Josée Houle’s Milk Ninja
Milk Ninja composition copyright by Josée Houle shared here with permission -- Copyright 2018 Josée Houle, https://www.facebook.com/josee.houle.969
Nikon D800 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 48mm — 1/3200 sec, f/5, ISO 800 — image data
Milk Ninja
composition copyright by Josée Houle
shared here with permission

This composition, by Montreal photographer Josée Houle, combines my photo of a wall at Kyoto's Myouhouin Temple (妙法院), which I published on a post in 2012, with photos of a model being splashed with colored milk.

Josée described the process to me:

First, the model took the pose with all the pieces of the outfit that wasn’t liquid, to create the basis of the final photo. Once the perfect shot was taken, every accessory was taken off and then, the process of splashing milk on the model could start.

While the model taking and keeping the same pose as in the final photo, two assistants started splashing and pouring yellow coloured milk on each one part of her body at the time, repeating this process again and again, until many usable shots of the milk splashing were taken.

After, on the computer, a selection of the best shots of milk was done and then combined, one layer over the other, on the final photography, to create the entire kimono on the model.

A background was added to create a context and the whole picture was blended together to give the most realistic yet fantastic result possible.

It sounds really messy, but fun, and the result is certainly interesting and fun.

She posted the photo, along with information about it, on Facebook, and also some behind-the-scenes photos here.


Cycling Mt. Fuji
My Best View of Mt. Fuji All Day its slope runs up into the clouds in the upper right -- Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
mapnearby photos
My Best View of Mt. Fuji All Day
its slope runs up into the clouds in the upper right

As I wrote in my previous post, I recently hiked on Mt. Fuji. Today's post is about the next day's bike ride, a 100+ mile odyssey that included two cycling climbs up Mt. Fuji as far as the paved roads would allow, a typhoon, and a dead iPhone. The dead iPhone explains why there are few photos on this post.

Here's the ride at Strava:

There are no roads to Mt. Fuji's peak at 3,776m (12,389'), of course, but three roads go fairly high up. My initial goal of the day was to ride one of them, the same road I'd taken on the way to start the previous day's hike: the Subaru Line. It's a toll road that ends at the 5th Station, at about 2,300m of elevation (7,550'). Many people start their Mt. Fuji hikes from where it ends.

I was a bit apprehensive about the long climb, but also looking forward to it because the forecast was for rain all day, due to the typhoon that has passed the previous day; I enjoy riding in the rain when it's warm and I'm properly prepared for it. In this case, properly prepared means that I don't mind getting soaked and I don't have anything that'll be hurt by getting wet.

View from the Hotel Kawaguchiko Hotel (河口湖ホテル) -- Kawaguchiko Hotel (河口湖ホテル) -- Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
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View from the Hotel
Kawaguchiko Hotel (河口湖ホテル)

I started out at 8am with an hour-long spin around the lake the hotel sat on. It started to rain a bit during that 18km (11mi) loop, but I still got the best view of Mt. Fuji that I'd have all day:

Mt Fuji should be there in the upper right -- Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
mapnearby photos
Mt Fuji
should be there in the upper right
Inexplicable Path -- Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
mapnearby photos
Inexplicable Path

Having made the loop around the lake and returned to the road in front of the hotel, I turned toward Fuji. Within a few minutes I was on the road that heads up to the fifth station, rising quite consistently at a mild-but-relenetless 5% for its entire 30km (19mi) length.

Half an hour in, I got to the toll booth and paid my 200 yen (US$1.80) and chatted with the tolltaker a bit. He said that there were something like five cyclists the previous day. I was probably the only cyclist this day, because, I would later find out, two hours later, just as I was arriving at the top, the road was closed due to high winds.

And those winds, along with rain, started in earnest soon after I passed the toll gate. They didn't bother me much early on, as I just concentrated on passing the roadside markers placed every 100m, counting down the distance to the end of the road 23km away (Strava segment).

