The night before we did a little bit of research as to what trail we wanted to take. We thought a 2 hour hike sounded good; then we could catch a bite to eat and wander around Seoul checking out some of the markets and shopping areas. However, our plans quickly changed when we met our “Korean Daddy” (the name he gave himself when he found out he was the same age as our parents) on the train on the way to Bukhansan National Park. He asked where we were going and when we told him and found out we were both headed to the park to hike, he told us to follow him.
So we followed him through the train station where we met up with his group. As we approached the group, a bit of apprehension creeped in. Every single member of the group was fully equipped from head to toe with hiking gear—we’re talking hiking shirt, vest, boots, walking sticks, visors, stools, and some even had hiking gloves! They don’t mess around! Here we wander over in our t-shirts and I suddenly felt that perhaps this hike was more than we bargained for. But…I like hiking and am always up for an adventure, so we proceeded. The apprehension grew a bit as we did group stretches and began making the climb while rarely pausing to take a breath. We made it to the top of one mountain after about one hour (Imagine doing squats and/or lunges for one hour straight and then you can imagine what my legs felt like!) and the view was beautiful.
We went down and had a great “picnic” lunch Korean style. Since we only planned to hike for 2 hours we brought some meager snacks, but thankfully our new Korean friends willingly shared their food with us and wanted us to sample everything they brought. After a short re-fueling, we were off again to conquer the second mountain. There were times during this ascent that I didn’t think my legs could make one more step, and at one point as I was plodding away, one of the men in the group looked back at me and said, “No problem?” to which I smiled, laughed and responded, “No problem!”. (What I was thinking was, “Yeah, no problem if my legs fall off! Who needs them anyways?!”)
Again we made it and admired the beautiful view for a brief time and headed back down. This time we stopped by a small stream of water to cool our feet and just relax for a bit. I got a kick out of it when our “Korean Daddy” asked us (after hiking for 4 hours) if we wanted to do a long or a short hike. Short hike? We’ve already hiked for 4 hours…how can that possibly qualify as a short hike??? Brent—being the smart man he is—said that a short one would be better because I was pretty tired. The man looked at me and said, “Yes…she DYING!” (Side note: I thought I actually held up pretty good but I was exhausted.) So we had an hour of downhill and we made it safely back to the train station with legs that dreaded every stair for the next few days! That—my friends—is the story of our 5 hour “short hike”!
All that being said, it was actually a very fun day with beautiful weather, beautiful views, and good company. I was glad we went.