Once Upon a Hike in Korea

Once upon a time, in the far-off country of Korea, lived a man named David who liked to hike. One Thursday, the government said that there would be a holiday to honor soldiers who died in war, so David decided to go hiking. The weather was hot, but he decided to go on a course of four mountain peaks. First he assembled his inventory.

He brought:

– 3 liters of drink (+4 to Life)

– a Snickers bar (+2 Energy, +2 Yum)

– triangle kimbap (see blog post on Tuesday) (+2 Health)

– peanut butter jam sandwich (+1 Health, +1 Cheap)

David also brought his trusty Staff of Walking (+2 Hiking, +3 Attack versus spiderwebs) and put on his magical Boots of Hiking. They were 16 years old, so while this gave him +2 to Nostalgia, they also made him -3 resistance versus blisters forming. You can’t have everything in life.

David took a crowded bus to a nearby valley that was green on all sides. He started at a temple at the base of the first mountain.

1

The initial climb was brutal. The weather was hot and the air was still and sweat stung his eyes. Still, he pushed on and the slope gradually leveled out to a nice path between tall trees. Nearer the top, there were breezes that cooled him a little.

Hiking in Korea 2

An hour later, he got to the top of the first mountain, Jongnamsan. So far, he had seen no people.

Hiking in Korea 3

The path between the first and second mountains was much easier. For most of it, David walked along on a level, shady forest path. Here, there were more people (14 in all, and one dog). The second mountain peak Seobangsan was empty and barren and had a place for a helicopter to land. It was hot and David didn’t stay there long.

Hiking in Korea 4

As he started to descend, David caught a glimpse of the valley he had traveled along. The air was hazy and the distance faded out into white. The flies were becoming annoying. There were no biting flies or mosquitoes, but there were millions of flies around. There was a dull roar in the otherwise silent woods from the sound of their combined humming.

Hiking in Korea 5

The path went steeply down to a low  pass between the second and third mountains. On the way, he passed a tall stone gate that was blocking his way. Just as well it wasn’t a solstice or midnight or anything or he probably would have been whisked away to another world. On the pass between the mountains, he met a Korean couple and advised them on the routes to take, as well as informing them that the map board that was located there had been printed backwards (for some reason). Then he set off for the third mountain peak.

Hiking in Korea 6

The third mountain was the most difficult. It was taller than the others and by this time, four hours into the hike, David was getting very tired. He struggled up the steep slope and up and over some deep clefts in the ridge until he was able to look back at where he had come from.  He saw that a narrow road was being built all around the valley. This disquieted David a lot, since the only reason he could see for it was logging and he hated to see the beautiful valley he loved so much logged and denuded.

Hiking in Korea 7

The third mountain, Seoraebong, was at the intersection of three mountain ridges and now David left the first valley and struck out onto a new ridge, an almost straight  line to the last mountain at the very end of it.

Hiking in Korea 8

This last ridge was much easier in some ways, but by this time David was very tired and his knees were hurting. Looking back, he could see the double notched ridge of the third mountain.

Hiking in Korea 9

Along the way, he passed many interesting things, like more stone cairns and towers, plus the Wood of Confused Pines. They went in all directions, as if they had had a fight when deciding what direction to grow in.

Hiking in Korea 10

Finally, David reached the final mountain peak, Ansusan. It looked over the prosperous farming region of Gosan, where newly-planted rice fields were laid out in neat rectangles as far as the eye could see.

Hiking in Korea 11

Coming down from Ansusan was much more difficult than going up the first mountain. The slope was steep rock and David had to use ropes and chains to hold onto as he went down.

The first time David went down this slope was in the dark. On Halloween.

The first time David went down this slope was in the dark. On Halloween.

 

The path kept going down steeply. After it entered the trees, the path became more dangerous, with loose rocks and fallen leaves covering everything.

Hiking in Korea 13

Finally, 8 hours after getting off the bus, David arrived at another bus terminal and waited with other hot people for a bus back to his city of Jeonju. It was a long, hot day and he was very sore and tired, but overall it was quite magical.

Hiking in Korea 14

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About David Stewart

I am a writer of anything quirky and weird. I love most genres of fiction and in each there are stories that I would consider "my kind of story". View all posts by David Stewart

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