so, yesterday we attempted for the fourth time to take the right bus to Muduengson Mountain. The 50 took us there in under fifteen minutes. At the base of the mountain is a parking lot, bathrooms and a few camping stores. We arrived a little before one in the afternoon and many of the Koreans were finishing their trek. I wore jean shorts, a tank top and hiking shoes (at least I owned those). Adam had on gym shorts, a tshirt, our tiny backpack and sneakers. We packed some almonds, two water bottles, two protein bars and some plums. Coming from Florida, neither of us had climbed a mountain before. Really, truly, in our minds, we had no idea that climbing a mountain, meant CLIMBING A MOUNTAIN.
I have really been busting my butt at the gym the last two weeks and I was able to tell a difference in our upward climb, at first. The beginning of the climb is a paved road with lots of little stores on the side, ajummas selling veggies and popcicle vendors. I had a popsicle and we bowed our heads and “annya haseyo” ed all the Koreans.
After the initial uphill road climb, the signs pointed up and to the right and we saw ahead of us some stairs, brush and a not well marked path, but the Korean’s pointed for us to go up that way, and they are all very honest people, so up we went, and this was the beginning of well, the hardest workout/ mental “yes you can do it, keep going, you can’t go back” three hours of my life. After the stairs, there became nothing but crag like rock paths. Once in awhile we came upon some wooden stairs, I guess the crags may have washed away, but the majority of the climb was anywhere from 4 inch high to 2 feet high steps up a pretty steep path. At one point, I had Adam sing the song from Rocky, then I heard this buzzing and it kept getting louder, I yelled at him to shut up because he couldn’t hear my whisper and we looked above us, there was a swarm of some insect. Lets just say running up 18 inch crags screaming high pitched girly sounds…us Meegooks really stood out from the locals. After climbing for about an hour, we ran into a family. The father was carrying the little girl in a backpack up the mountain and the other little girl was climbing herself, she must have been 4. Adam had already ran ahead (he swore that running up it is easier, whereas I had to will my legs to lift each time). So, the little girl and I climbed the last bit together and we were all rewarded with the most beautiful sound. A man yelling, ICE KEE! (ice cream, korean style) So, yes we each downed another melon pop. But, we had hit the first ridge. I have no idea how high we were, but the view was magical. We were definitely not at the top, but we were able to see so far. The greenery on the other mountains in the near distance, you were able to see Gwangju nestled in between the hills.
Adam and I decided to keep going. I couldn’t comprehend why we would only climb halfway, even though we were soaked in sweat and our bodies were crying. So, up the mountain we went. Three different stops along this trail allowed us to scoop water out of a mountain stream to refill our water bottles. Koreans stopped us twice to feed us, tomatoes, peaches and powerade. I guess we looked like we weren’t going to make it. We did not see much wildlife except for the buzzing mosquito like things above us a few times.
When the locals climb the mountain I think they take all day, literally. Decked out in their gear, which I now wish we had, they stop every few thousand feet for a rest, snack and to stretch.
Anyway, up the last stretch we go and come out into a clearing. It was a huge area that we thought was the top of the mountain, until we saw people still climbing up. After much deliberation, because at this point, we were both dead tired, we decided that it didn’t look that far and “other people were doing it.” So on we went for the last time. We ended up at the top of the mountain. There are huge rectangular rocks at the top of the mountain made out of volcanic lava. All of the small rocks on this part of the mountain are a rainbow of colors, purples, blues and magenta’s. I would imagine that this too was from the lava from the meso something time period.
The view from the top was unexplainable. You will have to check out the video we took from the top so you can see for yourself. The video does not pick up the full effect, but you will get the idea.http://www.youtube.com/get_player
It is said that Mt. Muduengson looks over the city of Gwangju like a proud grandfather. The mountain is famous for its tea grown here and the mountain grown watermelon that used to be a favorite gift for royalty.
Just as we understood the full effect of being at the summit of a mountain, I think the gods were laughing at us and it began to rain. Actually, it began to pour cats and dogs.
What else do you do, when you are at the top of a mountain in the pouring rain, without rain gear or a tent, you climb down.
When we got down to the first clearing, we thought the map said to go to the right to get down the mountain. This was not true, we ended up at the end of the road, but we had a spectacular view which offered some great pictures. We did pass two korean men in the ditch on the side of the road with their shirts off (which is unheard of here in Korea). I swore they screamed, “Not Gay.” Anyway, at this point we decided to go back the way we came, in the pouring rain, with no rain gear. We were SOAKED. I slipped four times and fell on my rear, Adam kept slipping but somehow always ended up on his feet, even though he looked really funny saving his fall with one leg in the air. We couldn’t really hear each other through the pelting rain, but every once in awhile one of us would yell out a mini screech. There were these HUGE frogs which were camouflaged into the ground, but when they jumped, we did see them. How gross if we missed one and stepped on it..ugh.
Anyway, when we got to the ridge and about to turn onto the path we took up, there was huge yellow tape that said, “no approaching.” so we took a different path down the mountain. The rain finally stopped and we ran into a nice Korean couple who said they would walk with us down to the bus area. Well, we began our journey with them, stopped a few times for snacks, and eventually made it to the bottom. Little did we know, that it was not the same bottom we had started at. We were on the completely other side of the mountain.
The couple bought a bottle of rice wine they shared with us and we all got on a bus. They had invited us to dinner, but I think when they realized how wet we were and where we lived they let us go. We got off the bus and decided to take a taxi home. It was almost 8 pm. We were so tired, so wet, so cold and so hungry.
All in all, if you are thinking of coming to visit us, Mt.Muduengson is something we must do. So kick your butt into shape (I know I have too or else I will be the one looking like a fool).
Enjoy the pictures.