This past weekend I somehow agreed to go on a hiking trip to Jirisan (지리산) : the mainland’s highest mountain, which pretty much means the highest mountain in South Korea: 1915 meters/6,283 feet. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but figured it would be fun, and I only thought about how hard it was to go up, not down… We left Saturday morning and 2 taxi fares and 2 bus rides later we were at the mountain. I was ready to go with my mini backpack filled with only Gatorade and food. We started off pretty well, there were 11 of us, so everyone split up and went at their own paces. I figured I would be with the slowest group the whole time, considering I don’t do a whole lot of hiking. My excuse was “There are no mountains in Florida!” Anyways, I surprised myself and broke off from the group to go a little bit faster. I met up with a few others from the group a few times, but I was by myself most of the time going up, which was actually kind of nice. Everyone met at the shelter that we were staying in, which was a little more than halfway to the very top. I was exhausted and very excited to rent my used blanket and sleep on the hard floor.
The next morning a few of us woke up early to watch the sunrise and to continue to hike to the peak. It was all going pretty well, until I got about halfway up and I started to realize that we would have to come down this same way. This trail to the peak was about 2 hours long and was straight up, if that gives any perspective on what is was like. It wasn’t just a dirt trail either, it was giant rocks that had to be climbed. So I finally made it to the peak after falling behind from pure panic of having to go down. The top was absolutely beautiful, but I honestly didn’t enjoy any of it, because all I could think about was going down. If I’m not in a harness or secure in an airplane or something I am really afraid of heights. So let’s just say going down the mountain was one of the scariest things I’ve done. I thought I was going to fall and then just keep tumbling down. I went down on my butt on the really steep parts. Oh and the mini frozen waterfalls along the rocks didn’t really help either.
Mickey, one of the Korean teachers at our school stayed with me, because she was taking it pretty slow too. We ended up walking the whole way down together, and she taught me a new Korean word that sums up the whole trip: Chuketta!! (It’s killing me!)