This year I decided to forgo the fancy dress and high heels for something a little more practical: flannel, boots, and a backpack and I think it’s turned into my favorite New Year attire!
The evening started off with a traditional Korean BBQ dinner at our regular establishment: the lovely Oso. We eventually wandered back to Alicia’s apartment and hung out while she made banana bread and cookies. I was determined to pull an all-nighter until around midnight when I no longer could keep my eyes open and I decided to pile into Alicia’s bed between Dalena and Natalie. Before we knew it, 3 AM quickly approached and we scrambled with our microwaved coffees out the door.
The taxi dropped us off at a part of Mudeung Mountain that I had never seen before, loaded with mobs of excited faces all bundled up in hiking gear walking in the same direction, and not really knowing where we were going, we followed the crowd.
It was pretty straight forward, follow the crowd to the peak, right?
Well, it turns out there are many paths up the mountain….and well, we took the one less traveled.
I wish I could say it was a result of our rebelliousness and sense for adventure, but in all honesty, the path we took was less of a hike. We also began to realize that it was also less defrosted and lit, too.
Thankfully, I had packed a tiny flashlight that led our way up the mountain. We were climbing rocks and icy stairs in pure darkness. Luckily, we didn’t run into a pair of glowing eyes within the deep forest. The craziest thing, was when we found ourselves on a literal cliffs as we climbed over huge boulders! If it wasn’t for the dark, I think I would have honestly rethought the path we took. The darkness actually proved to be our saving grace; we didn’t know what was ahead, all we knew were the couple feet of light shining from my tiny flashlight.
As I was jumping ahead of the group to check out the path, I became strangely grateful for the darkness. How beautiful is it that the trusted guidance of a tiny light in a massive forest of darkness gave just enough courage for the next step to keep going?
To be completely honest, the most awe inspiring moment wasn’t the sun rising that morning, but climbing the boulder and turning to see a trail of flashlights and candles lighting the way up the main part of the mountain (the path we should have taken) – this simple view was probably the most beautiful and powerful thing I’ve ever seen and for a few seconds I stood there absolutely speechless, mouth wide open, simply gawking. I eventually managed to stumble back and call to Dalena and Natalie to check out the incredible caravan of lights shining through the trees all forming one gigantic path up the mountain. We all stood on our empty path in awe. This is when taking the path less traveled makes all the difference. I tried several times to capture pictures of this moment, but cameras couldn’t capture the trail of light, it will forever be just a beautiful memory.
We climbed steep muddy hills and ran into a couple Korean men sporting caving helmets that assisted us up the muddy pathway and our last leg of the path. Two hours later, we made it to the peak and just in time to plop down and indulge in some of Alicia’s homemade molasses double chocolate cookies before the sun graced us with it’s presence.
Around 7:40, the sky began turning a warm pink and we were greeted with the first day light of 2014.
Climbing down the mountain was the scariest part of the journey as we saw in pure daylight the reality of what we faced blinded by the darkness only an hour earlier. We traversed edges of the mountain that probably should have had some sort of safety rail, icy stairs, muddy hillsides, and found ourselves on hands and knees climbing rocks.
It truly was the experience of a lifetime.
I can confidently say that I’d gladly trade a dress and heels for flannel and boots any New Year’s eve.
“May you find the courage to walk your own path. May you dare to venture into the uncharted domains of your own heart. Here is my advice to you, the adventurers – fear will show you the way; walk steadily toward it, for otherwise you will always be running. Have trust & faith to guide you like a torch piercing the darkness. Do not believe & do not deny, but find out for yourself – for there is no truth but the one you have earned in your own experience.” -Yossi Ghinsberg