Mountain in the Mist, Mountain Power
Subway: Cheonggyesan (Shinbundang Line)
Distance hiked: 5.94 km
Mists blanket Cheonggyesan as I enter it because of light rain. Still, nothing can stop the power hikers of Korea—they still come in droves, bedecked in North Face. Streams welcome me not far from the entrance. If I remove myself from this admittedly crazy project of hiking all these mountains, I do feel that sense of calm and oneness with nature. But instead of pausing, I stride as fast as I can up the trail. Perhaps it is because of the mist, but unlike the other mountains, the trees in Cheonggyesan feel taller and I have a stronger sense of isolation. Onwards, the stairs are beginning to take their toll on me. I meet an ajusshi who easily passes me by (of course), and I ask if the peak is close. Yes, he says, and we ascend together. As we descend, he pauses to go around a big rock and motions for me to do the same. “Weh?” (Why?) I ask. “Mountain power,” he says. There is something comforting about this ritual. We hike the rest of the way down and sometimes he hikes backwards. At one point he turns to me and exclaims, “You hike so slow!” Tell me about it, old man.