Finally on top of AnsanSeoraksan Hike, Day2
Sitting in the wind on our peak in the clouds. 1432m from a 200m base.
Darrell and Cathy
As is typical our our nights in the tent, we managed to get about 12 hours of sleep until at 7am we were woken by a sound something between a loud scratching and a bark from just outide the tent. As I slowly got my bearing and remembered we were high up in the mountains I realised how out of place the sound was. After banging on the side of the tent and shouting a few times, I unzipped the door in time to see a bear about 2/3 of my size running away. When he got about 30m away, he stopped, turned, let off a few more bark/growls and then headed back into the woods. Awesome. We had been told about the bears, but had not really expected to run into one. I guess he was attracted by the smell of last night's supper pot.
Cathy had also been woken by the sound, so we took it as our wake up call. We ate our other can of tinned fruit, enjoying every sip of the sweet syrup. We had to forgo the coffee for a few sips of the water, to keep ourselves from dehydrating any more. With
Wet to the bone
Hiking down through the forest with the sound of rain on the trees - fantastic!
our packs back on our backs we headed off in the direction of the distant Ansan peak.
Almost as soon as we headed off, we found a path to follow. It had obviously not been used much, and we lost it several times, but it did take us along the ridge path we had planned to follow and just the evidence of someone else having done the trail before was rather comforting. At least we wouldn't suddenly find ourselves at the top of an unpassable cliff.
Following the path also did a lot to raise our spirits and our speed. Although Ansan was still further than we had expected (as always), within about two hours we suddenly popped out onto a small, very windy open viewpoint wich was quite clearly far higher than anything else within the miles we could see in every direction. Having been fooled so many times, we were hardly prepared to finally be on top of the elusive peak. But here it was, and it was beautiful. We opened a bag of skittles in celebration.
We didn't stay very long, we were both quite keen to start heading downwards. We had been hiking
The river we were following down the mountain
Turns out following the river isn't the best way down the mountain. Thankfully all the workers had left the path open for us.
away from water for so long and the idea of the cool spring water in the valley we would be taking down out of the mountains was enough to keep us moving. Within an hour of steep downhill, we found what we were looking for. The river water was sweet and icy cold. Because of our initial plan to hike along the river, we had carried far too little water. Yesterday we had each only drank about 1 litre over the course of our 6-hour tough, sweaty hike. And the remaining 500ml each had been used up a sip at a time over the morning's 3 hours of hiking. With full water bottles and a instantly improved mood, we picked up the pace down the ever-improving path to the south of the park.
As we approached the more accessible parts of the park we could hear people working on the trail in the valley below us. Expecting to finally get in trouble for being where we should not be, we continued down the valley. Just before we got to where the construction was being done, it started to rain and by the time we got down, everyone had packed
Our Korean benefactor
The kind man who insisted that we use his umbrella while waiting for the bus
up and left, leaving an empty trail for us to use. Thanks Dad! It was a good thing too, because we found that the river we were following plunged over a 50m drop to for a really impressive waterfall. The only way down was to use the steel stairs and ladders built along the rocks that the men we'd heard earlier had been working on.
At the end we went off the trail again to avoid comming out of the closed trail at the south entrance gate. With ourselves and the forest drenched by the rain, this meant mostly slipping and sliding on pine needles between trees in the rain for 45mins. As you can guess, by the time we reached the road that runs along the south border of the park we were not exactly squeaky clean.
We walked along the road to the park entrance to catch a bus back to Sokcho. As things turned out, the building just before the park's office was a bathroom! It's amazing how refreshed you feel after a quick rinse down and a clean(er) pair of clothes!
After a few inquiries and some misunderstandings, we found ourselves with a
The Seoraksan mountains
Looking back at the mountain reaching into the clouds. Finally back on flat ground, it's almost immediately as if the whole thing was just a dream
90 min wait in the rain for the bus. Our first hour a local guy brought us his umbrella and then despite our protesting, crouched under a tree in the rain while we sat dry on a mat he brought us, with our packs under a plastic sheet he got for us! These people continue to amaze us.
After a while we were invited into the park ranger's office for coffee, and ended up catching a ride with them to another nearby town where we could get a bus back home. Sittin gin the bus on the way home we realised that it was the toughest days of hiking either of us have done (and we've both done a bit). From our dry, shoe-off position on the bus home, it seemed like the most fantastic weekend in the mountains ever, and that's how we'll remember it. But at the time there were several parts where the sense of humour became as scarce as our water, and we took it in turns to encourage one another as these episodes passed.
Looking back on it we laugh and smile, but try to keep in mind that it wasn't all so easy and many lessons were learnt along the way...
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