My alarm went off at 5:03am, and after snoozing until 5:10am, I threw on leggings, pants and who knows how many layers on top. I hate cold weather, but I’m willing to put up with frozen fingers and snotcicles if the view blows me away. I’m actually willing to put up with all kinds of bullshit if I can catch a banger sunrise, but I noticed it was raining. Hard. Of course it was. I took my contacts out and crawled back into my futon on the floor. The fluffy down duvet felt like heaven, and I definitely slept for a full hour before stirring again.
Just before 8am Callum made a pot of green tea and loaded the Fuji webcam on his laptop. Based on the noises he was making, I knew it was good news. When he showed me the computer screen, we had a full-on freakout and made it out the door in 30 seconds flat. From the Lake Kawaguchi live camera, we could see a clear view of the mountain — and a fat stack of lenticular clouds on top of it. It’s one of those things every photographer fantasizes about, but we're so rarely rewarded with. I saw some sloppy lenticular formations in Iceland last March, and this past summer I was lucky enough to shoot them over the top of Mt. Hood at sunset. But Fuji?! We came here for fall colors and sunrise mountain views, but never in a million years did we dream of this.
The formation had engulfed the summit, but watching the crown of monstrous clouds twist around the top of a 12,388 foot mountain was just as hypnotic as watching a snow-capped peak turn pink under the morning sun. The wind was pulling clouds near the base of the mountain to the east, but the lenticulars stayed in a relatively fixed position for the 30 minutes we sat there. Another set of clouds moved in and the lenticulars fizzled out, so we took that as our cue to head to Starbucks for all kinds of delicious things that aren’t on the menu in North America. (Fun fact: They have bacon spinach quiche and eggplant tomato lasagna as breakfast foods, along with chocolate banana cream donuts.)