Thursday, November 28
Well, I can no longer cleverly say (in a whiny voice), "Winter is coming, you guuuuuys!" because holy moly, winter is HERE in Seoul. Before the changing of the seasons, though, I was able to enjoy the crisp air and colorful scenery Korea's mountains have to offer. In early October, Jaz invited me to hike Jirisan with her and a few friends. During late October and early November, I hiked Seoraksan twice (once with my girl Katy Wallace who was visiting from home [!!] and once with a big group of KPI folk) and Achasan once.
For our Jirisan hike, we actually left Seoul for Gurye on a Saturday afternoon. We had planned on catching the first bus out of the city, but since all the early morning tickets were sold out, we got to the mountain later than expected. Because of this, we basically had to run up the mountain to our overnight shelter.
Seriously fifteen minutes before dusk, we made it to our overnight shelter. We were all so happy that we got to sleep on the mountain and get two full days of hiking in!
As for my Seoraksan trips this past month, they were also quite gratifying. The first trip, made with Katy, was just a day trip. We were able to squeeze in a somewhat short, simple hike to Geumgang Cave.
In the Korean hiking world, it's standard to enjoy a few glasses of makgeolli during your hike. As we hiked Jirisan, for example, older men and women generously shared their food and drinks with us whiteys almost all day. Knowing this, I wanted Katy to have this experience as well, but we didn't have such luck at Seoraksan! I mean, I basically forced these ajjushis to accept our offerings.
Shortly after this forced break, Katy and I made it to the cave, which is hollowed into an extremely steep rock face.