A few drinks the night before did not make for an enjoyable 8am run to the local bus station the next morning. Yet a mere thirty minutes later the bus pulled into Sobaek and we stepped into rural bliss. It made it worth getting out of bed. Sobaeksan National Park awaited.
A little bit of sunshine always puts a spring in our step and we put one foot in front of the other all the way to the peak.
There are two fantastic components that make hiking in Korea superior to elsewhere in the world. It has nothing to do the height of the mountains or the diversity of flora and fauna, both of which are minimal. I am talking about high end outdoor fashion. Nothing but the most expensive, largely neon outdoor gear. There is no gender disparity here, men and women both sport the best in hiking boots and clothing. Kate Moss, eat your heart out. While Korea may not have the world’s best hiking it does have phenomenal trail fashion. It makes hiking an easy trail feel like more of an accomplishment. It comes through the air from all the hardcore gear surrounding you. I’m sure of it.
The second thing that makes hiking in Korea so special is the Korean generosity. While not exclusive to the trail, it really is a wonderful characteristic of Korean hikers. Families will beckon you over and welcome you with open arms as you share their picnic lunch with them. Children will give you a sweet or two. Groups of male hikers will open up their tupperware containers filled with fresh fruit and fill your hands with goodies. If you’re especially lucky you may even be offered a cup of beer or soju. Then there is the two of us armed with individual snacks that have no intention of being shared. I think it’s time to change our packed lunches so we can repay the kindness we have experienced.