hiking

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure # 36: Hiking in Charlotte

This past weekend was our first real weekend in Columbia. So naturally, we left town. 🙂

Some of our best friends live in Charlotte which is only 1.5 hours form Columbia. Since it was Labor Day Weekend and there was no work or school on Monday we headed to Charlotte on Sunday afternoon after attending our first church service in Columbia. (It was an Anglican church, so that was new, but more on that later).

After arriving in Charlotte we joined our friends and the four of us piled into the car and headed to Crowders Mountain, the closest hiking spot in the area. It was a 45 min – 1 hr drive to the trail head.

The trail was gentler than most of the Korean hikes we’re used to, which was fortunate since the Dunn clan isn’t in peak physical condition these days. After about an hour we made it to the top and enjoyed the view. While it was a much smaller mountain with a lower elevation than the ones around Daegu (a measly 1,624 ft), the air was much clearer which made for a better view.

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We loved being able to hop in the car and see our friends who we’ve missed so much over the past two years. We also loved getting to do some hiking which was one of our favorite activities in Korea.

After hiking we went back to Brandon and Christy’s house where we had dinner together with Bill and Jordan, a couple they’ve become close to while we’ve been gone but who we’d never met before. (Spoiler: They were totally great). After dinner we played a pretty intense game of Funglish (I’m still convinced the boys were totally cheating) that went on into the wee hours of the night, mainly because we girls were so infuriated that the boys kept getting the easiest cards and we refused to admit defeat.

We didn’t get home til 2 AM which felt wild and crazy for someone like me who is normally in bed by 10 if not before, but it was well worth it. We deeply missed sharing life with our friends while we were gone and we want to take full advantage of being so close to them now.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few. If you missed last week’s adventure about my epic roommate reunion you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure #28: Hiking Palgongsan, Featuring Lawrence the Slug

One thing we love about Korea is the mountains. I grew up in Louisiana which is so flat, part of it is actually below sea level, and hubby grew up in Indiana, which is possible even flatter. When we lived in North Carolina we loved that the land had a roll to it with lots of small hills and there were real mountains within an hour’s drive or so. Here in Daegu, we live in a geographic bowl surrounded on all sides by mountains. You can see them any direction you look and you can hike most of them. When we move back to the US we’ll be in South Carolina which might have a few hills, but doesn’t have mountains, and I know we will really miss seeing them every day.

On Saturday we went hiking at Palgongsan which is the tallest mountain in the Daegu area. We’ve only hiked to the summit once since it takes a solid 4 hours to do, but thankfully there are lots of smaller ridges and peaks you can hike to more easily and still get a nice view.

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The view from the highest place we climbed to.

We decided to go on Saturday because it had rained during the week and was supposed to rain again on Sunday so we wanted to take advantage of our window of opportunity. What we didn’t realize was that all of that rain made it unbearably humid and sweat was dripping from our fingers and elbows and noses within minutes.

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Apart from the heat and humidity, the hike we did wasn’t too strenuous and there were some temples and shrines along the way that we could stop at.

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We took my parents to this temple when they visited last year and at the time it was decorated with lanterns for Buddha’s birthday.

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The ubiquitous rock pile.

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A jillion tiny Buddhas! Dreams do come true!

We originally intended to continue on across a ridge to get to another peak, but as we headed that direction it started to thunder. Thunderstorms are extremely unusual here (at least down in the city) so we figured we should probably get off the mountain before it hit.

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We did get to see this amazing slug that was half the size of my hand. I shall call him Lawrence.

Since we only have four weekends left in Korea, this was probably our last time hiking at Palgongsan. Like everything these days, this was bittersweet. While I’ve moved many times in the past few years, this is the first time I’ll be moving away truly not knowing if I will ever come back to these places again. So while part of me is counting down the days, another part of me doesn’t quite know how to say goodbye. I am so thankful for the adventures we’ve had here, even as I look forward to the adventures to come.

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few – no pressure. If you missed last week’s adventure about our visit to the cat cafe, you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.

Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure #14: Unplanned Loveliness

Last weekend we were planning to go to Busan for the day on Saturday. Busan is the second largest city in Korea and it’s only 45 minutes away by high-speed train or 1.5 hours on the slow train. As Saturday approached, we looked at the forecast and realized that it was going to rain heavily starting Saturday afternoon. The appeal of Busan is that it’s on the coast with nice beaches and rocky coastlines, so being outside is essential to enjoying Busan. We knew that by the time we made it down there we’d only have a short time before the rain hit, so we decided to postpone until a nicer weekend.

