After having recently getting to know a renowned hiker, I was told by him about a night-hiking team that has done night-hiking consistently for 22 years. I dared to ask to join the team though I was afraid if I could keep up with the experts.
They always hike the same trail of Mt. Geumjeongsan twice a week, at 7 pm every Tuesday and Friday, rain or shine. I wanted to meet them and know the reasons.
Mt. Geumjeongsan is famous as the longest historic fortress in Korea. After parking around Sanseonggogae, a parking and rest area, walking up around 25 minutes led us to the South Gate. From there, the real hiking of 40 minutes to Sanggyebong (Sanggye Peak) begins.
The leader of the hiking group, Dr. Hwang Seonggi, told me: “People think there is more carbon dioxide at night in the mountains because of the plants. But it is not true because there is still a lot of oxygen kept in the mountain. The air is actually much better here than down there. Night-hiking is good for blocked noses, too.”
He continued: “I have almost lost my intervertebral disk after 40 years of tea meditation. Sitting on the floor really hurts your back. I did not follow other people or doctors’ advice that you should not move and do nothing. Instead, I started hiking. It enhances muscles around your back. In my case, I do this to survive and to live my life. I cannot skip this, or I am in pain,” he said. “There is one thing really good about hiking the same trail regularly. You can see all different kinds of beauty this mountain offers. It is the same trail but it changes every time.”
That seemed to answer why they hike the same trail twice a week and almost never miss a meeting.
I found myself enjoying this hike and even thought about doing it again myself. Then I worried about being lost in the mountain.
“You do not need to worry because there is only one trail to get to each destination. Unless you try to venture off the trails, you will be fine. Please do not do that,” Hwang said.
We arrived at Sanggyebong, one of the peaks in the mountain. The scenery was breathtaking and the Gwangan Bridge can be clearly seen, too.
On the way down, we spent a little extra time to chat and have some food and tea, which they normally don’t do, but they did just for me. Except for that and the Sanggyebong break, it took around two hours at a normal walking pace. It was the coldest day so far this winter, but in the mountain it was less cold because the trees blocked the wind.
It was not as difficult as I feared. I felt good and so happy that I did it. While I do think that working out at a gym for the last five months helped me, two hours was the right amount of time. Moreover, you do not need to worry about how you look and getting enough sunscreen. I am a big fan of night-hiking now. In fact, even my runny nose that had bothered me for a week was cured the day.
The group was so warm and generous and really cared about the nature around them.
Would you like to join? You are always welcome!
For further information about the trails, you can find it here (Geumjeong-go office in English).