Saturday morning Eileen and I planned to go for a hike on the local mountain.  One of the neat things about Seoul is that even though it is the ridiculously bustling city that keeps weird hours and is always moving it is still dotted and surrounded by really accessible mountains.  Koreans love to hike. Seriously they all wear matching gear and its just a little almost kiiind of crazy in my book.

Anyway, so I wore my gym shorts, tshirt, zip up, and sneakers so automatically I get looks from people. They wear full body cover suits that I would sweat to death in so I just deal with the weird looks. end tangent and back to the point.  I meet up with Eileen and we are off.

She makes a note that she wants to take an easy path because its her first hike of the season.  I am fine with that I didn’t get much sleep for a variety of reasons and was in no mood to take a very long hike.  I am terrible with directions. that should also be noted, but I do know where I am at.  Then we reach this point where the path splits.  I want to go one way but Eileen thinks we should go another.  Shes Korean and I don’t always trust my directional instinct so we follow her choice.

Then I literally recognize nothing.  I know there are tons of paths all over this mountain and it is really well hiked but we are walking through these wooded areas and climbing up rocks and its proving much more difficult than the usual walking trail we take up.

the easier part.

Spring! It’s here!

someone clearly forgot where they put their mug for safe keeping.

This rock had a face.  I was hoping he would talk to me like the giant rock statue from Legends of the Hidden Temple cause I kiiind felt like I was on that show and just missing my Blue Barracudas shirt or something. Alas, he was just a funny looking non talking rock and had no wise stories or directions to give us.

We found this nice little rock overlook and sat for a few minutes to take a rest and some pictures.  We also had a very interesting discussion about the air. I made a comment about it being so smoggy and she quickly informed me that it wasn’t smog.  No it was moisture because junggye is in a valley basin point geographically so that’s why you can’t see very far.  right….or it’s smog and air pollution. but of course she was taught from a book so I just didn’t argue with her. Plus what do I know about basins and air anyway? not much at all. really.

I am glad I had my camera though because as I realized we really were kiiiind of lost we made the most of it.  We were fine until we decided to take an easier way down.  We just had to find it. We asked a Korean. fail. of course we were told just go up a little further and across then we will see the path to go down. awesome.

sooo we climb up more. Literally up the rock face kiiind of really climbing hoping the trees I’m using for support don’t break so I don’t die kind of climbing. Then we reach a point and there are three paths we can take.  Logically we take the one that looks like it is going to go down.  Logic fails. paths lie. I still think the mountain was trying to eat me because I’m a foreigner…or it just hated me because I wasn’t wearing pants like everyone else.  The jury is still out on that one.  The point is I was seriously starting to think I would not make it home unless I just laid down and rolled straight down hoping not to die or hit anything to sharp on the way down.

So we realize thanks to Koreans around us that we are actually climbing up. Then there is a sign informing us that we are actually only a kilometer away from the very top. We had already made it all that way, even if by accident.  Might as well just keep going, right? soooo we keep on trekking upward.  I am trying not to get to grumpy but I hadn’t eaten and I was seriously exhausted and hiking to the top was not in my plans for the day.  However, that is where I found myself.  One of the things about Korean mountains is that they have a ton of sheer rock face.  I know there are mountains of course like that in the States, but I don’t feel like its all that common in the Appalachian/Blue Ridge areas that I am most familiar with. So, thanks to all the rock the last leg of the trip is up a set of stairs.

Not only am I terrible with directions, I hate heights.  I get so completely wigged out at the idea of falling.  My brain runs a million different terrible scenarios about what could happen because I feel suddenly like I have no control over my own safety and I am leaving it all up to this man made structure that has a gazillion forces working against it. Yes. I have these thoughts. Yes I know they are kind of crazy.

I was fine though until I stepped on a slightly wobbly stair and then the panic hit me right in my stomach and I had to stop to stand on a rock point just to be on something resembling real land.  I keep going up and up and up and finally successfully reach the top where the platform is vibrating with the weight of constantly moving people so I prefer to stand on the mountain whenever possible.

Eileen and I were taking pictures and enjoying our accomplishment when this older man thinks it would be funny if he came up behind me and pushed me just a little in the way you do to scare someone from behind.  Only I had so much anxiety built up inside that when he did this thinking I would find it funny I didn’t.  Instead it scared the breath out of me.  I could not catch my breath to save my life.  I of course cried because I couldn’t breath and all I could see was me slipping in the gravel and sliding right down the ledge and well…dying. I felt so awful and stupid and I knew Eileen felt bad.  I felt worse for making her feel bad and getting upset over something so stupid, but I just couldn’t get air back into my lungs and that was uber scary for me.

Eileen being the amazing friend that she is points out that there is a man selling ice cream from a cart and I was very distracted by trying to figure out how in the world he got the cart up there in the first place.  Then she buys us each an ice cream and I feel a lot better.  I usually don’t eat before a hike because it never takes more than an hour and a half and I hate feeling so full while trying to move around, but after two and a half hours my sugar was dropping and the ice cream was just what I needed.

View from the top

If you look riiiight at the trunk of the tree you can see the bottom half of a guy and his yellow ice cream cart. He just yelling ‘icey cake’ which made me laugh a lot.


We found the path down and started towards home.  I slipped on a wet rock and cut my hand on the way down.  I feel like I always slip on something on the way down, but so it goes. We ended up on a paved road at the bottom and Eileen decided she was just too lazy to go any further so she laid down to roll in the same manner I wanted to use earlier to get off the mountain.  It was pretty humorous and she is pretty awesome.

Then we discovered we had walked 15 minutes away from where we started when we got to the bottom. We started by our house and ended up in Sanggye.  We decided to take the bus home which was silly but nice since it had been 3 hours since we started once we reached the bottom.

I am really glad we made it to the top even though it was a difficult trek.  I had a lot of fun and it was soooo nice to see some plants in bloom.  Spring is arriving finally! The Cherry blossom festival will be before the month is out which is early this year.  So excited!