Seoraksan – Dinosaur Ridge

A 3am Seoraksan hike warranted a long lunch break, unfortunately we were on a tight schedule and left for Dinosaur Ridge after refilling water and a few quick bites.  Shortly after departing the shelter the real climb began.  There was one small forested valley before we were pulling ourselves up the first of many crazy cliffs.

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We had now idea how grueling our trek would be, luckily the first peak was the most difficult ascent.  Even more lucky was the spectacular blue sky we had above us.  Some of our companions have been on this trail 4 or 5 times but today was their first cloudless blue yonder.

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By now the sun was high overhead.  We had roughly 6 hours to tackle Dinosaur Ridge and Devil’s Ridge beyond.  If we took too long it would be a long walk or a pricey taxi to Sokcho and our pension (like a hostel without beds).  Thinking mostly of the gorgeous nature beneath us and not the pain in our legs we trekked onward.  The path was mostly inclines and declines with a few level paths mixed in.  These were often barely wide enough for 2-way traffic!

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The second peak was a “mild” one.  Well, that is to say we were already pretty high up and only descended about a hundred meters before having to climb back up.  I found myself trailing our group between my regular photo stops and water breaks on this grueling endeavor.

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Hiking, okay fine, climbing Dinosaur Ridge in Seoraksan National Park

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Hiking Dinosaur Ridge in Seoraksan National Park

Hiking Dinosaur Ridge in Seoraksan National Park

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The second peak turned into a beautiful plateau before quickly giving way to another spectacular climb.  At least there wasn’t an insane downhill this time too!

Hiking Dinosaur Ridge in Seoraksan National Park

Hiking Dinosaur Ridge in Seoraksan National Park

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Hiking Dinosaur Ridge in Seoraksan National Park

Hiking Dinosaur Ridge in Seoraksan National Park

Of course the flat trail didn’t last long.  Ropes and poles aided our struggle before the stony “steps” came back to bring us up to the next peak.  This was a tough one and we managed to find a “detour” with a spectacular view.

Not really a "path" on Dinosaur Ridge!

Climbing Dinosaur Ridge!

Climbing Dinosaur Ridge!

Climbing Dinosaur Ridge!

Climbing Dinosaur Ridge!

Climbing Dinosaur Ridge!

Dinosaur Ridge!

Tom on Dinosaur Ridge!

Dinosaur Ridge!

Darren on Dinosaur Ridge!

Dinosaur Ridge!

Me on Dinosaur Ridge!

After taking a short trip “off trail” to snag shots of the greenery below and monstrous mountains above we were on our way again.   Once we got to the top we took another quick break before heading down a slippery gravel slope.  At the bottom we were rewarded with another flat trail in full Spring bloom!

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Stunning view of Seoraksan National Park from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

Up and up we went, yet again.  By now the sun was coming on strong; a few of our fairer friends lathered up with sunscreen while the rest of us took a snack break and posed in front of yet another stunning backdrop! _DSC3310 _DSC3319 _DSC3324 _DSC3326 _DSC3334

Tatiana on Dinosaur Ridge

Tatiana on Dinosaur Ridge

Jordan on Dinosaur Ridge

Jordan on Dinosaur Ridge

 

Me on Dinosaur Ridge

Me on Dinosaur Ridge

We had to be close right?  4, maybe 5 peaks now and we were all exhausted.  Maybe that next one is the start of Devil’s Ridge?  Truth was no one really knew how much further it was but we knew we had to keep going!

Stunning view of Seoraksan National Park from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

Stunning view of Seoraksan National Park from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

Stunning view of Seoraksan National Park from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

Stunning view of Seoraksan National Park from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

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Wait a minute.  This downhill has lasted quite a while.  I don’t see another peak ahead of me, just trees.  The steps became actual steps instead of grooves in the mountain.  Even so it was a LONG way down.  Luckily we ran into some baby pine cones to distract me.  Yeah, I guess sometimes I am THAT easily amused.

Stunning view of Seoraksan National Park from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

Stunning view of Seoraksan National Park from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

Stunning view of Seoraksan National Park from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

Stunning view of Seoraksan National Park from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

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Stunning view of Seoraksan National Park from the top of Dinosaur Ridge

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“The way down”

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PINECONES BABIES!

Just a little further we kept telling ourselves.  Those with sore legs at the top were enjoying that special “popping” sound every few steps.  Those with actual knee or leg problems took regular breaks.  We still had about 2 hours until the bus leaves.  White blossoms weren’t enough of a distraction anymore. But wait; look, there’s the valley!  We can make it!

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Finally in the lush valley beneath Seoraksan’s Dinosaur Ridge!

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“The way down”

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Finally, the river was in our sights!  The last moments of our hike along this marvelously flat trail were accentuated by the gorgeous mountain water flowing beside us.  It could have brought tears to my eyes if we weren’t so dehydrated from that climb!  What better thing to do when dehydrated after a huge hike than grab some dongdongju?  Dongdongju is a traditional Korean liquor similar to Makkeoli but tastier and slightly higher proof.  Don’t worry mom, we got more water, & some delicious pajeon too!  All the while we spotted some even crazier climbers scaling a cliff.

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Big Buddha says Goodbye Seoraksan!

Big Buddha says Goodbye Seoraksan!

Stay tuned for my adventure back to Seoraksan 3 weeks later where I skipped dinosaur ridge in lieu of the lush valley below

 


11 thoughts on “Seoraksan – Dinosaur Ridge

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    • Yeah it is a tough hike! I’ve got a bit of practice hiking with my camera and actually opted to carry a lot less gear this time. Let me know next time you go and maybe I can tag along as the photog 🙂

      Like

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  7. Hello! Do you need a guide for some of the routes or are all the routes possible to do by yourself? We are 3 guys who are thinking about going to Seoraksan next week (May 9th), is spring one of the peak seasons ( a.k.a hordes of other hikers…?) Should we postpone our trip until late may?

    We would like to sleep over at the mountain for one night. What route would you recommend for us? (The harder the better, more or less)

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christopher,

      You can certainly do the hikes without a guide but you stand the risk of taking a wrong turn. Wherever you go in Seoraksan you will definitely enjoy yourself!

      The peak season is fall since Seoraksan is known for fall colors but it will still be busy all year round. I don’t think late may will be any different from this weekend. In fact it might be worse with Buddha’s Birthday

      In order to sleep on the actual mountain you need a Korean to call and reserve one of the bunks. I hear they go on sale a month in advance and sell out almost immediately. I reommend staying at one of the hotels/hostels/pesions near the bottom of the park. There are tons of them and they are reasonably priced.

      If you can handle a difficult path then head in through the main entrance, pass the big buddha & temple taking the left fork. You’ll pass one final restaurant along the river and then come to a bridge with another fork. Left is up the valley and will take you to Daecheongbong (highest peak. decent view but not as good as others in the park) Before you get there you pass 2 lodges. I recommend going to the first lodge for a break but then turning around and taking the first left. This takes you towards Dinosaur Peak (hardest & most amazing views). The first peak is the best and you could turn around from there or continue onward. Altogether you are looking at at least 12-14 hours on the trail.

      You can also take the first right after the restaurant. There’s an amazing view after TONS of stairs to a tiny little cave temple. It also is the exit to Dinosaur Ridge so an alternate route around.

      Another option is joining Seoul Hiking Group when we go at the end of May. I’ll be there and leading a different hike which starts at 3am at the base of Daecheongbong. Check us out on Facebook.

      Good luck! Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. I look forward to hearing how it went 🙂

      Like

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