Today in Seoul 34: The Seoul Trail

November 18, 2016

We wondered how I’d do, traveling with MS. Last Saturday, outside the theater before Gillian’s dance performance, we noticed a path through some nearby trees. At the top, a sign for the Seoul Trail. We Googled it: 157 KM (94 miles) of trails in 8 sections around the city. A woman at Janet’s Korean class knew someone who’d done the whole thing — she put Janet in touch. This morning, two subway lines later, we stood at a trailhead. An easy section, Janet’s contact had said. It climbed steeply, the path slippery with leaves. I took the rubber tips off my poles, exposing the points. We stepped aside for two young women walking down, arm-in-arm. You see that a lot, but there was another reason: one carried a white cane. Up we went. Coming down would be an issue — we’d deal with that later. Out on the trail, we heard again the same international language we’d heard at Seollung Park: the joy of walking in nature. Everyone we passed was fluent. Three different men — normally taciturn — greeted us with “Good morning.” I wasn’t a disabled guy, just one among many using trekking poles. We posed for a selfie, a guy took it for us, asked our ages, was delighted that his and Janet’s were the same. He took her hand in both of his. “친구,” he said. “Friend.” We took a different path on the way down. It switch-backed — problem of steep section avoided. We greeted two women with our best “안녕하세요”’s. They burst into delighted chatter. “한국어 좋아요,” one told me as she passed. “Korean good!” Near the bottom was a particularly Asian twist: air hoses, to clean your shoes and clothes. Now, what we were talking about?