I also counted the busses that passed. Extrapolating from the number that passed during one five-kilometer stretch, I estimate that about 120 busses passed me on the climb.

The road on the way up is wide and sweeping and pristine — just lovely — and so when a bus or car wants to pass, it usually just swings out into the oncoming lane to do so. There's usually not that much traffic, but at one point a couple of buses had to wait before they could pass me, and it happened to be at the one short span on the entire climb where the steepness backed off a bit. So, to have some fun and to not make them wait so much, I sped up considerably. Soon the opposing traffic cleared and they passed, but because I was moving along at a good clip they just slowly creeped by me. The bus was full, and smiling faces in the window passed by slowly. It was fun.

And just as I was giving a nod to someone at the window next to me, I saw 50m ahead two deer leap across the road. I'm glad that the buses had had to slow down for me earlier, or the deer might be venison.

As I got closer to the top, the wind and rain got very strong, and for the last 3km or so I had such a strong tailwind that I was going 40kph uphill, where later on the return trip, despite now going downhill, I could barely manage half that speed because it was into the wind.

At the very top, the road ended and the gravel hiking trail I'd taken the previous day started:

End of the Road Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
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End of the Road
Mt. Fuji (富士山)

This video doesn't show it well, but the wind was ridiculous:

It was the strongest wind I'd ever tried to ride in, but as it later turned out, that record would stand for only a few hours.

I stopped for 45 minutes at a cafe for coffee and food, then ventured out into the cold, powerful winds for the trip down. (The temperature at the top was 10°C / 50°F)

On the way up, it takes considerable effort to ride, so that kept me warm despite the wind and rain and cold. I wouldn't have that on the way down, so I wore a raincoat, mostly as a windbreaker. I'd not thought to bring full-finger gloves, so I got two small plastic bags from the cafe and put them over my brake levers, and just used the brakes while my hands were inside. It worked great to keep the wind off, which is all I needed.

And that wind was strong at first. I kept one foot unclipped just in case a gust blew me over, and twice within the first few minutes I came to a complete stop because the side-gusts were so scary. After a few kilometers of this stop-and-go, I got below some line and the strength of the gusts receded considerably. After that it was a lovely descent. I took it slowly because of the rain and wind, so it took 35 minutes (Strava segment), but on a nice day it'd have been a lovely descent to hit hard. The current best-recorded time is a 62kph-average 22:46.

After exiting the toll booth, there's a 3km almost-completely-straight downhill section of road cut through the forest. It was still rainy and somewhat gusty, but I give it a good go, passing three buses (the only vehicles I saw the entire way down), earning a #14 spot on the leaderboard.

I still felt good, so I thought I'd swing south to another of the three roads that head up Mt. Fuji. I hadn't researched it well, but I'd made a route for my Garmin so that I could get there. The start of the climb was about 20km away, mostly uphill as it turned out, but the last 6km was a lovely fast (if it weren't raining) descent.

I didn't know it at the time, but the climb I was about to embark on, more than 11km at more than 10%, would end up being the most mentally-difficult climb I'd ever done. The unrelenting steepness for the entirety of its long length made it was far worse than the only climb I've ever given up on, the much shorter but much steeper climb in Osaka mentioned here

It begins near some kind of military base, as evidenced by the tanks that I saw moving around as I turned onto the road for the climb. The first 3km of road is ramrod straight, 10% grade, wide beautifully-paved road through forest, apparently flanked by more unseen military base, because at one point I almost jumped out of my skin when what I can only imagine was high-caliber machine gun fire erupted not far away in the woods to the side.

Also early in the climb, my power-meter pedals started to give really crazy readings. And then, while having stopped to take a photo of something with my iPhone, the screen suddenly spazzed out in a very the hardware just went bad kind of way. I immediately powered it off. I didn't know it at the time, but it would never power on again, and Apple ended up replacing it. I lost all the photos from the day, save those I had messagedt to others or posted on Facebook.

