50 – Dobongsan 도봉산

50 - Dobongsan

Dobongsan 도봉산
The Ghostbusters Finale
Subway: Dobongsan (Line 7)
Distance hiked: 6.48 km
Time: 3:20:32

There is one day left before our residency exhibition and this is the final mountain. I am beyond exhausted, as is Mr. Kim, the facility manager of the studio who helped me install ten shelves for the exhibition. I am crying inside—there is still so much to do. At this point, I try to look back and think of what I could have done to prevent having to maniacally hustle a day before the opening. I am sorry, but I couldn’t possibly have hiked any faster than I already was. After the installation, in which I relearned what a drill was for, I hopped on a subway off for the last mountain, Dobongsan.

It is late, and most of the hikers are already leaving the mountain. They look at me curiously, wondering what I was doing entering the mountain at this time. I must look wild-eyed and on the run, for that was exactly how I felt. Keep calm and trek on, I tell myself. This is the final push. Go calmly, quickly, and try not to die.

My fears about Dobongsan are not unfounded. It is known for its rockiness, and by now, I know that I do not have the body type for a hiker. But what I lack for physique, I make up for in determination. I need to climb this mountain to complete all the 43 ones on the official mountain list. I need to track my trail to get a final number of how long I hiked, so I can finish the video for the digital media part of my exhibition piece.

This is the fastest I have hiked up a mountain. I power past a temple and a number of rock formations, and had to be helped by an ajusshi to climb a smooth rock that had nothing to hold on to. I finally see one of the peaks up close. I squeal. It has been a couple of hours. This is as far as I go and I will leave using the same route as I entered as it is getting dark. Perhaps the exhaustion is making me hallucinate, but doesn’t that cloud above remind you of the Ghostbusters logo? Something to keep in mind for one of my many other projects. But I digress. I take my photos and start to descend.

On the way, I meet a nice lady who helps me on my way. We stop by the temple to drink some water.  The lady points out calligraphy carved on a rock made centuries ago. So if it is done eons ago it is an important relic, but if it is done today it’s graffiti? Hmm. It is beautiful, nonetheless. I borrow some soil beside a bench near the entrance. I say goodbye to this last good samaritan of my project, and on the way I see nearby mountains I hiked previously—Suraksan and Buramsan. I smile at them as though they are old friends. They are a lot harder to climb, and I feel relieved I did not save them for last.

In the studio, there is barely time to cheer, as there is an opening to prepare for. I shower and think to myself that it is good to do these projects while I am still relatively young. I just turned thirty years old yesterday—I had almost forgotten because of all the hiking. I calculate my hiking hours and distance—124 kilometers in 60 hours. Oh my goodness.

This is only the first part of the project. But for now, all the hiking is over. No more mountains. Yipee!

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