Monday, July 23, 2012

Climbing in Korea: The Great Helicopter Rescue

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I joined a group called Climbing in Korea (CIK) to do hikes. This weekend we went back Gangwon-Do province, but this time to a small town called Inje, where we ditched the rafts for some rock hopping. Having learned my lesson from the last hike, in which I found myself on an unexpectedly steep uphill climb, I figured that when they said we would be walking through the river with "our feet immersed" that we would actually be walking through waist deep water. Thankfully I came prepared to swim:

Post- posing by a waterfall picture (sorry I don't have it!). We went swimming too.
 That wasn't a jab at CIK, I love their hikes, I just feel anyone who joins should be warned that their hikes aren't necessarily for beginners (or those looking to stay dry if there is a river involved)!

The fallen tree really heightens the dramatic effect of wading through the river here...actually the river was very pretty:
Taken from the top of a boulder which I barely made it off of...sometimes hiking and short legs don't mix.
Unfortunately I got some water on my camera lens (the perils of hiking) but you get the idea. Nothing however, was more dramatic than this:

We were taking a break when suddenly this helicopter emerges from around the bend. For a second it sort of felt like that scene in Avatar when they wake up to those giant tree crushing machines about to take down Eiwa (alright honestly, the analogy that first popped into my head was that it sounded like some Northern neighbors were invading, but somehow that seemed inappropriate). 

Anyway, what we thought was some kind of Korean ranger practice turned out to be a real rescue mission for a...wait for it....a hiker who had sprained his ankle. While this seems super excessive, the trail was actually extremely rocky. Between that and having to wade through the river, it would have been nearly impossible to carry an injured person to the end of the hike. And the scene unfolds:

Here's Rescue Man #1 coming to save the day...the pictures are a little washed out because of all the water being stirred up by the helicopter...I don't know how many of you have ever had the pleasure of sitting beneath a helicopter in operation...but it's loud, windy, and doesn't go well with water.

Rescue Man #1, Rescue Man #2, and a lovely man from CIK helping out sprained-ankle guy...who I'm sure was a bit embarrassed by this whole scene (mind you there were about 50 other hikers sitting behind me also watching this happen). 

And there it goes...while this was happening we also realized that there was a snake on the boulder we were all sitting on (just a little guy, but still mildly terrifying). Never a dull moment in Korea...

The next day I hung around Seoul and walked to Insadong, which is the artsy walking district downtown. I'll do another post on it later when I get to see/ know more of it. On my way home though I finally passed the Cheonggyecheon River which I'd been wanting to see. It's a river that flows through downtown Seoul. It used to be covered up but recently became the focus of a massive urban renewal project, so they've been building all of this awesome park space around it. Kind of like the High Line in NYC, but for a river...

No cute news this week, but here's a photo of a cool magnet from a gallery in Insadong, complete with a wannabe Marilyn Monroe (a poor substitute I know....sorry!)

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