The odd timing of these two problems actually had me wonder for a moment whether this was the result of some kind of military jamming. 😀

Anyway, I continued on the absolutely-pristine-road 10% climb as it transitioned from ramrod straight to serpentine, and after about 15 hairpins (and an hour), I'd done about half of the climb. For those who know cycling in Kyoto, I'll point out that this first half by itself is both longer and steeper than Hanase, Kyoto's main hard climb.

And from there, the second half of the climb gets even worse, as the road changes from gorgeous pristine pavement to typical old mountain road covered with moss and detritus, and keeps at it for 6km at 11%.

This climb is sometimes used in the Tour de Japan. One of the English-speaking racers describes it here: The brutal Mt. Fuji and the Tour of Japan.

As the road changes from pristine to questionable, it also suddenly ramps up to 15% for a while, and just 50 seconds in I had to stop. I felt defeated and just sat there for five minutes contemplating turning around. This was the mentally-hardest thing I'd ever done on the bike, just to not turn around. Judging from the Strava data, I stopped about 11 times during this second half, though sometimes it's difficult to tell because my riding speed was so very slow. For the first time in my cycling life, I actually had to ride zig-zag across the lanes to reduce the grade:

Not My Finest Moment zigzaggy line is on the way up, straight is on the way down
Not My Finest Moment
zigzaggy line is on the way up, straight is on the way down

It took almost two more hours, but I eventually did make it to the top. The wind at the very top — the last minute or so — far exceeded that from earlier in the day, and I was pushed up the last 50m without having to pedal!

Thankfully there was a little store/cafe at the top. I got a $3 Coke and some food to recharge my batteries, and plugged in my Garmin cycling computer to recharge its battery. I also consulted with the guy at the cafe on how to get back, and was crestfallen to realize that the only reasonable way back to the hotel was to retrace my steps. The ride between the two climbs had included that long fast descent that was so lovely going down, but now in this exhausted state I'd have to ride back up it. Ugh.

Steeling myself for the ride back as the cafe closed at 5pm, I braved the strong wind and rain for a minute until I dropped into the trees, and enjoyed the slow winding return down. It took 15 minutes before I returned to the straight section at the start of the climb, and couldn't help but give it a good go.

This stretch of road just invites speed. The road is ramrod straight and beautifully paved. There are no cross streets. No buildings. Nothing.... no signs of civilization along the entire stretch. It just begs you to go as fast as you possibly can.

But I didn't. The gusty wind and rain kept me on the brakes much of the way, but I was still going at 80kph (50mph), with my raincoat flapping like crazy.

Also, the guy at the cafe had warned me that the real danger to this stretch of road was deer. The sides of the roads were mostly clear of trees, a path having been cut through the forest, so I keep an wary eye out for animals. I didn't run into any, figuratively or literally, but I did have to contend with this slow-moving monstrosity, slowing down considerably to pass:

Wide Load slow-moving construction equipment from my bike's rear camera as I blast by -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Oyama-cho, Shizuoka, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
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Wide Load
slow-moving construction equipment
from my bike's rear camera as I blast by

Because I wasn't at all pushing the edge of my envelope, it was just remarkably fun, and it lifted my spirits. I ended up averaging only 74kph, but at one point before I had to slow down for the construction vehicle I hit 84.2kph (52.3mph), which is my new personal record. (The fastest average for this segment is 91kph (57mph), set by a guy who did it eight times in one day as he Everested the climb.)

After finishing the descent, I spent 25 minutes climbing that hill I'd dreaded earlier, then an easy ride back toward the hotel. Much of it was along a main road choked with traffic (the Fanuc Jam, the daily traffic jam from workers at robotics company Fanuc, where Krish and Ram used to be executives). I could fly by on the side, which is always fun.

Once I got near to the hotel, I decided to end with another loop around the lake, so as to give me more than the 161km total distance required for a century 100-mile ride. This gave me my 14th-longest ride, and my 21st century. With 3,485m (11,434') of climb, it tied for my 6th-most climb in a day.

