This is a true story, as evidenced by the photographs. But you know me: I can’t help dramatizing things a little.
I saw a preview of the apocalypse this past weekend as masses of humanity pressed together, fighting to ascend (and then descend) a steep, rain-soaked path of tumbled rocks. The horror, the horror…
Koreans love them some mountain climbing and they love them some autumn colors. And considering that everyone loves them some weekend, going mountain climbing on a Saturday in Korea in the fall is like a perfect storm, especially in the rain.
The sky was overcast when I left the house in the morning. I couldn’t find my umbrella, but I had a magic talisman that prevented rain. At least, it rarely rained when I was carrying it and I believe strongly in the principle that correlation implies causation.
I got to the mountain (which is also a provincial park) and as the bus passed long lines of cars parked along the side of the road, my heart sank like a bowling ball in a banana souffle. It was, as the Chinese say, a mountain of people, a sea of people. If zombie hordes wore expensive hiking gear and preyed on autumn leaves, I would have been in a George Romero film.
The rain started as a fine mist about halfway up the mountain. By the time I got to the park’s famed Cloud Bridge, the path had bottlenecked and so we all stood in the rain, shuffling forward at a snail’s pace until I finally reached the bridge. I looked down at the path 250 feet below me and saw the winding, ant-like column of hikers abandoning the mountain.
I gave up the idea of going to the peak. A cloud had sat on the mountain as if it were snuggling into an easy chair and after the bridge was a treacherous metal stairway, over 200 feet high and as steep as a ladder. I wasn’t the only one who decided to cut the trip short and head for the cable car station nearby for a quick trip to the bottom. The trails were choked with sodden hikers, some with expensive cameras, jewelry and nice purses, all picking their way down the slick rocks. I felt like we were refugees from some disaster.
There was a two-hour wait for the cable car, nowhere to sit and nowhere particularly warm. At least the view was pretty.
I got home four hours later and soon the apocalypse was only a distant memory. It’s amazing what a hot shower can cure.
November 5th, 2013 at 8:44 am
That’s really kind of awesome and amazing. (And I’m wondering how many people you’re going to confuse with it…)
November 5th, 2013 at 8:55 am
probably a lot 🙂
November 5th, 2013 at 9:05 am
Your pictures are breathtaking! Wow. But, I can’t believe all the people! Zombie apocalypse is right. It looks very slippery, too. Yikes. If a person fell down that hill, there could be a whole domino effect. Not the most relaxing hike, huh?
November 5th, 2013 at 9:31 am
I don’t usually like to go to provincial and national parks in the fall for this reason. I usually go to mountains no one else knows about since I like the peace and quiet. But, it was an experience. 🙂
November 5th, 2013 at 11:17 am
Looks like it’s a place to return to during a weekday, perhaps
November 5th, 2013 at 11:44 am
Great photos. It is a miracle the bridge did not crumble under all the hikers, and people got down safely. They must really love hiking up mountains to go in rain like that. On our peaks like Long’s Peak it would be disastrous as it is over 14,000 on the summit.
November 5th, 2013 at 1:38 pm
this was a provincial park so the trails were pretty safe, although this one is less than some. This mountain was only about 3000′.
November 6th, 2013 at 6:04 am
Oh, not much of a problem then. Our city here is over 6,000 ft. elevation, so we are used to higher altitude but can play havoc when one attempts climbs up the Rockies, if not used to climbing. The lungs want to burst, and the legs crumble beneath one. 🙂
November 6th, 2013 at 4:41 pm
Now that is a crowd! What was I complaining about in the Delhi Tomb??? I think we Asians have a genetic compulsion to follow the pack 🙂
November 6th, 2013 at 5:14 pm
Yeah, do everything in groups. People sometimes ask me if I have any friends, if they ever see me traveling alone. 🙂
November 6th, 2013 at 10:53 pm
amazing photographs David- this fever spreads in Kolkata during festive seasons 🙂
people, people and people everywhere 🙂 I envy their energy a lot.
November 8th, 2013 at 11:05 am
Wouldn’t have believed the crowd without those photos, wow.
November 16th, 2013 at 10:21 am
yikes…like claustrophobia in the great outdoors…
Is this really the norm for weekend scenic hiking, or was this particular day a special occasion of some sort?
November 17th, 2013 at 2:54 pm
This is normal for very popular parks in the fall, since a lot of people go out to see the leaves. There is a national park which is apparently much worse than this, but I’ve never gone in the fall, for that very reason.