The winter in Seoul is not just cold, it’s painful. That was how I have been warned from my friends in Korea. As a girl born and raised in Southern California, it was a very scary thing to hear. Ever since the first sprinkles of snow, I’ve spent a big chunk of my paycheck to keep myself warm because I didn’t have any good winter clothes to start with. These days the morning starts with -9 degrees Celsius, and settles at around 0 degrees during the day. I’m surviving by wearing multiple layers of clothes and using a pair of earmuffs for the first time in my life. It still scares me to think that this is only the beginning of winter.
But when I went on a snowy hike on a mountain that is farther up north near the border of South and North Korea, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t as cold as the city’s bitter cold. Maybe it’s the fresh air that makes a difference. Since I was a beginner, I set my goal to the midpoint, which was around an hour hike up. We strapped cramp-ons on our shoes, so we’d have a firm grip on the freshly mounted snow.
After only 10 minutes of hiking, I started sweating, so I had to take my layers of jackets off. It was strange to feel fine with such thin clothes in the snow. The hike was steep, but it was manageable, and I was enjoying it even though I was getting out of breath. The feeling of accomplishment was great. I think I could get addicted to hiking if these mountains weren’t too far. The 2 hour bus ride was exhausting.
And one last thing that I can’t forget about the hike. Eating a nice warm meal with my fellow hikers at the end of the day.