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26 October 2009

Near the summit that was "just 10 more minutes" away.

Went hiking this weekend up to a lovely mountain in Korea called Seoraksan.

I found out that hiking in Korea consists of the following:  a bus trip at midnight,  no sleep, a 4am start in the dark, a race against hundreds of ajumas and ajishis (older Korean women and men with the latest in hiking equipment and apparel) up the mountain,  an intolerable amount of sweat, cold temps, burning calves/thighs/buttocks/back/everything else, and a series of promises such as “only 10 more minutes to the top” followed by two hours hiking without reaching said summit.

Seoraksan packed with people wanting to see the change of colors.

Yet, what an amazing hike it was.  After almost three hours, I was welcomed with  absolutely stunning views paired with a sense of accomplishment that I successfully evaded death on the climb up once the sunlight revealed the ridiculous paths, rocks, inclines, and near missteps that we narrowly avoided on our way up in the pitch dark with our wimpy little flashlights.

In 6-7 hours time we made our way to the top (or close to) and back down again hours before our hardcore hiking counterparts would finish their loop encompassing 4 more summits.  As we waited we explored, ate, and napped passed out in the lawn of one of the hotels at the base.

This rocky path is what we ascended in the dark for approx three hours. And, this is a mild section.

While I  feel like an ajuma myself after climbing that mountain so clumsily and feeling the burn in my legs two days later, I plan to do another hike in two weeks time in hopes of finding more interest in this activity I am so ill-prepared for here in Korea.

A sweet looking river rock bed at the base of Seoraksan.

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