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

Jirisan: the ascent – Seoul Hiking Group

Getting on a bus at 10:30pm to wake up at 3:00am for a hike might not be most people’s idea of a great weekend but with Jirisan on the mind it sounded great to me!  I met Warren, Breanne (shoutout to you and the rest of the helpers cause you rule!) and the rest of the day’s crew at the bus; promptly fell asleep and woke to find myself entering Jirisan National Park with Seoul Hiking Group. The climb began in pitch black with numerous head lamps and flashlights.  I lent my extra torch to a rookie hiker after strapping my own head lamp on.  Jirisan is South Korea’s highest mainland peak (bested only by Hallasan on Jeju Island).  With my first starry sky in all too long I could quickly tell the way crazy morning would be worth it._DSC2425 The steep hike brought us higher and higher and by our second water break the birds began to sing and the black night reced, turning into deep blue as dusk showed its head.  Misty hills now visible in the distance, we kept climbing. _DSC2451 _DSC2431 Another hour and the sun began to crest with an orange glow.  The beautiful valleys below finally illuminated for a picturesque landscape.  The sun also revealed our daunting goal, Cheonwangbong, Jirisan’s illustrious highest peak! _DSC2467 _DSC2483 Stowing our headlamps and my tripod the hike kept going.  Our climb grew even more difficult as the rocky steps gave way for staircases and the occasional pole/rope series to pull ourselves up. _DSC2486 _DSC2479 _DSC2503 _DSC2504 We took regular breaks for our legs and delicious mountain water gave everyone a chance to get to know our fellow hikers.  The shining sun and light hearted spirit that nature brings out made the strain of the climb dissipate as we shared our hiking snacks and pushed upward! _DSC2507

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