The hills are alive with the sound of old Korean people passing me on this mountain trail…

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So today marks the last week of winter camp.

This week is 5/6 grader-my comfort zone.

I have 4 girls which is small but I really enjoy it. I can give them the attention they need and it feels less formal.

Two of the students I know and two are new but the levels are really good so I expect a good camp.

It helps that we all love KPOP . I have one EXO fan, two BTS fans…and one who likes everything I think.

 

Now my weekend…where do I begin.

I wanted to keep myself busy so I wouldn’t dwell on packing/getting ready for USA/missing Logan.

I met my friend Ashley who I wanted to see before I left in Hongdae for lunch and then we wound up going to COEX.

I had to buy my one friend EXO Lay stuff so we went to the SM Town store where I bought her and…uh..myself…some stuff.

If you haven’t been it’s pretty awesome. If you like any SM artist you will enjoy the store or even if you just like KPOP it’s good fun. The different levels have the merch store, KPOP experience, SM cafe, theater.

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Chanyeol third wheeling like a boss…everyone wants the D…O… myself included

In the cafe you can buy different drinks (used to be ades but now have changed to juice with larger and better quality bottles) depending on flavor or your favorite group.  They are now bigger and cost a little more but you get to keep the bottle. I bought EXO apple juice which…of all the lines to put on the bottle “Shawty I’m a party to the sun down”….really? One of Sehun’s two lines?

 

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Can I steal Chen and Kai?

We also went into the actual mall itself which stresses me out. It’s too big, too crowded. I’m not someone who usually gets overwhelmed by crowds but COEX is it’s own beast.

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Still has the beautiful Christmas decorations up

We got Garrets popcorn and then sat for a while.

On Sunday I had made plans to hike up Gwanggyosan. My one friend backed out the night before. I admit I was a little annoyed because she had a few days notice and still chose to wander around Seoul on Saturday and then text me she had walked too much.

I don’t like to trash people behind their backs-I don’t say anything that I wouldn’t be prepared to say to their face.  But I was annoyed-if you know you are going to go hiking, wouldn’t it make sense not to go wander around for hours in Seoul shopping the day before?

I also know that not everyone can push their bodies (or want to) but as long as I’m not in determinantal physical pain, I  would honor my plans.  Also it was the second week in a row that she bailed on me. The previous week we were supposed to be going to Yongsan to watch Star Wars in 4DX which she said she wanted to go with me so I held off until we could go together.

 

I’m not mad and I’ve let it go for the most part, but I learned that I can’t rely on some people to do the things I want.

If I want to hike up the mountain, I’m going to do it. You can come along but if not, I’m not going to wait for you.

It might sound selfish but I don’t want to waste my time having to need other people to make me happy or have plans. I don’t  think that’s a healthy way to live. I’m not saying I will be a loner!

I’m just stating that my happiness and plans shouldn’t be affected by if people show up or not. I’m going to do what I want to do and I’m not going to let people hold me back.

 

Now that part of the rant is over..onto Sunday.

 

I woke up early because I had read up online that it could take up to 3 hours to climb up to the top which isn’t bad . But I already live about 45 minutes away from suwon (bus to the station, subway both included) if I use the rapid train which I do.

I got to Suwon Station around 1045 and went to ask the same nice man about how to get to Gwanggyosan. He gave me a map all in korean but luckily I read enough to understand. If not, just look for matching letters when you are hiking.

It’s actually very easy.

From Suwon Station take bus 13 and ride it all the way until the end. It puts you at the bottom of trail 4 which is short and good.

But I chose to do a longer one and got off before.  The stop’s name I don’t remember but it’s “Gwanggyosan”…something. But basically it’s about 15 minutes away from the station. It’s also up a hill. There will be the resviour on the left hand side.

Also a lot of hikers get off at this stop to take trail number 1 which is the longest-12ish KM.

 

I got off at this stop and I will take you through my trail.

 

After you get off the bus you cross the road and go straight across the bridge. There is an option to turn right which I think it more of a path, and it’s also shorter as well. I chose to go straight.

Just follow the signs that keep you straight on the path. Some signs take you up the hill and I guess if you are looking for a more difficult path you can take that but as I wasn’t sure where I was going I chose to do the easier path. Also I knew what was ahead.

When you reach the end of the trail, there will be a bridge that you cross . I stopped to use the bathroom because who knew where the next bathroom would be (actually they are on the map and the next one wasn’t for a while).

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Map

 

 

All in all trail 10 took about 45 minutes I think. Now, when that trail ends, you will come to a main road. Turn left and go under the underpass. If you follow along on the map you have to walk a little about 5 minutes. You will pass a cute small town with restaurants, and a bus stop.

When you have reach the edge of the town, there will be a bridge with a “stream” underneath (it was dry ) but it shows you on the map that trail 3 starts there. You cross the street and walk down the path.

Now it seems a little strange because it’s kind of a residential farming area and for a long time I was convinced that I was lost. But you will start to see hikers coming down that path. It’s a bit of a walk before you get to the actual trail. I think there was one fork in the road and you should keep to the left.

Like I said if you can’t find where you should go, cars/hikers will be coming down and just kind follow the direction they are coming from.

