Thursday, October 31, 2013

Seoroksan Mountain

For chuseok(Korean thanksgiving) this year, we decided to go hiking on seoroksan mountain which is the 2nd highest mountain in Korea. 1708m about 700m higher than table mountain). When I first suggested this trip I assumed we would do the routes near one of the entrances where you could some temples, a giant bronze buddah and a few interesting rock formations. To my surprise however, the rest of the group decided they wanted to hike to the top! And since we were renting a car and going together I didnt have much choice besides to suck it up or sit alone at the bottom. I decided to suck it up! The hike from the one side to the top and then back down the other side is about a 13 hour hike. When I first heard 13 hours of hiking I almost fainted, I dont think Ive ever hiked for more than 2 hours in my life. Anyways since I honestly didnt think I would make 13 hours I decided to do some research on some other trails and found the shortest trail that gets you to the peak in about 4 hours and then about 2-3 hours down.
Now at that moment I didnt exactly stop to think why it was so short and realized all too late that it was because it was ridiculously steep and contained thousands upon thousands of steps!
The hike was only 5km but you literally go straight up, there are not many areas where you are walking horizontailly, its just 5km of vertical hell. There were 6 of us that went and Aubrey, Gareth, Liz and Paul are all ridiculously fit and then Caitlin and I were the ones who werent in as good shape as them so we lagged behind a tad. It took us about 5 hours to get up and I hated my life ALL the way up. There were points when I honestly just wanted to turn around and go home. I am so happy that I didnt! The view from the peak was absolutely breathtaking, I could have stared into the distance for hours. Seoroksan is almost like a mountain range in that it has various peaks surrounding it so when you are at the top you can see all the peaks and hills surrounding you. It was a beautiful day with only a few clouds and those clouds that were there, we were so high that we were actually above them. It was quite a bizarre feeling.
Now after this 5 hour hike up I was more than happy with going DOWN only to realize that going down such a steep slope really isnt as easy as you would think. I am not actually sure which was worse, I think my brain has protected itself from the terrible memories of that pain because I dont remember enough of it to compare. They were both unpleasant! Haha
At the bottom we were all in soo much pain that we booked ourselves into a jimjilbang which is a type of sauna in Korea. Kind of like public baths so you all go into the sauna area and there are many different baths of different temperatures and things like green tea baths and other such concoctions. The jimjilbangs are one part of Korean culture that kind of blow my mind. Koreans are so conservative and so self conscious about the way they look but then they will go and bath butt naked with hundreds of other woman. I would have assumed that having grown up with this part of their culture they would be a lot more confident in their bodies and the way they look. Anyways the jimjilbang saved our lives and we spent a good amount of time lounging in them to try and soak the pain away.
The next day we met Liz and Paul (who had camped on the mountain for the night) at an entrance on the other side of the park where I did at least get to see the giant bronze buddah and a temple J
Once we explored around there a bit we started the long drive back to Daegu by stopping off at a popular surfing beach for a dip and to soak up some sun.
Although I literally couldnt walk for the next two days the trip was amazing, one I would highly recommend but one that I am sure I wont be repeating anytime soon!!

This was maybe a quarter of the way in and I am already hating life.

Beautiful autumn foliage starting to come out

We made it!

Ecstatic to be at the top!