Archive for the ‘hiking’ Category

Em in Asia! 2013-03-13 23:16:34

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

I can’t concentrate.

Yesterday I had no school, so I hiked a mountain in Gwangju (the nearby city). It was nice. It was a cold, dreary, wet Wednesday afternoon which meant that the trails were deserted. I plugged in my iPod and went up and down hills, squelching in the mud, nodding to random people that I saw. I saw chipmunks, trees, rocks, and the Gwangju city skyline. The forests, paths, and lack of people reminded me of Virginia, and it was nice. I arrived at one of the peaks of the mountain range by accident – my co-teacher had told me to follow a trail to a certain point, and I continued on because I wasn’t tired. I got to the end, looked around, and the world opened up below me. It was made all the more exhilarating because I was alone; there was no one there to chat to or to be distracted by. On the way back down I got lost, as per usual, and ended up walking down the entire mountain instead of halfway down to the temple at which I had originally disembarked. With the help of a friendly older man I found another bus stop and made it off the mountain.

It was cold, it was wet, I was alone, I was lost, but I was oddly content.

Last night I found out that I had been accepted to Johns Hopkins SAIS Masters program in Korea Studies. SAIS is the premiere IR program in the nation. I didn’t receive any fellowships or scholarships. I don’t know what to do, and I am no longer at peace. If anyone has any advice for me, I would greatly appreciate it.

In which Em talks about Hiking and How She’s Bad At It

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

I hate hiking.

There. I said it. I’ll say it again: I hate hiking. Okay not really, but it can be incredibly frustrating at times. I love trekking, I love going downhill, I love looking at the scenery, and I love being outdoors with friends. I also love being at the tops of mountains and looking down and marveling at how from this height, I’m larger than the trees. I love the air, the sounds, and the smells, but I hate going up.

I tell everyone I like hiking because I want to like hiking. It’s a cool hobby to have, and everything about it speaks to me – except for the incline. I tell people that I like hiking (somewhat true) but I’m bad at it (very true) because I want to like hiking, all aspects of it.

This weekend a friend invited me to go hiking with her and some of her friends. This is only the second time we’ve hung out and, until the day of, I had no idea where we were going or who we were meeting, but I was very excited. It ended up being four of us, two guys and us two girls, going to Ma-i San National Park in Jeollabukdo, a province about two hours north of here.

As I partook in the Sisyphean task of pushing myself up peaks only to immediately come back down and prepare to go up again (only, unlike a boulder I didn’t roll down the mountain – I came down under my own power. However like in the myth, this trek seemed to go on for an eternity, and it was so unseasonably hot it could have been the Underworld) I marveled at how hiking is a terrible first way to meet someone. The three of them, all around thirty years of age and in way better shape than I was, were chatting as they strolled straight up at a normal pace as I huffed and puffed and turned bright red. You see, it’s not my legs that are the problem, it’s my lungs and my face. My legs don’t really ever get tired, it’s just that I don’t really sweat so I become overheated and then I can’t breathe. It’s frustrating because no matter how much I work out, or how in shape I get, this will always be a problem I have to work around. I tend to deal with this by dumping the contents of my water bottle on my head – also not something you do when you want to impress someone. At one point while we were going up a particularly steep part of the path and they were looking, walking and talking like actors in a Northface commercial, they turned to check on me and there I was, red-faced, water dripping from my hair onto my neck, probably looking like a bedraggled rat who lives in a sewer next to a factory that manufactures dyes. They all immediately burst out laughing, told me I was 씩씩하다 (brave/spirited/vivacious), and after I croaked out a response (probably some sort-of lie like “I’m fine, carry on”), we kept going.

Still, it was fun, the weather was beautiful, and I made new friends. We ate pears and ramen on the trail, took pictures, and chatted in Korean and in English. Afterwards we had dinner together and they didn’t  want me to walk from school to my apartment (a five minute walk) in the dark (it was 7 pm, the sun had just set) so they dropped me off at my apartment where I promptly crawled into bed. Other than the parts where I wanted to give up and lie on the ground, I had a great day. However, I’m rethinking going hiking with the teachers’ hiking club next weekend – I don’t know how much more of a beating my pride could take, especially if I end up being the worst hiker in the club which consists primarily of forty to sixty year-old men.

