Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dobongsan Mountain

Last sunday, Jes and I took the 3 subways to get to Dobong station, which drops you off at the foot of Dobongsan. San stands for mountain. Hiking is a favorite pastime among Koreans, especially among the older generation...and too their credit, Korean seniors appear to be very cheerful and healthy.

The approach to the mountatin is about a 20 minute walk from the subway. As we waited for the cross walk light to change at the station we were quickly enveloped in a crowd, several thousand strong of senior Koreans. Their numbers surprised me, but more so, their outfits. These Koreans were donned in the finest alpine climbing gear to be had, titanium telescoping walking poles, 2010 hiking boots, ultra-light packs; the lightest, most breathable, nylon/wool hybrid fabrics, the most teched out shit you can get: The editor of Outdoor Mag would be proud.

I thought we were just going for a light day hike but judging by the accouterment of my peers Dobongsan might be less like Mt. Tam and more like Everest. I turned to Jes, "I think we might be seriously under-dressed for our hike." I was in all cotton: t-shirt, jeans, hoodie and tennis shoes. Aside from and REI pack, Jes wasn't any better off. She assured me that Koreans were just realllllly zealous when it came to hiking outfits.

We crossed the street. The approach to the mountain is a paved path about 30' wide, both sides lined with restuarants, food stands, and major brand gear outfitters for every letter in the alphabet. I wonder if Tibet and the Himalayas are as smothered with Helly Hansen's, North Faces', Mountain Hardwares', Berghaus's...yikes!

Maybe we we're unprepared. Maybe not. Maybe those Koreans know better. We didn't it make it more than 20 minutes up the mountain before we decided to turn around and go home. Maybe it was because it was that time of the month for Jes; maybe it was because we drank a lot the night before and danced til 2am; maybe it was the yellow dust that was blowing in from Mongolia, maybe jet-lag had caught up with us, and maybe it was just because we thought the mountain was way too fucking ugly and packed with people to be bothered with. Or, maybe it was because we didn't dress right...I guess we'll never know.

However, during that short hike we found an unbusy outcrop off of the side of the trail where several, recently restored, Korean Temples stood.