I woke up this morning to a chilly 23 degrees C. After more than two months of 28+ temperatures, 23 is almost cold.
I decided to take a day hiking trip to Bukhansan National Park which is on the northern city limits of Seoul. It was cloudy but it hadn't yet started to rain. You can reach the park via the Orange subway line (#3) to Gupabal station. From there , a cadre of buses go directly to the park. If all else fails, follow the surplus of Koreans decked out from head to toe in hiking pants, shirts, hats, gloves and shoes. I felt really under dressed as I made my way up the mountain. However, the best equipment in the world doesn't make the athlete. Few of the Koreans could keep up with my pace and I overtook hundreds of them on the trail.I opted to take a 4.1km (8.2 round trip) hike to the summit of Baegundae. There are three major peaks in the park and this is the tallest at 836 meters. The first 2km were easy going and packed with Koreans. It seemed like the entire city of Seoul was on the trails today.
I eventually broke away from the crowd. Koreans have an interesting habit of stopping right in the middle of the trail to rest or to take a picture at the most narrow area making it impossible to pass. I kept a steady pace and by the third kilometer, I could really feel it. The last kilometer up the mountain was very steep and at the summit you literally had to pull yourself up.The entire trail was forested and so the only views afforded were at the top. It had started to rain early on in the hike and I was drenched by the time I got to the top. Everything was shrouded in a veil of clouds. I'm sure it would have been an amazing view. I was more concerned about my own safety.
Despite the rain, the rocks had surprisingly good traction. The steepness of the rocks was amazing. In some places it was like rock climbing (without all the proper gear).By the time I did reach the top, I was completely exhausted. I didn't trust my legs at all because they were shaking so badly. It was a grueling day hike. Hiking truly is a national pastime here as there were tons of people out even on this nasty rainy day.