I got back to the hotel at 7:15pm, in good spirits but quite tired.

According to Strava's Relative Effort metric, this was my 2nd-most-difficult ride ever, falling between the 400+km pair of loops around Lake Biwa last fall, and the Stupid Cycling Tricks ride from a year prior.

It also bumped up my Eddington number to 68, the first change since the 400-km ride in the fall had put it to 67. It won't bump up again any time soon, as I need 10 rides over 112km for it to move to 69.

Fuji has a third road up its slopes, on the southern edge, which goes up higher than the others, to 2,386m (7,828'). You can ride 50km to it from the ocean, for 2,386m of non-stop climb. I hope to give that a try someday....


Climbing Mt. Fuji at Night
Wow, What a View just after sunrise, just prior to a typhoon blowing in at 3,205m (10,500') elevation, on Japan's Mt. Fuji -- Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山の白雲荘) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Wow, What a View
just after sunrise, just prior to a typhoon blowing in
at 3,205m (10,500') elevation, on Japan's Mt. Fuji

I moved to Japan in 1989, and the person who met me at the airport in Tokyo was Krish Kulkarni, a graduate student at Tokyo University, and the twin brother of Ram Kulkarni, my best friend at my own graduate school in America. I had most recently met both of them a year ago in Tokyo, and last week met Krish and his family as they vacationed in Japan.

Climbing Mt. Fuji was high on the list for Krish's 19-year-old son Vishnu, and they kindly invited me along.

Our Hotel Kawaguchiko Hotel (河口湖ホテル) -- Kawaguchiko Hotel (河口湖ホテル) -- Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/2500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 12800 — map & image datanearby photos
Our Hotel
Kawaguchiko Hotel (河口湖ホテル)
View From The Back Window -- Kawaguchiko Hotel (河口湖ホテル) -- Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 44mm — 1/2500 sec, f/6.3, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
View From The Back Window

Krish's back was bothering him, and despite a massage in Kyoto from Ken-chan that helped a lot, he decided to sit this climb out, knowing that I'd be there to look after his family. Anyway, Krish had already climbed Fuji twice in his life, which is more than enough.

There are various trails up Fuji, but the only one open this early in the season was the Yoshida Trail. One reaches it by road to the 5th Station at about 2,300m (7,500'), then hikes the remaining 1,476m (4,800') of vertical climb.

Our plan was to climb at night, so as to see the sunrise from the top.

We didn't make it.

Our Last View of the Mountain at least, our last non-close-up view, on the drive up toward the “ 5th Station ” -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/800 sec, f/2.8, ISO 12800 — map & image datanearby photos
Our Last View of the Mountain
at least, our last non-close-up view,
on the drive up toward the 5th Station
Scenic View on the drive up -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Narusawa-mura, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 1100 — map & image datanearby photos
Scenic View
on the drive up
At the Parking Lot Mt. Fuji Yoshida 5th Station -- Mt. Fuji Yoshida 5th Station -- Narusawa-mura, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 0.6 sec, f/4.5, ISO 12800 — map & image datanearby photos
At the Parking Lot
Mt. Fuji Yoshida 5th Station

In the past I've had very good (skill) with slow-shutter hand-held shots, such as this, this, and this, but my luck (skill) wasn't here on this hike; the shot above, and other slow-shutter hand-held shots are all pretty bad, sorry.

At about 8pm, the three of us (Krish's wife Nilu, son Vishnu, and me) headed out from the parking lot.

