Much like Moana, I have always been called to the ocean. From scuba diving to swimming, even to my bachelor’s degree, I never had a doubt in my mind that the sea was for me.
But lately, I mean the past couple of weeks lately, I have been lusting over the mountains. Probably because of the film Mountain that was featured at Busan International Film Festival left my mouth gaping open.
Regardless of the movies that I watched, Korea is the place to fall in love with mountains. 70% of Korea’s topography is mountainous, so I might as well like it.
My non-romantic partner, Justine, invited me to climb Jirisan. I thought of the mouth-watering drone footage from that inspo-doc (a word I just invented for an inspiring documentary) and said yes. It’s the second-tallest mountain in South Korea.
We ascended before dawn. Right as we hit the trailhead I felt like I was going into cardiac arrest. I had to sit down for more than a few moments. I breathed thinking “I am connected” and waited until I couldn’t feel my heartbeat in my eardrum. Bless my patient friends.
This hike wasn’t as technical and scary as Sinbulsan (and my ankle wasn’t sprained this time), but it was still challenging. I had to repeat my mantra throughout the duration of the hike. I realized that challenging yourself physically takes a whole different form of mental strength that I am not used to exercising (ha).
Back at home, I would hike. But I would usually go by myself, climb high enough to get a view of my car, then come back down. There was no such thing as “summiting”. The trails in Korea are often steep and difficult, but always rewarding.
While I’m probably not going to give up my current life to become a dirtbag in Yosemite, I have a found a new way to challenge and become a better version of myself.