In late Spring I headed back to Seoraksan National Park with Seoul Hiking Group. My first hike took me on a 5 hour hike up Ulsanbawi before riding the cable car to another peak. My last trip with Seoul Hiking brought me to the awesomely adventurous Dinosaur Ridge and this one would feature Daecheongbong (Korea’s 3rd highest peak) and the lush valley below Dinosaur Ridge.
We begun at 3am with an incredibly steep incline up Daecheongbong. Staircases followed rocks and yet more staircases as our legs begged us to stop. We squeezed a few breaks in and just after sunrise arrived at Daecheongbong’s 1708m peak! While there we took a lengthy break for some breakfast and photo ops.
Today’s journey through Seorakssan would be much more leisurely than my last daring climb of Dinosaur Ridge. An hour after climbing down the other side of Daecheongbong we stopped for another nap at the ranger station.
The next leg was identical to my trek towards Dinosaur Ridge; a gradual downhill with Ulsanbawi, Dino Ridge and the gorgeous East Sea flanking the panoramic view. After a long lunch we left the next ranger station in search of Seoraksan’s valley. We were told there would be a marvelous flowing crystal clear river intertwined with pools and waterfalls.
The verdant lining of our path framed each pool; the deeper ones taking on a magnificent blue hue that created Seoraksan’s natural necklace. Sapphires pools set in copper or silver rocks surrounded by emerald leaves.
On our way down what better way to enjoy than napping in Spring’s afternoon sun. Another hour passed and each time my hiking buddies rotated through Seoul Hiking Group’s finest rookies and veterans.
Refreshed from our nap the next thing on our mind was how sweaty the day had made us. That grueling climb coupled with a beating sun made us begin the search for a cool pool to splash about in. Luckily the path was lined with potential ponds and it wasn’t long before we picked the perfect one. I jumped in with my hiking pants knowing they could use a cleaning and I could swap to my shorts after I finished.
The last leg of our hike grew steeper downhill before coming to the base of the river. Finally we met up with the rest of Seoul Hiking Group and joined in celebrating the nature-filled day with Dongdongju (a rice/corn fermented drink) and some pajeon. After our quick meal we settled in at our pension just north of Sokcho for an beach bonfire!
Check back soon for the rest of the excursion through Sokcho including a one of my first practical Korean usage at the fish market!