Starting the Hike Proper with Nilu Kulkarni and Vishnu Kulkarni -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/6 sec, f/2.8, ISO 12800 — map & image datanearby photos
Starting the Hike Proper
with Nilu Kulkarni and Vishnu Kulkarni
Half an Hour In at the “ 6th Station ” photo by Vishnu Kulkarni -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Half an Hour In
at the 6th Station
photo by Vishnu Kulkarni
What We Saw for most of the night.... nothing more than a string of lights -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/4 sec, f/2.8, ISO 12800 — map & image datanearby photos
What We Saw
for most of the night.... nothing more than a string of lights

At various places along the trail are huts that seem to be privately-owned businesses that offer lodging, and food/drink. They have bright lights, so you can see those dotting the path going up, as well as the lights of the climbers slowly moving like fireflies in between.

Early on we didn't meet many others on the trail, except a few descending from having seen the sunset, and the occasional few fast-paced hikers that passed us. I was astounded at how many people completely ignored my hearty good evening as we passed on this relatively unsteep early section. It's possible that a few had earphone in and didn't hear me, but for the most part I think some people are just jerks. 🙁

Early View Back to the City -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/4 sec, f/2.8, ISO 12800 — map & image datanearby photos
Early View Back to the City
Unfathomable if you need a smoke here, your addiction has stripped all self control -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 36mm — 1/25 sec, f/2.8, ISO 12800 — map & image datanearby photos
Unfathomable
if you need a smoke here, your addiction has stripped all self control
Sunrise it looked so much nicer than this photo illustrates -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/13 sec, f/2.8, ISO 12800 — map & image datanearby photos
Sunrise
it looked so much nicer than this photo illustrates
Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 48mm — 1/8 sec, f/2.8, ISO 12800 — map & image datanearby photos
Getting Farther from the city -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/8 sec, f/2.8, ISO 12800 — map & image datanearby photos
Getting Farther
from the city

Climbing at the pace we went was not physically challenging for me, though I saw many out-of-shape people who were puddles of misery very early on.

For most people who can climb a few flights of stairs without needing to stop, success comes down to a few basic things:

  • Have comfortable, well-fitting hiking shoes.
  • Have appropriate clothes (it's both very hot and very cold at the same time).
  • If climbing at night, have a good light.
  • Be lucky and don't get altitude sickness.

That last point is the hard one to predict, and the one that waylayed our attempt to summit.

But first, a couple of comments about equipment.

I used this flashlight, which was more than bright enough for climbing while at its lowest setting. I see now in my blog post about that flashlight that it's purported to last for 5 days on its lowest setting, but sadly I didn't remember that and so was perpetually worried that my battery would run out.

I had the head-mount strap with me, but I never used it. The path is very rocky, so for safety you really need to see each rock and judge its size/location precisely, and to do this you need shadow. With the light mounted next to your eyes, you are the only one who doesn't seen the shadows cast by your own light... you see everything fully lit, which may sound nice but you totally lose the ample depth information that shadows provide. Most people I saw had head-mounted lights, but I carried mine in my hand, well below and off to the side of my eyes. It was very effective.

One thing I didn't use were hiking poles. My hikes-a-super-lot bother Steve swears by them, but I think they're more of a hindrance on this climb than a help. It's not just a hike, as there are times you have to carefully scramble up steep rocks on all fours.

(The descent path, on the other hand, which has very different terrain, is perfect for hiking poles.)

Anyway, back to altitude sickness.

Altitude sickness, which apparently presents as an intense headache and/or nausea, seems totally unrelated to one's level of fitness, or to any other non-altitude experience we've had. It seems to be a predisposition that you're born with, but don't find out about until you're on the mountain. It's a roll of the dice.

In our case, 19-year-old energetic Vishnu, who had been leaping up the trail with seemingly-boundless energy, was suddenly struck by deep nausea and malaise. He tried to press through it for some hours, sometimes curling up in a fetal ball on the edge of the trail to recoup energy. At one of the huts he bought canned oxygen, which he said helped a bit, but it was too little too late, and finally at around 2:30am we stopped at the 3rd hut in the 8th Station and paid for a bunk to rest.