You will even pass these cool mini trees like on your right.

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Cute mini trees

Then you will walk up a little hill where you will see cars parked and a bathroom.  There will be a small lake. Stay to the left and walk down the path.

There will be a path going to the left that starts up the hill. A very nice older man helped me, and pointed me in the right direction. When I told him I wanted to go the summit he clearly was shocked and told me to be careful.

This path…I was told it was the more difficult path because it was mostly trail. Unlike a few other trails, it didn’t have that many stairs or hay paths.

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The goal…

It was tiring at times and even a little scary I will admit. I’m not a person who is afraid of heights but there was a section where the path was so narrow that I crouched down and held onto the trees tightly.

Now the path does get steep at times and this is where having those hiking poles I’m sure come in handy. Luckily there are rope handles that I used to help pull myself up as well.

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May not look at that bad..but it was never ending…

When you do finally reach the top there will be a bench that you can rest on. There was a ton of clementine peel on the ground so I too ate some I had brought with me and relaxed.

 

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Not even near the top yet…

Now this was a lucky break/I guess I have decent direction-you could choose to go left or right. There isn’t a sign . I gave a guess and chose to go right-and I was correct.

I met a few hikers along the way who I double checked with to make sure I was going in the right direction and asked where I was on the map.

They were very friendly and nice.

I also learned not to ask myself “how much higher can I go” because it was never ending…

After hiking for a little big more I came to an “intersection” which was crowded with people eating and resting. The path/staircase to the left was trail 4 which is the most common one and the shortest one was well.

Then I started on my final ascent. This was one of the hardest parts of the hike. There were many rocks and slightly narrow edges. Hiking up was hard just because it was steep and became tiring -I think there were 2 really big climbs before reaching the top.

I didn’t really take in much of the view because I was tired and wondering about how to get down and get home. Next time I will spend more time.

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Top…

 

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582 doesn’t sound very tall does it?

Now I almost made the error of going in the wrong direction.I asked a male hiker who asked another male hiker if they best way to get to the bus was to just go back the way I came…which is was. I almost walked down another way, but corrected myself with the help of the two hikers and wound up just retracing my steps.

The hike back to the intersection…sucked. If going up was hard, coming down was just scary. When I got back to the intersection, I went down the never ending staircase and felt more relaxed about not being stranded on the mountain.

If I had more time I might have tried to go back the way I came, but since it was my first long hike (Sunrise peak, the small suwon fortress mountain, namsan don’t really count ) my legs were ready to give out and I wanted to make sure I got down because it became darker-I don’t see well in the dark.

But the initial climb did my legs in. Going down that long staircase had my quads 40 degress of shaky for the better part of 30 minutes. It wasn’t they were tired or sore..it was past that-they just weren’t stable.

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This hellish staircase I’m glad I went down instead of up…I would have died…

It was a fast/short hike down. If you’re looking for a short hike this would be a great choice-but if you’re like me and despise stair climbing, then perhaps a different trail. It’s strange, I don’t mind steep hills but stairs just suck.

After you get to the bottom you stay to the left of the pond-I think you can go right across the bridge but I’m not sure where it goes…

 

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Cute pond to end the hike I heard there are huge goldfish…but if it’s frozen…what happens to the fish?

And you will continue to follow the path all the way down to the bus station.

Now the bus was strange because it was numbered 13 but it became another bus number so we had to get off and wait for another bus to take us to the Suwon Station. Luckily two girls sitting next to me said they were going as well so I could just get on the same bus as them.

I grabbed a hot cup of milk tea latte at the station and then even manage to catch the rapid train back to pyeongtaek.

So that was my insane Sunday.  It finished with me sprinting to catch my bus, not caring how much my ondol floor cost and take a 30 minute nap on the warm floor, hanging out with my friend Hye Jung 혜정 for an hour outside.

We usually see each other one a week but right now she is commuting to Yonsei in Sinchon, Seoul M-F….she gets up at 510am and gets back home at 11pm…

She will hopefully get her room soon so she doesn’t have to have such a hard commute.

I hate that we won’t be able to meet as often but she did say if I ever need now I have a room in Seoul.

I really love spending time with her. I consider her one of my best friends here in Korea so it sucks that she will be moving to Seoul.

I will say when I woke up this morning I could feel before I even moved that the below the waist…almost everything was sore. I was expecting soreness but my knees and ankles were surprising. My glutes and quads are probably the most sore. It feels like I completed an intense leg day which I kind of did.

I would suggest for someone who maybe isn’t sure of themselves hiking alone or just hiking in general or not in great shape (hey we’ve all been there) that taking the bus to trail 4 is going to be your best bet .

Nothing kills your confidence or what shape you think you’re in as much as when these 70 year old Koreans casually climb up without stopping, with their arms behind their back as if they are strolling along the lake side.  I easily was one of the youngest people I saw. There were a few 30 year old men, some kids but the majority had to be at least 40+. But at least all the old men seemed to like me…which sounds creepier than I mean it to be.

I hope you enjoy it!

I can’t believe I only have 4 more days of camp and then on Saturday I will be leaving for the USA for 2 weeks.

2 weeks where I don’t have to do anything….can’t wait!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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