Annoyingly, when we woke up on Saturday morning, it was stunningly beautiful outside. (This was only annoying because we’d cancelled our plans for bad weathe). It was cool and crisp and the sky was totally clear and blue.  I decided to go for a run late Saturday morning to soak in the sun while it was still there.

I went to my usual weekend running spot – some biking/running/walking tracks along the river on the west side of Daegu. It takes about 40 minutes to get there from my apartment, which is why I only go on the weekends, but I really like this area.

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View from my normal running track.

When I got to the river I decided to cross the bridge and run on the opposite side of the river from where I usually run. When I got halfway across the bridge, I glanced back the way I had come and noticed that there were steps cut into the hill (mountain?) behind me. I only thought about it for a split second, then turned around and got off the bridge to explore.

Hill/mountain I saw a path on from the bridge.

Hill/mountain I saw a path on from the bridge.

The beginning of the trail.

The beginning of the trail.

I started climbing and pretty quickly found myself up above my usual running path looking down on the river and the bridge below. (Sorry about the crappy photos, by the way. I wasn’t planning on hiking so I only had my phone with me and the camera on my phone just isn’t great).

The bridge I was on when I spotted the path.

The bridge I was on when I spotted the path.

You can see the track down below where I was planning on running before I got distracted.

You can see the track down below where I was planning on running before I got distracted.

Once I made it up above the river, I realized that the path kept going. In fact, there were numbered posts ever 100 meters or so along the trail. The post at the head of the trail was #34 (I think) and when I reached the first “peak” it was still in the 20’s so I knew there was still a lot of trail ahead. I didn’t know where the trail would lead, but I figured it would eventually take me back down and I could figure it out where I was from there. I pressed on.

I met this animal which I think was a kind of squirrel, but it had some strange rabbit-like characteristics, too, so I have decided to call it a squabbit.

I met this animal which I think was a kind of squirrel, but it had some strange rabbit-like characteristics, too, so I have decided to call it a squabbit.

About halfway through the trail, I came upon one of the ubiquitous Korean outdoor gyms. These things are everywhere. A funny thing about Koreans is that they are really interested in exercise and physical activity – hence all the hiking and gyms – but they are not interested in working out all that hard. I have almost never seen someone working up a sweat or doing anything strenuous. They will just use the equipment with no weight on it to casually do arm or leg exercises, but mostly they are just stretching and getting the blood pumping, often in very funny ways. It’s not unusual for me to walk through the park and see a man in his sixties hanging upside down from his knees on the exercise equipment to stretch his back. I encountered two more sets of gym equipment further on my hike.

The first gym I stumbled on.

The first gym I stumbled on.

I also found several of these hanging on trees near gym equipment. I can only guess it is some sort of giant hula hoop. I would have loved to see someone use it.

I also found several of these hanging on trees near gym equipment. I can only guess it is some sort of giant hula hoop. I would have loved to see someone use it.

It’s still early spring here, so there weren’t tons of flowers or trees blooming, but I did stumble on a few bits of unexpected beauty.

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The cherry blossoms are out in full force.

The cherry blossoms are out in full force. As you can see, the sky was already starting to cloud up by this point.

After about an hour of uphills and downhills and back uphill again, I came to the highest part of this mountain and took in the view.

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The trail continued on going back down, so instead of turning around I continued to follow it. Along the descent I passed several stone piles like this one, which are typically seen on the path up to temples that are built high on mountains. I’m not sure why they were here in this case, but the idea is that people add to the stack as they pass by.

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About half an hour later I made it back down to the bottom, though in a different place than where I’d started. And, lest we forget that I am in Korea, here is  a picture of what the bottom of the trail looked like, haha.

IMG_20150404_131744This week’s adventure was about what my friend Meredith calls “unplanned loveliness.” It was about being willing to get lost – to wander with no agenda – to take the time to see the world around me instead of always being on a schedule. This adventure was about what can happen when you just say “yes” to what’s in front of you instead of thinking of all the reasons to say “no.”  There is beauty all around us. All we have to do is take the time to notice it.

PS – Happy Easter, everyone!

If you have an adventure to share, add your link to the link-up by clicking the button below. You can also click this button to read other bloggers’ adventures. You can participate in all of the adventures or you can just do a few – no pressure. If you missed last week’s adventure you can find it here. And if you are new to my Fifty-Two Weeks of Adventure project you can find out more about it here.