Subway: Gupabal (Line 3)
Distance hiked: 6.96 km
Perhaps it’s because this project is giving me extreme fatigue, but my anxiety levels are abnormally high on the bus ride on the way to Bukhansan National Park. Many a Korean has hiked this mountain range, which has three peaks and I think counts as three mountains. It is a gorgeous day, with a very blue sky.
Mountains can surprise you. Two hours of a grueling rock climbing experience, I look to the left and boom! Such a gorgeous view. On my right, a huge rock looks like the head of the Sphinx. It is a tough, but not unsurmountable, final ascent to Baekundae, the peak. From a distance, I can see another peak, Insubong, and I am extremely glad I chose this trail. Insubong is for hardcore rock climbers, and I can see tiny bodies dangling like toy figurines. Further ahead, I see Dobongsan, which makes me gulp and remember my almost unfortunate experience in Suraksan.
An ajusshi asks to take a photo with me, a waegukin girl. I comply, then he becomes a bit handsy and puts his arm around me, to which I balk. Later, he apologizes by giving me three tomatoes and some dried Philippine mangoes. Hilarious. I’ll let him live. A kind English-speaking Korean family helps me on the way out of the mountain, and again, near the parking lot, I borrow some soil. I take my third can of iced coffee and wait for the bus. I think Bukhansan is one of my favorite mountains in Seoul. I would go back to Korea, just for her.