01 October 2008
Before Saturday's trek we'd heard anecdotally that Koreans like to hike "straight up" and that there's no such thing as switchbacks on the trails here. I understand what they mean now, in the way that only someone who has climbed straight up a mountain without the use of switchbacks can understand.
Our afternoon was one of those sprawling physical quests where after you've poured so much effort into the attempt, regardless of the mounting feeling of impossibility, you just keep going. Putting foot after foot on the stone steps leading up, up, up. Smiling with hope at the people coming back down the trail, looking to them for some sort of inspiration or at least a raised fist and a shout of Korea's national mantra, "Fighting!"
We just kept going up and up, until we reached that top. And once we got there we shared a Gatorade toast, a great view, and the realization that going straight down probably wasn't going to be so easy either.