Subway: Danggogye (Line 4)
Distance hiked: 4.25 km
I have few expectations while climbing this mountain; I just know that it’s huge. It starts off with lovely objects, such as dandelions, hidden bushes of azaleas, pavilions, and a temple. The trail starts to become rocky and dissipates into a site for weight lifting equipment, rusty barbels and all. Further on, I begin to walk on smooth boulders made even more slippery with an occasional mountain stream. Every so often, I shriek when I nearly slip. When the trail levels off again, I look to my right and bam, what a gorgeous view from this height. Further on, I had a choice between going down or ascending to the peak. I wanted to descend, but who knows when I’ll be on this mountain again? I trudge up, and upon encountering rocks, I was grateful for the ropes provided. I meet an ajusshi, and at this point, I’m just glad to find other people on my hikes that I say hi and ask to take a photograph.
At the top, I am impressed because the views here have been the grandest thus far. I can see the tops of the shorter peaks, and chuckle at seeing exercise machines—quite minute from my vantage point. Walking over to the boulder with the South Korean flag that signifies the peak, I see an old man walking over to reach it. My heart stops, as I would be on all fours if I were doing the same thing, yet this old gentleman is walking on it as though gravity did not affect him. When he reaches the top, I cheer, and start to take a lot of photos. At one point, he glances at me, and I cheer again, screaming, “Hwaiting!”
As I descend, I stop an ajusshi for directions and he personally escorts me down the mountain. I slip many times, shrieking on the way and startling my guide. I apologize profusely, but patiently he leads the trail. When we reach the end, I thank him, bow several times, and he leaves me. I sigh in relief. This is the hardest hike so far, and my feet are killing me. Later in taekwondo class, of course it happens to be a Monday when training was tough, and of course in this class we have to jump rope for an hour. But at this point, my feet feel numb, and I could have jumped forever.