Transitions commence new adventures. Make 'em last…
Having duly enjoyed 9 hours of deep, unrelenting sleep without the need to quarrel with the menacing alarm clock, I woke up with extremely cold, aching feet. With my eyes still closed I haphazardly slipped my hand along the insides of the sheets and let it drop upon the floor unfortunately creating an open sleeve that allowed an icy draft to begin destroying the 9-hours-in-the-making warm pocket of air I made for myself throughout the night. I sighed and dragged my knuckles upon the floor until quickly locating the socks I had slipped off the night before. With both socks gripped between two fingers, I pulled my arm back under the covers and sealed the sheets behind it to again happily enjoy pure warmth again. Although, as soon as I maneuvered to carefully reach down to slip on the first sock, it was as if a block of ice slid down my back. Cold air rushed in from all directions forever destroying my delicate, warm haven I so wished I could have enjoyed for only a few more minutes longer. Frustrated, I threw off all sheets, and put my socks on anyway.
The rather brief warming trend had come to an abrupt end as I was thunderstruck while glancing out the window and watching snow fall upon the already snow-covered buildings and cars. Did I miss something here? Hey McFly, did we go back to the past rather than back to the future? My initial thoughts were that I absolutely had not heard any news pertaining to the coming of snow nor did there appear to be any forewarning the night before when some of us Gimponians went out for drinks. Seoul and the majority of its surrounding areas had been snow-free for almost two months, and yet, on Korean Independence Day, when most of everyone was off from work, it was snowing. It clearly resembled and felt like the deep freeze of December, and after double-checking the calendar I was wrenched from my utter disbelief and brought back to the here-and-now solemnly disenchanted at the sight of the cold and caliginous early March morning.
I messaged Wynne, “Are we still on for today?”
Apparently Wynne must have realized the dramatic change in weather as well, because a few moments later my phone sounded with a responding text message, “I don’t know, let me talk to Brooke.”
While cooking cinnamon french toast with bananas, I participated in a back-and-forth montage of messages, fervently mentioning that the unforeseen snow should not destroy our hiking plans. Not before long it was finally agreed upon that we all would meet Brooke at Dongnimmun Station and go from there. Snow could not stop us!
After dressing myself in several layers and lacing up my new black hiking boots Mom had sent me for Christmas, I met up with Wynne and we were soon on our way. Upon our arrival we were accompanied by Boo Young, and Brooke, the hiking planner.
Almost as soon as Brooke arrived, we realized the bus needed to take us to the proposed hiking trail was passing us by and we began our first sprint of the day successfully reaching and boarding the bus. When we reached the chosen hiking trail, it was closed for some apparent reason, which forced us to whimsically chose another trail that was up the road a ways through a long, windy traffic tunnel. When we reached the end of the tunnel, we realized that we were at the inception of another trail that led to one of the locally famous peaks within Bukhansan National Park.
After a quick discussion, we said, “Why not?”
And so our hiking began up a rocky trail amid snow-covered hillsides laden with trees that hampered the intensity of the harsh, icy breezes from numbing our faces.
Not before long after somewhat skewing off trail in hopes to add a sense of uncertainty to our hiking adventure, we intersected another trail that led us to Korean hiking party. We attempted to pass by nonchalantly, but were immediately invited to join them, and to our surprise, were somewhat forcefully escorted to partake in their festivities.
The hiking party was very generous, essentially offering us all we could eat and drink, and drink, I mean Makkoli. I drank a few glasses of Makkoli with some of the hard-core hikers and soon felt the effects that thankfully wore off before we began our hike up the mountain again. However, despite the initial effects, it also gave me a massive boost of energy and I can see why many Korean hikers bring along some Makkoli with them.
Thus, after our share of food and makkoli, we said our farewells and headed back up the mountain.
The trails and skies were filled with a cold, misty dew that made it difficult to see across the terrain and didn’t give much of a spectacular view, but we were able to reach the top of the peak overcoming a myriad of dangers amid climbing over steep, jagged rocks and avoiding slipping along icy paths. We mastered a tough trek with flying colors!
It was then on our way back down the mountain that the sun finally decided to peek through the thick clouds and give us a few moments of sunny solace that we all were dearly awaiting.
It was truly a hike to remember, not solely for its consistent difficulty, but also for the great company of friends that shared this journey.
I hope for many more hikes to come…