The mountains are calling and…
I had the opportunity to travel and live in Yangyang, South Korea. This beautiful, remote (very remote!) area is located in the northeast of Gangwon-do, about 30 minutes away from North Korea. Its location mesmerized me as it is surrounded by the East Sea and the mountains on the west.
As an amateur hiker, my passion for the sport has always drawn me to the top. I find that making it to the top of a mountain gives me hope; hope that things will turn out okay, hope that I can do quite literally anything I set my mind to. And that sense of power is everything.
During my emotionally tumultuous stay in Yangyang, I explored the beauty that surrounded me. A range of majestic mountains were easily seen from my apartment. The mountain peaks, protruding through the often foggy skies, were my fuel and I recharged every morning on my walk to work. A month later, I realized that this grand, imposing scenery was called Seoraksan National Park (설악산국립공원).
My first trip to Daecheongbong Peak was 10 kilometers long and took approximately 9 hours to complete. Daecheongbong is the highest peak in Seoraksan and the third highest peak in Korea. The journey was strenuous, physically challenging, but mentally satisfying. The trail was as fascinating as the view from the top. There were creeks along the way, rare rock formations, high mountain plants, and if you were lucky, a deer or two.
Another wonderful hike at Seoraksan was Ulsanbawi. This was my favorite one because these were the peaks I could see from my apartment. Ulsanbawi is composed of six granite peaks and the arduous 4-kilometer hike up is absolutely worth the magnificent view of this place.
In my many visits to Seoraksan, I discovered that the reason I long to be in the vicinity of mountains is because of their power to stand strong, and their capacity to give us hope. Their giving nature prompts me to appreciate the hardships, responsibilities and privileges that come along with answering their powerful call.