Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gayasan National Park

For some reason I still think that I should be in the same shape I was in while I was in college. I was used to going hiking a few times a week, dancing for hours at a time, and doing yoga regularly. I seem to think that the four years I spent sitting on my butt and drinking beer in Minneapolis had no effect on me whatsoever. So, when I was invited to go hiking with some friends over the weekend I didn't hesitate, even though the hike was considered quite strenous - after all it was only 4 km (2 and a half miles for you Yankees).

After this weekend there is one rule that I'll try not to forget for the rest of my sojourn here in Korea; that is the absence of switchbacks in this country. Nope - not a single one in the whole 4 km hike. The trail sloped up gently for a kilometer as it entered the canyon and then all at once it tilted up 60 - 80 degrees (Jason disputes my geometry) and stayed that way for the rest of the hike. The trail ran through deep mud, rock fields, and snow without any thought for the hikers on its back.

The humbling part of the experience for all of us Westerners was that there were groups of 70 year old Koreans happily climbing up and down the trail. And not just one or two groups - but many, many groups of people over 50 years old. Yep! I'm out of shape.

When we got down from the mountain everyone's legs were quivering from exhaustion. My feet were sweaty and uncomfortable in my boots so I had the brilliant idea to wash them in the sink. The first foot was a success - it was the second one that finished me off. My damp foot on the tile floor wasn't able to hold me up while my legs were still weak. I went down hard. On the way down I hit my head on a water spicket attached to the wall. In less than a minute a goose egg had formed on the back of my head. So then I was limping from the pain in my knees, the quivering in my legs, the deep bruise sure to bloom on my left butt cheek, and the incessent throbbing in my head.

When I left the Park I didn't feel like a 30 year old should after an exhilarating hike - I felt like a 30 year old that was beaten with a baseball bat and barely let go with her life intact.

I'm going to start a new workout regimen this week - I promise.

All in all though it was a wonderful weekend. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was great, and for the most part the company was enjoyable.

It looked easy on the map...

but I should have listened to the bears.
Josh and I laughing and talking without any indication of what lie ahead.

it's starting to get a bit harder....

Ahhh, the mud.

In my opinoin stairs are never a good idea on a hiking trail. They make it much harder than it needs to be...unless the alternative is mud.

A much needed group break.

Up, up, up!

The top! I see it!

Nope - it wasn't the top. Just a nice resting spot (or stopping point for me).

Nice view

See - here I am...

...and Jason too.

Jackie looks thrilled as she decides to try to make it to the top.
Now that's the top - I think.
Happily skipping down the trail.

What a cute couple. :)

Now that's unsettling...
...a double yoked hard boiled egg.

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