to the backwoods. We found a great spot to see Mt. Fuji just prior to heading into the woods — our goal was in view!
After hiking through the backwoods, we quickly got tired of the uphill climb through the woods. We finally reached the trails showing us directions to the Fujinomiya, where we would start to ascend at a steeper rate and it showed us the slow progress we were making.
The trails offered really beautiful views and help distract us from the task ahead.
After more hours of constant uphill battle, we finally reached the 7th Station, which was up 14 km (8.5 miles) and at an elevation 2780m (8900 ft). We enjoyed a wonderful curry dinner and saw a really cool rainbow between some clouds and then took a nap until 10 pm.
One of the team had to pull out sadly at this point and he stayed overnight at the hut to get his energy back and safely headed down to the parking area.
After our respite, we left the hut and started the final ascent. We had another 4 km to walk and most of that was fairly straight up. We were very relaxed and rested, and so our ascent to the top was a lot quicker than what we had thought, and we actually arrived at the top 2.4 hours quicker than anticipated. This would have been fine, except that the wind was blowing very hard and it was right at freezing temperatures. We walked from the Fujinomiya side to the Yoshida side of the mountain and then had some hot miso soup and Cup o’Noodles. It all tasted so wonderful in the freezing weather! From the top, we saw a beautiful sunrise and some of the best views this world has to offer.
We decided to take Indeed T-shirts and the Indeed flag to the top of the mountain and at the sea and get some pics. We learned, however, that the T-shirts were fine at the bottom of the mountain, but didn’t provide enough warmth at the top to withstand wind chills of -1c (30 F).
On our descent from Mt. Fuji, we headed down using the Yoshida trail and that took about three hours to make it to the parking lot where we enjoyed a quick bite and then caught a bus to the station. All of us were tired and worn out, but we all had a lot of energy as the adrenaline from the accomplishment was still pumping through our veins.
When we got back to work the next day, we checked our GoodDeeds page and saw that the final calculation was $2,362.72 (equivalent to (255,500 JPY, 2,134 EUR, 1,913 GBP). The team is so proud at how much was raised for and split between our two charities. Indeedians accounted for $949.65 of that, with $949.65 being matched from Indeed itself!
We learned quickly from this experience that this was a challenge indeed, and although the first attempt was not what we had hoped for, we proved that failure is not the end, but the beginning of the journey.
And we overcame that failure by training harder. The team helped and motivated each other.
I would tell anyone wanting to start anything like this to just start it! As you can see, a small group of us were able to raise a wonderful amount of money for charity and push ourselves mentally and physically to accomplish it. Now that it is done, more are aware of our journey, and we are already being asked if there will be another event soon. The team is excited to make the event larger next year to triple our donations. Indeed was so wonderful at supporting and assisting us to ensure that this was a great event, and from our perspective, it was 100% perfect!
Hope to see you at next year’s walk!
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