As with most SHG "owl" trips, I was picked up in Jukjeon around midnight on Friday night, en route to what would be the longest hike of my life thus far. While waiting for the bus, I met another foreigner going on the same trip. An avid and experienced hiker equipped with all the coolest gear (including a GPS), he warned me that the previous year, their group had not been able to complete the hike due to time constraints. Needless to say, that got me a little worried. Here is this seasoned "mountain goat" telling me, a casual beginner, that he was unable to do the hike I had just signed up for... this should be interesting. Of course, I had to keep in mind that he was signed up for the 24km course, so he had much more terrain to cover than I did.
|The peak looked like it was so far away at the beginning|
|The sun coming out to greet us|
|Pagoda at the temple|
|Only 0.8km to go|
|The lead group warriors|
When we started to get going again, I decided to get to the front of the pack and join the lead group. By this time, I was feeling extremely good. We had already hiked close to 5km and my muscles were loose and ready for some more action. With every step, I took in a deep breath of fresh air and kept moving up and up and up, keeping a pretty fast pace. By the time we reached the peak, our group had distanced itself from the rest of the pack by about 20-30 minutes. Along with Claire, Katie, Se Rok, David and Warren, we enjoyed an elongated rest while taking in some fuel as well as many pictures of the amazing panoramas.
|The last stretch was the worst|
|I can see it!! I can see it!!|
|The second group down below|
|Hiking the ridge|
|The last shelter before the descent|
|we were promised some falls... this is what we got|
|Fortunately, there were more later as we followed the stream all the way down|
At one point, we decided to stop and dip our feet in the ice cold water. I also took the opportunity to go in knee deep and rub out my legs before putting in my whole head to freshen up. That was exactly the jolt that was needed to get us back on track. The last 2km was pretty easy and leveled, which made it much easier on our legs. The green forest around us was also in its full summer dress and rendered our walk a picturesque affair. And thus it was when we reached the end of the road! As I had promised myself, I bought two beers which I then proceeded to consume immediately. The sweet nectar quenched my thirst in ways that water simply couldn't at this point. What was more, we technically completed the hike in as much time as the rest of the group finished the 13km course. Only Warren and a few others had dared to follow us on the 16km course and they arrived almost an hour later. So overall, we felt quite a sense of accomplishment with our 11-hour hike! Once everyone had convened at the bus, we left for Hadong, where we would spend the night and the next day exploring the Green Tea Festival.
|The "winning" team after the hike. we didn't actually win anything|
The next morning after breakfast, we visited the Hadong Green Tea Festival where we learned how to make tea, participated in a traditional tea ceremony and rode some really weird robot slaves. Overall, it was really fun despite being a little tacky. For lunch, I enjoyed a delicious pajeon, which is a seafood pancake or omelet, before heading back to the bus. Next, Warren took us to a famous market that sits on the border of two southern Korean provinces before making our final stop at the Cheese Theme park where we ate some delicious pizza with fresh cheese (a delicacy in Korea) and even got to make our very own mozzarella to take home (I ate mine on the bus)! Another loooonnnng bus ride home ensued, but, reflecting on my weekend, it had been completely worth it! This trip was another great success and one that I will remember for a long time!
|Let's make some tea|
|"T" = tea|
|creepy but fun robot slaves|
|It's a race! with John|
|Cheese making fun!|