Continuing from where I left off in my previous post…
After hiking to the ridge of Mt. Achasan and turning away from the Seoul Trail leading to Mt. Yongmasan, we walked down a long trail of steps to Achasan Mountain Ecological Park. By 1 p.m., families and groups of hikers started showing up in the park.
Here’s what I love about hiking in Seoul, there are multiple ways to reach the summit of any peak. So, as we traced our path towards the main entrance of the park, it seemed as if we had hiked in the opposite direction. Along the way, signboards indicated the route to the summit and information office. For those who might have read my earlier post, you might remember, our first stop at the Goguryeojeong Pavilion, where we saw hikers climb the rocky face of the mountain (appearing from nowhere). As we passed the signboards, we came across the base of that mountain route. The climb is pretty steep and involves climbing jagged rock, but, is a shorter route to reach the Pavilion. Basil was all set to climb up this route. I thought of exploring the ecological gardens, instead.
Further on, a wooden boardwalk lead towards a gushing waterfall and thick canopy of green trees. Below, the waters of the fall gushed into a small rivulet, flowing deeper into the park. Visitors were happy to pose with the gushing water and didn’t seem to care much of a likely fall. Despite the squealing sounds of excited kids or the yelling of selfie frenzied folk; the setting had a calming effect. It’s hard to go wrong with a gurgling river and chirping birds.
A performance stage was set for young kids to showcase their musical talent. We sat for a while, rested our tired legs; before realising, that maybe, the audience comprised families of the children performing.
It was strange to exit the park from the main entrance gate. It felt like finishing the race from the opposite side of the finish line. Huge boards gave a brief background of the area and some historical facts of the park.
The main road outside leads towards the gardens. Despite the heat, few families found a spot, under the shade, to enjoy their afternoon lunch. We saw few teens reading a book in a quiet corner. The museum was closed and we took a short break to finish our sandwich and sip water, before we headed, to explore the other areas of the park.
In moments like these, we let our feet choose the next path to follow. We were pretty tired by now and yet, the different hues of the plants made us want to scout around for a bit. We walked through well marked paths, hidden under, the shade of blooming trees. Families and hikers walked across us — in the opposite direction. Many of the benches were occupied with families enjoying a warm summer’s day in the park.
We finally reached the last stretch of green, before our feet felt, it was time to head back. The wetlands were empty and a lone mermaid sat in silence with a forlorn look. Surrounding her, in the turbid waters, were floating leaves and buzzing insects. I could have stayed here and enjoyed the silence of the setting. But, it was getting hotter, and we had to make our way back to the subway station.
We didn’t know the route to Gwangnaru station (Line 5). So, we followed the footsteps of the other hikers. On our way, we came across some street art and passed by Achasan Goguryeo Historical Road. Sometimes, walks like these, never seem to end. And when they do, despite the tiredness and aching feet, all you will think of, is how high you can reach, if you truly set your mind to something. And then, the lows won’t count.