Monday, October 25, 2010

Seoraksan (설악산) with SHITY

(My victory pose at the peak)

This will be my first blog post. This is something I've been meaning to do for quite some time. I've now been in Korea for three and a half months. This blog has existed the entire time, but has been completely blank the entire time. I've gotten into Journaling, I suppose, and this has just fallen by the wayside.

I spent this past weekend in Seoraksan with a hiking group known as S.H.I.T.Y. (Sunday Hikers Interested in Trekking Yet - again) It really was a good time. Aside from going to Japan, I had yet to leave the Suwon / Seoul area. I've been itching to get out of the city and do something different. This was exactly what I needed. My legs are still pretty much worthless, after an 11 hour hike. Let it also be known that this was pretty much the first time I've ever been hiking.

I went with three of my coworkers, JC, Justin, and Matt. We got off work at 10pm and walked very quickly home to change into hiking clothes and grab our hiking necessities. Then we walked quite quickly again to make sure that we could catch one of the last buses into Seoul. It turns out we were very early, but we arrived at Seoul National University of Education (not to be confused with Seoul National University - very different places) around 11:30. We waited around and met some new faces, then we eventually departed for Seoraksan around 1am.

After a four hour bus ride and only a couple hours of sleep, we began our ascent to the peak around 5am. The first few hours of the hike were in the dark and very difficult, but once the sun came up, I fell in love with the scenery. The first half of the hike was taken at my own pace. I was alone for the first 3 hours or so of the hike, and it was marvelous. JC gave me lots of pointers for my first hike, the best of which was "Hike your own hike." I listened to music, took a few breaks on the way up, and reaching the peak felt amazing.

For the second half of the hike, JC and I buddied up and had a lot of life conversation. It was the kind of talk that just isn't had every single day. And to top it off, the second half of the hike was down into the valley. It was by far my favorite part of the hike. Every five minutes, there was another beautiful view.

We eventually finished up around 4pm. After waiting for some of the more experienced hikers to finish up with the more difficult hike up Dinosaur Ridge, we had a few beers and Korean pancakes. Delicious. We then took a bus to the bus, because the lazy-ass driver didn't want to drive through traffic to come pick us up. I was beat, and fell asleep and the bus to the bus, and the bus to the beach.

When we arrived at the beach, I got a second wind after taking a shower. The thirty of us gathered around 3 big tables and 4 portable gas ranges and proceeded to have a feast. It was the biggest mess of a meal, but I loved every minute of it. We used this time to get to know everybody else in the SHITY group. After a great deal of Mokgali and beer, my name turned into Idaho, and JC's turned into Jesus. Pretty fantastic.

After eating, we kept drinking, but we had moved from the pension to the beach, where we set off fireworks, and JC and another guy stripped down to their underwear and went for a swim in the freezing water. That was another one of the many highlights.

The next day, we were up at 9am eating breakfast with the others who decided to pass up the second hike. I opted to hang out on the beach and have a relaxing second day. This was the best idea. I hadn't sat on a beach in ages. I look forward to another SHITY hike soon. I'm considering going out to Dobongsan with the group on sunday for a Halloween Hike. We'll see. I'll keep you updated.

(Lunch time at the peak with some of the SHITY hikers. That is Jin Soo, one of the organizers. He sure is a character.)

(A Nice bridge view in the valley)

(Pit stop with many Koreans. The trails were packed)

(Another victory pose. This is the highest point in Seoraksan National park)

(A view of the descent into the valley. I'm pretty glad that we were going up this way.)

(One of the many waterfalls)

(Another view from inside the valley)