Despite growing up at the base of the Catskill Mountains, I hated hiking as a child. I climbed Mohonk a few times with the Girl Scouts and my family, but that was really the extent of my hiking. I think I was just too grossed out by nature and sweat and humidity (none of those are unreasonable). So yes, I hated hiking. That is, until I moved to Seoul. Well, technically seven months after I moved to Seoul.

My friends James and Jeanette are two of the most outdoorsy people I know. If James has a couple spare periods, he’ll go for a quick hike just because he can. I don’t have that determination, but I really admire it. A couple weeks ago, the two of them led a group of us up the mountain in SEV’s backyard. (There is literally a mountain in my backyard that you can see on any day it’s not obscured by yellow dust. Oh, Asia.) I felt as though I was going to die on that damn hike. Since coming to Seoul, I’d given up on virtually any form of exercise, save for dodgeball, so I was incredibly out of shape on that climb. However, while that stupid hike kicked my ass, it also made me more determined to get back in shape. I’ve tried to go up every other day or so, though I’ve missed a few days due to weather, other plans, sheer laziness, etc. Climbing up to this viewing spot, high above Suyu, continues to a pain in the ass. But once I collapse on the rock in sheer exhaustion, I’m left with a stunning view of Suyu and Mia. The only sounds are the birds chirping and the rustling of other climbers.  It is very rare to have a few hours uninterrupted by car horns, bus screeches or the blaring megaphone of some street vendor.

It’s been raining non-stop since I woke up this morning, but part of me is desperately hoping the weather clears up by tomorrow. I need the view and the moments of clarity that come with it.

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Monastery near the beginning of the trail

Monastery near the beginning of the trail

Line of lotus lanterns at the monastery

Line of lotus lanterns at the monastery

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