So, the hiking trip took all day. It was about 4 hours up and 3.5 hours down. Here are some of the things I saw along the way:
A huge temple near the beginning of the trail.
Nuns sitting on boulders in the stream and reading a bible near the waterfall.
Chipmunks (I mentioned this already)
Lots of different kinds of trees.
People of all different ages climbing up and down. I told one girl "Fighting!" as she pulled herself up a particularly difficult part of the trail. She really appreciated it. She was probably regretting coming up there.
Actually, the people I talked to on the mountain were really nice and friendly people. Many of them were encouraging, or just simply polite in passing. Some said, "Fighting!" while others nodded a greeting as they passed by. A few tried to chat in English or Korean. The hiking people are really kind.
My group descended down a different path from the path of ascent. The second path was full of stairs. No matter how hard I thought my journey up was, I really felt bad for anyone who chose the path of stairs. The steps were all different sizes and depths. Some stairs were man-made, while others were carved into the mountain.
As I walked, I was mesmerized by all the scenery. At some point, I thought, "Oh, what if I want to write about this in a book someday? I'd better catalogue it well in my mind." So, I started talking aloud (I was walking alone at this point of the journey), describing what I was seeing. I really didn't have time to sit and stare at everything like I wanted, but if it was along the way, I made a note about it.
I'm not sure how some of the children had the energy to go up and down the mountain. I know for sure that they are capable of having more energy than an adult; still, kids can get tired from strenuous exercise. I admire those that I saw along the way.
Now, I can fully understand why someone would meditate deep in the mountains, or why someone would stand in the cold stream water (or even under the waterfall) after training. They mountains sure provide the right training ground. The right atmosphere.
I've heard that many old people in Korea like to take makkoli (rice wine) up the mountain with them and drink it (among other things) once they reach the top. Perhaps there's nothing quite like getting drunk at the top of a mountain. I was just happy to have my gatorade bottle in my bag.
'Til next time,