Mt. Yongmasan – Where a Hike Is So Much More Than Just Walking

22 Nov

A few weekends ago, when the weather was still warm enough for T-shirts and spur-of-the-moment hikes, G & I made our way to Mt. Yongmasan (용마산).

**Directions and details at bottom of post**

The Yongmasan trail was supposed to be a straightforward 2 hours of mindless hiking fun, but it actually turned out to be so much more…

So what exactly did this hike entail?

1.  Cardiac Arrest

At the beginning of the trail, I made the mistake of declaring to G that I wanted a LAZY hike.  None of that sprinting up the mountain- like we usually do. So, in order to set a slow and steady pace for ourselves, I told G that we should follow behind the 70 year old ajusshi (elderly man), who was also standing at the trail-head.  He would surly be a slow walker, right? WRONG!

Next thing I know, I’m freaking running to keep up with this old man!  (Meanwhile G is having the laugh of his life.)  After about 15 minutes of  following the pace of Mr. Speedy Gonzales Kim himself, I nearly fainted.  Some visual evidence:

I know what you are thinking, “She is totally posing for this photo.” INCORRECT!  I was seriously on the verge of passing out.   You can tell because in the second picture taken, I am still too embarrassed to show my face, but you will notice my stomach sweat… which is clearly a sign of distress.

2. Alcoholic Picnic

If you are like me, you believe that the key to a successful hike is: (a) Nice Views (b) Good/Challenging Trail (c) A High Caliber Picnic (and not necessarily in that order).  Koreans seem to agree, as they take their hikes and their mid-hike picnics very seriously…

But lucky for me (and you), they take their drinking even more seriously.  That’s why, on the peaks of most mountain trails, you can find a makeshift outdoor bar, selling Makgeolli, the delicious Korean rice wine.

And for those hikers who nearly lost their lives in “an uphill battle” following the pace of an elderly man – a few cups of rice wine can really rejuvenate the spirits.

3. Ice Cream Party

We walked, we talked,

we saw some views…

But nothing was as exciting as spotting the ice cream man (seriously) at the vista point at the top of the mountain.

4.  The New Workout Plan

Actually, wait, I should take back that last statement – nothing was as exciting as eating our ice cream while watching other people work-out at the exercise park, which magically appeared along the trail.

5.  New Friendships

I guess that watching other people exercise must have been really exhausting because next thing we knew, G & I had stopped paying attention to the trail signs and got totally lost.  Luckily, the mountain was filled with hikers and we stopped a few strangers to ask for directions.

One particularly nice Korean man took pity on us (foolish white-folk) and decided to lead us all the way down the mountain.

And as we walked, a small love developed between the man with the yellow hat shirt & G.

G shared stories about his life in broken Korean, while the man with the yellow shirt shared his food.

You can bet that I was pretty happy with this arrangement.  Rice cakes, sweet potatoes and corn?  I’ll take it!

6.  Shoe Shine

It’s like the hike that keeps on giving, right?!  Well, get this, at the bottom of the mountain, the man with the yellow shirt instructed us to stand in line to clean our shoes…

Does hiking get better than this?

Oh yes, just wait.

7.  Children’s Grand Park

When we had finally reached the end of the trail, G & the man with the yellow shirt had a harder-than-expected time bidding adieu to one another.  (Cue Juliet, “Parting is such sweet sorrow…” No joke.) So, instead of hopping on the metro back home, like we had planned, the man with the yellow shirt insisted on taking us to one last adventure – a walk through the neighboring, Children’s Grand Park.

You just can’t make these things up.

We went to the botanical gardens & the zoo…

and now you understand what I mean when I said- it was so much more than a hike.

***

DIRECTIONS:

The best photo by photo directions can be found HERE.

Also, here are the directions per the Visit Korea site: Take Subway Line 7 to Yongmasan Station (Exit 2) → Walk into the entrance of Hanshin Apartments, and walk ahead → Go up the stairs next to the pavilion and take a right past the playground to an exercise facility → Next to the facility, go up the stairs behind the wired fence.

We followed the Visit Korea directions and got lost before reaching the actual hike.  I know, it’s a gift.  In case you find yourself in the same situation (walking aimlessly out of  Exit 2 of Yongmasan Station), make sure to be on the lookout for a sign like this:

Then just go up the stairs,

You’ll see an I Park Building in front of you, and just keep on walking along the trail until you reach a number of steep steps – which will lead you directly to the trail-head.

ENJOY!

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One Response to “Mt. Yongmasan – Where a Hike Is So Much More Than Just Walking”

  1. Jayne February 9, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Korean’s are def serious about their hiking and yes, the drinking..

    This is soo cute 🙂

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