마이산: Ma-i san

The Welsh Stairmaster

Friday, October 14th, 2011

I can definitely say hiking in Wales today was probably one of the best experiences of my entire life. Now let me go John Muir on you for a second.The most amazing feeling is when you accomplish something, right? Add some nature in there and you’re golden (I won’t spit out some Tintern Abbey, don’t worry). We hiked up a MOUNTAIN today. Not a high hill, not even Glastonbury, but the highest mountains in the Brecon Beacons National Park.  The highest peak in South Wales. 2906 feet. I just need to emphasize that—for me, a person who lives in front of my laptop and TiVo, this is quite a feat. And that feeling when we reached the very top, in the clouds, with the wind pummeling us and cold seeping into our bones, was indescribable. There was a lot of excited whooping and TONS of pictures. I couldn’t erase the smile from my face!

I’ve never experienced the feeling of a STRENUOUS HIKING workout, first of all. A 7 mile hike, half of it being uphill, does tend to get the blood pumping and your thighs burning. 10 minutes up, all I could think was “Jesus, why did I sign up for this?”. But once you just accept the fact that you’re doing it, you just go.  Once you’re in the clouds, it kind of changes your perspective on your previous piddly gym workouts. And there is definitely something spiritual in it that you can look down at rolling fields of green, sheep the size of quotation marks and think yeah, I just climbed up that.

After we reached the very top and took tons of pictures, we finagled a spot into the crags of the mountain to eat our brief lunch. Of course there was group bonding and all that jazz. We hiked back down (that’s pretty refreshing after the opposite) and headed to a local Welsh pub and had traditional meals—I had beef stew “hot pot”, which was a great concoction of potatoes, veggies and beef. And hot chocolate to drink? Apparently it’s a thing there, no idea.

We did leave one of our own behind….the only guy in the group, go figure. He’s kind of hard to miss. We made it a block away in the bus before we all just realized he was back at the pub. Whoooooops! Oh well, at least everybody made it safely off the mountain! And it’s an experience I’ll never forget :) I can now say me and my ASE-ers have climbed mountains together. And don’t worry, you’ll never see this much corniness from me again in a future post! haha






By my best estimate I think we climbed one of those...haha

Mini-cliffs where we had snacks


First starting out---beautiful Welsh countryside!

San Rafeal

Monday, April 26th, 2010

My third weekend trip recently was to San Rafeal in province of Mendoza. We were outdoorsy adventurers and went to two different wineries.

The hotel…

…and around the hotel. We had a free morning and then went hiking that afternoon.


My dog Lizzie would not have lasted 2 minutes with these guys. They were insane.

Day 2 we went repelling!

Here you can see someone else repelling:

And my friend who has an amazing camera took this picture of me on the zip-line:

That afternoon we visited two wineries.

Delicious Cabernet grapes!

And then, look who I found beside a pile of grapes!:

And that’s when I decided I was adopting a kitten.

The next winery was more “family-oriented” than the first, which was international instead of local.

They also had more animals.

The last day we went rafting. That was quite an experience…I had no idea class 2 rapids could be INTENSE. Very early on, one of the guides from the other raft pulled up close to ours, grabbed my life jacket, and tried to pull me out! Into the water! I am seriously afraid of rocks, probably due to a previous traumatizing rafting experience, and wasn’t a huge fan of this. It was really unexpected and I didn’t know what was going on. It turns out we were in for a pirate rafting tour, so to speak, including “stealing the girls” from other rafts and capturing them. I didn’t read the pamphlet, but I don’t think that was what I signed up for. There was also a lot of yelling involved and our guide purposely leading us into the sides of cliffs. It was actually fun though, in a scary sort of way. But I would rather have had previous knowledge of the surprise. I probably wouldn’t do it again considering how I felt afterward, which was freezing cold and really tense and banged up. I still have bruises on my legs to this day!

Here is an after picture. I am happy to be alive:

This blog post is so long. My trip is almost over though. We headed back to the hotel and I took a hot shower in the middle of them serving lunch (yes the service was that slow, sorry Mom for being rude- I didn’t have that much time! It had to be done).

I was super exhausted and wanted to go to lay in bed, finally safe and warm and dry, but I knew I had to sleep as best I could on the bus ride home so I went on a trip to the dam instead. We fit 23 people into a 13 passenger van.

I’m glad I went, because this is what I saw!!

Gorgeous! The End. The bus arrived back at our University 9am the next morning.