One a sunny and pleasant Sunday morning, I agreed to go hiking with my sister. It seemed like half of Seoul had the same idea. The online information will tell you to take the metro to Gupabal but we decided to meet at the stop before at Yeonsinnae instead as we needed lockers. I spotted an ajumma (middled aged woman) selling freshly rolled gimbaps. I bought 2 from her. I had no idea what was inside them despite her attempts at trying to explain to me.
When they say that hiking is popular amongst Koreans, they were not overexaggerating. Every bus that we waited for to take us to the entry of the National park was FULL. And we saw about 4 buses that went past. We then decided to catch another bus that would drop us off 1km away from the entry of the park. 1km isn’t bad, so we thought. We were able to even sit on the bus.
Surprisingly, the demographic of the hikers were on the older side. Gosh, they are so fit. I admire their healthy hobby and determination.
Once in the park, restaurants and hiking stores lined the entry path into the park. There are plenty of signs and plenty of people to follow into and up the national park. Along the way, we were treated to beautiful untouched autumn scenery. There are temples scattered throughout on the ascent. Although we didn’t go into any, the gateway and stairs to the temples were beautiful to walk past.
There were plenty of natural rocks and river edges to stop at. It seemed that many families and groups of hikers had packed plenty of food to enjoy a small picnic along the way.
By this stage, we had just steadily gone up wooden steps built within the park and walked uphill. We had been walking for about maybe 2.5-3 hours to get here. It wasn’t until we reached the actual mountain that things got slightly harder. Bless my sister for preparing some gloves for us. The terrain turned from dirt, steps and leaves to now large rock formations. They have been carved and smoothed by all the hiking shoes and were very slippery. These wires have been installed along the area to help hikers pull themselves up and hold onto. I can say that they offered little help when doing back down.
Once we got to the
180 45 degree ascent to the peak, there was a human traffic jam of sorts. By this stage, it felt like we were climbing 180 degrees. The wires continued all the way up to the peak. Some of the rocks seem to have a foot ledge carved into the rock to help but by this stage, I was relying on the wire, arm strength and crawling on all 4’s to get me up to the top.
The view from the peak was….ok. I believe this was definitely not about the destination but the journey. We sat at the top to rest, take in the view and have some more snacks to prepare ourselves for the 180 degree descent.
On our way back, there were noticeable less people. I’m not sure whether it was because people generally go up and down before 2pm, turned back before the peak or they all went down a different way back. Luckily there were still a few people around to follow. Along the track back, we spent some of our time going along a different track from the one that we had taken up. Perhaps we were wrong the first time. We just kept following others who seemed to know the way. It was late afternoon by this stage and we had to hurry to make sure we were down before sun light was completely gone.
In total, it took us about 7 hours to reach the peak and come back. We did stop many times for breaks, to catch our breath and to take pictures. We stopped for dinner at one of the restaurants at the entry of the park and had ourselves a nice big meal complete with bulgogi (stir fried meat), pajeon (pancake, we went with the seafood option) and makgeolli (rice based alcoholic drink which is infamous as a hiking drink).