One beautiful September morning, we headed out on the subway to Bukhansan National Park to tackle the challenging hike to Baegundae Peak. As our destination grew closer, the subway filled with more and more Koreans wearing high-tech hiking clothing and carrying hiking poles and other trendy gear. When we got off the subway, we all laughed at the sight of the many Koreans in hiking gear standing in line to ride the escalator (we took the stairs). Though once we were well into the hike, we understood that perhaps saving themselves even an extra 20 steps was probably worth it!
There was a crazy long line of hikers for the bus, and since the buses arriving didn’t match the numbers of the buses I had written down to look for (despite all the hikers getting on them, making me pretty sure my numbers were wrong), we decided to grab a taxi and spent a grand total of ₩5,000 to get to the park entrance. Much better than a packed bus traveling 10 different stops!
It was definitely a challenging hike – quite steep in parts and plenty of steps built in along the way. I was expecting it to be wall-to-wall people the whole time and was thankful it wasn’t that crowded once we got moving. The scenery was gorgeous, although I didn’t see that much of it because I was focused on putting one foot in front of the next as I slogged my way up the mountain.
Near the top, we saw rock climbers on a nearby peak. The last bit of the climb up to Baegundae peak was pretty rough, with steel cables attached to the rock to help you pull yourself up. Next time I’ll take gloves for that bit!
Finally, we made it! We were rewarded with awesome views, a great feeling of accomplishment, and the delicious lunch we had packed – PB&Js made with Stonewall Kitchen Wild Blueberry jam (so happy the PX has added a tiny Stonewall Kitchen section!).
Coming down, we (I) decided to take a random blogger’s advice and go a different way. And we may have misinterpreted a sign or two. 11-ish miles after starting that morning, we were down off the mountain in a pretty, more isolated area.
Weary but content, we finally found our bus and made our tired, sore, aching way home.
My calves may have felt like someone was stabbing them with knives for the next five days, but it was totally worth it! I can’t wait to hike again when the fall foliage is in force.