In stopping, we knew that we were abandoning the chance to see the sunrise from the top. At that point the hike to the top would take about two hours (if we were all well), and that's just how long it was until the 4:30 sunrise.

He and his mom were asleep within minutes.

By 4am it looked like the approaching typhoon, which had seemed to be something for later in the afternoon after we'd descended, was actually going to arrive much sooner. The wind was amazing. We heard later that some folks who had been approaching the top to see the sunrise from there were turned away, so I guess it's just as well that we hadn't tried.

Sunrise from Mt. Fuji Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山 の 白雲荘), at 2,304m -- Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山の白雲荘) -- Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/2.8, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Sunrise from Mt. Fuji
Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山白雲荘), at 2,304m
Side View shows the steepness -- Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山の白雲荘) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Side View
shows the steepness
Looking Down at the trail we'd arrived on -- Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山の白雲荘) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2000 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Down
at the trail we'd arrived on

Having climbed in darkness and seen only whatever rocks were within the limited view afforded by my flashlight, I had no idea what the landscape really looked like until now. It was barren and rocky, to say the least.

Me and Puffy photo by Vishnu Kulkarni -- Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山の白雲荘) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Me and Puffy
photo by Vishnu Kulkarni

I thought it would be fun to bring Puffy, a stuffed panda that has a special place in our house, on the hike, just for a photo at the top.

My fashion looks ridiculous, I know, but it was what I had available, and it kept me very comfortable. The base garment is winter cycling bib-tights, which even though they're just one thin layer, keep my legs warm while riding at speed in sub-freezing temperatures. Over that I put a pair of gym shorts, for looks (cycling tights look really weird to non-cyclists, I imagine).

For the upper body, I had an Under Armour cold-gear shirt, which I wear when cycling, and the yellow Gore wind-resistant jacket that I also use for cycling. In between is a big green raincoat that I'd put on just for the descent, because it looked like rain would come soon.

So basically, I was wearing all cycling gear except for the shoes, the raincoat, and the gym shorts.

As for the spectacular lenticular clouds in the background, I was told that they are a common sight just before rain. I'd never seen such spectacular clouds before, so I was thrilled.

Puffy's New Friend worker at the hut, who lives there full time -- Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山の白雲荘) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 40mm — 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
Puffy's New Friend
worker at the hut, who lives there full time
Back into the Backpack 10 gallons of Puffy getting squished into a 5-gallon backpack photo by Vishnu Kulkarni -- Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山の白雲荘) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 1250 — map & image datanearby photos
Back into the Backpack
10 gallons of Puffy getting squished into a 5-gallon backpack
photo by Vishnu Kulkarni
Vishnu and Nilu before we start back down, hoping to beat the rain -- Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山の白雲荘) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos
Vishnu and Nilu
before we start back down, hoping to beat the rain

I may as well include here the photo that appears on the previous post, taken just after sunrise at about 4:30am:

Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山の白雲荘) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/2018-07-08/2866 -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos

Half an hour later, we were starting our slow descent back to the car...

Heading Down -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/4.5, ISO 140 — map & image datanearby photos
Heading Down
Saying Goodbye the initial reason for the trip -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/60 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Saying Goodbye
the initial reason for the trip

One impetus to climb Mt. Fuji was to spread the ashes of their dear dog Sabkuch, who died just before the trip. He'd been a member of their family since Vishnu was a kid.

Ever-Changing Clouds notice how the lenticular clouds look different in each shot... they morphed among shapes fairly quickly -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32mm — 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 125 — map & image datanearby photos
Ever-Changing Clouds
notice how the lenticular clouds look different in each shot...
they morphed among shapes fairly quickly
Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/160 sec, f/5.6, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Passing By One of the “ 7th Station ” Huts -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 31mm — 1/60 sec, f/5.6, ISO 280 — map & image datanearby photos
Passing By One of the 7th Station Huts
Connecting from the ascent trail that we'd been on, to the descent trail -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 450 — map & image datanearby photos
Connecting
from the ascent trail that we'd been on, to the descent trail
Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/5.6, ISO 160 — map & image datanearby photos
Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 60mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Taking a Little Break as what looks like a parent-child pair walk by -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/7.1, ISO 560 — map & image datanearby photos
Taking a Little Break
as what looks like a parent-child pair walk by

By this time Vishnu's altitude sickness had abated, but unfortunately it was replaced by foot pain, for both Vishnu and his mom, who had rented their shoes and other equipment. In particular, Nilu was really suffering with each step, so the 3h45m descent was really unfun for her. Vishnu and I took turns helping her down.

