Last weekend we went hiking at Bukhansan National Park. It took an hour by subway and when we finally arrived there was a small road lined with street vendors selling food and…hiking gear.
Guess we should have stopped to get some because when we finally got to the mountain we realized Koreans are hiking enthusiasts. And by that I mean hiking gear enthusiasts. And by that I mean every single person going up or down the trails was in hiking gear head to toe. I’m talking special hats, shirts, jackets, gloves, walking sticks, pants, big backpacks filled with who knows what, and of course, boots. Nylon pants in green and orange earth tones scaled the mountain while neon plastic walking sticks poked and prodded it. Expensive looking backpacks hung on every shoulder and bucket hats shielded every face. We looked so out of place in t-shirts and sweats.
Turns out you don’t need all the gear to still be able to get to the top.
We chose a path and as we ascended the crowd thinned out. The trees were mostly bare, except for a few early bloomers with bright purple flowers scattered throughout the forest. It reminded me of New England. It was wonderful to be out of the city and among the trees, the air was fresh and warm and I felt nature’s healing touch. I needed it.
The peak provided a panorama of the sprawling city of Seoul, a remarkably quiet and still presence when viewed among mountains.
The most unique part of the hike though was the sudden appearance of Buddhist Temples among the trails. They were gorgeous.
I can’t wait to go back to see the mountain in full summer splendor.