In February 2012 I made a crazy, but what turned out to be, awesome decions: quit my job and move to Korea. After two years I wrapped up my life there and moved on to travel the world. That was another two year stint before guess what, returning to Korea! So here I am, back in Kimchiland with lots to say...
Saturday morning came and along with it great hiking weather, as promised we were headed for Geumosan. We caught the bus from my apartment to the station, grabbed a quick breakfast and some snacks for the hike; rather than waiting for the bus we opted for a quick taxi ride to Geumosan. The base of Geumosan has a beautiful park area, lake and small amusement park - but we bypassed those pretty quickly, our eyes were sent on the mountain. The first leg of the hike is pretty easy, clear paths and staircases, this is the part where you'll see small children and the occasional woman in heels. I'm telling you Korean woman never miss an opportunity to dress up, but this is one outfit/activity combo I will never understand. I'm assuming most of these woman are just making their way to the waterfall where they'll enjoy a picnic lunch with family, but really are the heels necessary? Do you hope to break your ankle, or do you just enjoy making things difficult for yourself?
We made it to 대혜폭포 Daehye falls with no trouble at all, but the site wasn't quite as impressive as the first time around. More of a trickle than the rush of water I saw on my first visit, but still a good resting point and place to take in the beauty of the country. Before long we were back on the trail; with this being my first venture past the waterfall I wasn't really sure what was ahead, only that the summit was still 2km away. After some more hiking we reached the first lookout point which gave us a nice picture of just how far we had gone.
Although there were needed breaking points along the way the hike it really wasn't all that challenging. I think my dad's major concern was that the hike would open up and lead us to a path/ledge where it looked like you could tumble down the side of the mountain - while I was the one climbing out onto rocks for a good photo opp. Yes, this is the same father daughter duo that couldn't go to six flags years ago due to my dad's desire to ride every twisty, turny, crazy drop ride while I would rather stay on the ground - guess times have changed.
Towards the top the hike definitely increased in difficulty but we pushed ahead, passing numerous groups on their way down. Army boys, fellow English teachers, and many Koreans. The last leg was the most difficult with me scrambling up rocks, almost at more of a crawl (due to the steepness and my lack of height) as we turned a few more corners we came upon groups enjoying a picnic lunch, the helicopter pad, and finally the summit!
976m and 3.4km later - we made it!
After taking in the views, filling our water bottles and enjoying our delicious triangle kimbap that had been in my backpack all morning, we started our decent. The way back down was much easier than the way up, although I may need to invest in some knee braces if i'm going to keep up with this hobby. I swear i'll be in for a knee replacement by the time i'm 40, I can already feel the aches with the change in the weather - mom I get what you were talking about all these years.
As we got to the bottom I decided to check bus times to see when we could get back to Gumi, to my disappointment we had missed a bus by about 5 minutes and would have to wait another hour for the next one. We could've called a taxi but instead we made the wise decision to start walking, as if the mountain wasn't enough exercise for one day. (This is the point when my mother would call us idiots) I had made promises earlier in the week for a good beer and burger so that was the next destination on our list. According to google maps (and my tainted sense of distance) I decided the walk was totally doable.
About 30 minutes later, now about 5:30, we approached waygook cook and were presented with a bit of a dilemma - door shut and padlocked. I immediately messaged my friend Loudine who advised us that they opened at 6, okay no sweat, we'll just grab a beer at the Family mart (and this one had MGD, that's a first in Korea!). This is one of the things I love about Korea (and i'm sure my dad enjoyed as well), you can get a cheap beer at the corner mart AND drink it outside at one of their picnic tables, it's great - and totally acceptable in the hot summer months. Finally we made our way back to the restaurant (completely dead and still cleaning up from the night before), ordered our beers, burgers and within no time were satisfied, full and ready to head home.
It was a great day and i'm really glad that my dad came along for my first trek up Geumosan. Although there were a few times that both of us may have been thinking "what the hell are we doing" the view from the top and feeling of accomplishment was totally worth it. I'm also glad I completed this as it was just in time to prepare me for my hike up Jirisan which was to happen the following week.
As they say, all good things must come to an end - and so just as fast as it started my dad's trip to Korea was over. The next morning we packed up his bags and were back on our way to Gumi where he would catch a bus for his long journey home. Thanks again for coming, Dad - I had a blast and I really hope you thought it was worth it. I decided you'd make a great travel buddy so if you want to quit your job and join me next year i'd be all for it. My list is long so pick a place and i'm there!