In two earlier posts on Seoul and hiking, I extolled the merits of hiking in Korea and the camaraderie that develops between hikers, especially during the after-hike. I am getting nostalgic about hiking in Korea as we near early autumn, a most perfect season for getting your hike on. I am also pining for my Seoul Hiking Club of 2002 when I first became an official member. Most of the original* hikers have long since moved on, as have I, but I look back upon those times with nostalgia something fierce (*and when I say original I mean the people who showed up almost every week and with whom I became fast friends. You know who you are). Check them out at http://www.hikingkorea.com/
With 70% of its terrain continuous-mountainous, Korea is a dream for any hardcore hiker, of which Korea has no shortage. There’s a wide range of trails, from easy to moderate to bring-a-change-of-underwear––on one mountain named Obong (Five Peaks) there are parts where it seems that you are climbing up at a 90 degree angle. Every weekend was an opportunity for our gung-ho hiking club leader to almost put us hikers in jeopardy, but I do mean almost. But what better way to bond with perfect strangers than to almost fall off a Korean cliff together?
One of the best features of the hiking club was that you were always meeting new people, Korean and non––there’s a big population of expats in Korea, passing through and/or staying put, and I think I might have met them all while hiking! People from all over: Germany, Ireland, Taiwan, Croatia, Australia, South Africa, Lebanon…I like to think of us as the UN of hiking clubs. And after hours going up and down a mountain with these people, sometimes up to 8 hours or longer, you really did become a family of sorts––a loud and dysfunctional family arguing about politics, the war, food and everything, but a family all the same. And unlike your biological family, no holding grudges for too long…
In Korea, there is no better way to celebrate the end of your arduous trek than to consume copious amounts of soju. It is the great lubricator, assisting you in your efforts to get along or not. No wonder that it is what Koreans of all economic and social strata drink in the privacy of their homes and out in public with friends.
At the time I was living in Seoul, I could buy a 375 ml bottle for about two bucks at the grocery store or for four at a restaurant. Forget about shelling out those 20 clams at a Korean restaurant here, y’all, just go get it from the liquor store (you won’t get it for $2, but most likely less than $20).
And because we are currently in peach season and I recently went peach picking in an orchard (a kind of Shangri-La), I am going to suggest that your next soju infusion be peach. As you may have gleaned from past posts, I like soju infusions.
That’s because I know a good drink when I drink it…
soju, 375 ml
peaches, 1-2 peeled and sliced
1. In a clean, dry with a wide enough mouth, put your sliced peaches in. Pour in the soju. Put the lid on.
2. Refrigerate and let infuse for at least 5 days. Check on it. You could let it infuse for up to a month, but that depends on you.