Mountain rescue with park rangers – Wunaksan

 

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A day trip to Wunaksan was full of blue skies and cheery friends as the beautiful scenery slid by.  We climbed around bends, up stairs and enjoyed fresh mountain air joking about everything appropriate and significantly less so.  Naughty nicknames, dirty jokes and cries of awe made our trail the perfect place for a Sunday.

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It was a chilly winter day although not quite as frigid as my last winter hike.  Luckily hiking warms you up and we quickly took a few layers off.  Even so, before I knew it I was sweating so much that I attached my jacket to my backpack as the ice & snow began mixing into with our trail.

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Slipping and sliding along ironically someone ALWAYS fell when we discussed hiking boots, slippery spots or the necessity of crampons (spikes).  This brought about even more bouts of laughter when suddenly, the main peak came into view!  I scrambled up the rock for a better view while the rest of my party opted for the easier trail around.  We posed for a few GoPro selfies as I envisioned the beautiful panorama seen below.

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Wunaksan Panorama

The section ahead looked treacherous.  It was barely wide enough for one.  Fortunately a fallen tree acted as a handrail and the ice wasn’t too bad.  Suddenly I heard Warren shouting.

“SEOUL HIKING GROUP!”

“When I say Seoul, you say HIKING!”

We excitedly joined in when it abruptly changed to “1, 2, 3 SUZY!” (not her real name).  We followed along not quite sure why the change but shouted with him while hiking.  Moments later we found him in a panicked phone call.

“Can’t you just climb down?” “What do you mean you’re stuck?”

“1, 2, 3 SUUUZZZZYYYY!”

The worst had happened.  A hiker was lost and panicking alongside our fearless leader.  Warren’s stress level was rising, and the language barrier wasn’t helping.  I immediately took over. Continue reading

Lunar New Year on a mountain in Bukhansan

When Seoul shuts down for a national holiday the first thing I think of is “where should I hike?”  Lunar New Year followed my Chuseok and Christmas traditions and brought me to an empty Bukhansan National Park.   My plan was to hike up Juanbong like my first hike and then cross the ridgeline into “uncharted territory” to arrive at Jubong, a peak I discovered with my brother.

As you scroll through these pictures, don’t forget to click away; I promise they are better in high resolution! (especially the panoramic shots)

I started out at a steady pace up the trail as the paved road gave way to a rocky path.  Pausing, I periodically snapped photos of my journey on this warm January day.  On this solo hike I enjoyed taking my time and venturing off the path into the trees and took a moment beneath a few for a photoshoot trying to catch Juanbong behind the nearby leafless beasts.

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Moments later I was back on and then quickly off of the path again trekking through the leaves to a small ice formation.  This subtle reminder that it was in fact winter prompted me to lean in the small cave and capture these frozen sculptures before walking along a riverbed.

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After drying up, the flow had been replaced by leaves now crunching beneath my feet.  Suddenly I happened upon the water source for the nearby Buddhist temple.  A small still pond reflected the frozen waterfall along the rock face nearby.  I sat and pondered my next move, should I go back down to the path or keep trekking through the leaves?

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I opted to climb the next ledge and hop over another leaf-laden riverbed.  A few moments later I was back on the trail and found an icy welcome before coming upon the Buddhist temple.  Every time I get here I try to snap a shot of the metallic Buddhas with Juanbong as a backdrop.  The lighting is difficult with dark figures in foreground and a bright a blue sky above when I really want to capture that white mountain!

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The temple was eerily quiet on this Lunar New Year; I found it peaceful and cherished the refreshing mountain air with a dazzling view of Seoul below the trees.  The scene from up here always stuns me for a second but then I remember how much better it gets as I climb.

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Continue reading