CAMP HOVEY, South Korea – Rather than staying glued to a chair clicking away at a keyboard or rapidly tapping a video game controller, there are some great alternatives ways for soldiers to pass their time over a long weekend. Whether it is indoors or outdoors, Korea has a lot to offer soldiers.
Approximately 75 percent of Korea is covered by mountain ranges and hiking is a popular hobby for most Koreans and many soldiers as well. So at some point during their tour, soldiers should invest in at least one decent pair of boots because there are plenty of hiking trails calling out to anyone who wants to get some great exercise and experience a little nature.
“Going on hikes remind me of back home,” said Pvt. Jacob Alexander, a Greeenwood, S.C.,-native, and an infantryman with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. “When I was little, we [his family] used to go hiking all the time.”
Alexander pulled on a pair of boots and headed toward the Teokgeo-ri gate on Camp Hovey with his two battle buddies for a quick three-mile hike.
“When I got to the trail I was like, 'wow, this is steep',” said Alexander. “But as soon as I got to the top, I was amazed how much it reminded me of home. It was amazing being able to see everything. I felt like I was on top of the world.”
Although a downpour began, the trio, who have been friends since advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga., continued to trek up the trail in an effort to experience Korea at new heights.
“Going up the mountain, I thought I was going to die, but I made it to the top and it was nice see Korea over my shoulder,” said Pvt. Laqwointaye Ross, a Flint, Mich., native and an infantryman with HHC. “I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never walked up a mountain and I’ve never gone hiking. I typically hang-out with friends to have fun, but encourage everyone to get out and see Korea.”
The group made their way up the final 500-meter ascent and was happy to find an old Chinese temple tucked away on the backside of a farm.
“Going hiking was a good experience. I’m glad that my leadership allowed me to do it, I really didn’t expect to do this when I got here,” said Pvt. Eric Bruce, a Charlotte, N.C., native an infantryman with HHC. “I’m from the city, so I haven’t really done anything like this, I usually hangout or play basketball. I’m more of a level-ground kind of guy. I felt great after going up and down the mountain. I would definitely do it again.”
The trio took time to explore their surroundings and catch their breaths. While the rain refused to stop, they trekked down the mountain and back to the barracks in under an hour.
Directions: Exit through the Teokgeo-ri gate on Camp Hovey. Take the first right toward the mountain bike course. Once on the course take the road that veers to the left. If already off post, drive toward the Teokgeo-ri gate. When close to the gate, veer to the left toward the mountain bike course, then take the left road up the mountain.