Getting Darker -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/200 sec, f/7.1, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Getting Darker
Last Photo before the rain -- Mt. Fuji (富士山) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/7.1, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Last Photo
before the rain

It rained heavily for the last couple hours of the descent, but with the rain gear we were fine. It's the rental shoes that made the descent hell for Nilu and Vishnu. We vowed to do it again some year soon, but with well-worn shoes.

We got to the car at about 8:45am, absolutely soaking wet, and made the 30km drive back to the hotel.

Here's the hike on Strava:

The next day, I did the road part by bicycle, twice, but that's a separate article.

Continued here...


A Minor Warning About WhatsApp: The PC Version Doesn’t Work If Your Phone Breaks
Sunrise from Mt. Fuji just prior to a storm -- Hakuunso on Mt. Fuji (富士山の白雲荘) -- Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan -- Copyright 2018 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/80 sec, f/4.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Sunrise from Mt. Fuji
just prior to a storm

The photo above is from a hike on Mt. Fuji a few days ago, which I'll write about soon (I hope), but today's post is about the WhatsApp messaging service, and something I discovered about it during my Fuji trip.

On a bicycle ride on Mt. Fuji, while in the middle of taking a photo with my iPhone, the iPhone just spazzed out and died, and I was left without a way to contact the others I was traveling with. Unfortunately, the ride went some hours longer than I had anticipated, and I'm sure my friends worried.

When I returned to the hotel, my friends had gone out and left a message for me expressing their worry, so I wanted to contact them using WhatsApp on my laptop. But it wouldn't connect.... it turns out that WhatsApp won't do anything if it can't contact your phone first. My phone was a useless brick, so I was stuck.

Other messaging services that I use both on my phone and my laptop — LINE and Facebook Messenger — worked fine, so I could contact others to report my mostly-unreachable-while-on-the-road state, but I was cut off from everyone for whom WhatsApp was my main method of communication. This was unfortunate.

I've a special spot in my heart for WhatsApp, because it was created by a couple of friends, and I gave them some minor help early on. I was one of its first users, before it was a messaging app, and was literally the first WhatsApp user in Japan. But these days I tend to use LINE more, both because it has more reach in Japan (WhatsApp has much more reach outside of Japan), and because I find that LINE has more features that are important to me.

If you use WhatsApp, just know that you're running a risk: if your phone dies, or is lost/stolen, or runs out of battery, you're cut off from all your contacts, even if you have WhatsApp running on your computer.


Announcing my Upload-to-Google-Photos Plugin for Lightroom: Prepare to be Disappointed

Six years after Google unveiled their Google + social network with photo hosting, with heavy emphasis on photographers, and a couple of years after Google shut down Picasa Web Albums, the sort-of-backdoor way to upload photos to Google, Google has finally released a photo-upload API, so that I can make a Google Photos plugin for Adobe Lightroom.

Sort of.

What Google allows at this point is extremely limited, and I don't hold much hope that it'll expand.

As of today's initial release, the plugin can:

  1. create an album in Google Photos
  2. upload photos and video to such albums.

That's it. Nothing more. The plugin can't upload to existing albums or any album not made by the plugin.

The plugin can't delete or update photos, even ones it uploaded in the first place, so we can't make a publish service.

From the employee-developer interaction I've seen so far, I don't hold much hope for this API.

More information, and updates as they happen, on the plugin's home page.