Seoraksan National Park III

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June 6th 2016
Published: September 17th 2016
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My third visit to Seoraksan National Park! Since I would be leaving Korea soon, I took the opportunity to visit Seoraksan again. The first time I went many years ago, I wasn't really that impressed, but when I visited back in December I realised why everyone falls in love with the place. This trip that I went on gave me the chance to explore a new part of this vast national park. We started at Jangsudae ranger station, which is at the western edge of the park, far from the coast and the main entrance. This trail would take us 11.3 kilometres in a north-west direction to Namgyori park ranger post. We all had to pose with a big banner about not smoking in the national park for the ranger. One of those experiences of living in a foreign country where you don't speak the language, so you don't know why it happened or for what purpose.

The first part of the trail was through the valley, which was nice and shaded. Then it started to get steeper. There were quite a few sets of stairs to climb as we as the steady incline of the mountain. It was pretty tiring. However as we got higher, the views got better. I could see different peaks in the park and lots and lots of trees. I could also see the road that we had travelled in on snaking through the rock and vegetation. After less than a kilometre we were meant to see Daeseung Waterfall, however due to a lack of rain, there was nothing to see. It is 88 metres high so it would have been nice to see if it had been in full flow. It is in the top three waterfalls in Korea. According to legend the falls are named after a late mother, who warned her son against danger. One day Daeseung had used a rope to climb down the cliff to pick some mushrooms, when he heard his deceased mother's voice calling him. As he climbed the rope, he saw a large centipede trying to bite through the rope. His late mother had saved his life. The first two kilometres of the trail were steep, but not too bad. I didn't need to sto for a rest too often. However the last 700 metres to the peak were steeper and this definitely had me huffing and puffing. We reached Daeseungryeong, which was 1,210 metres above sea level. It was lunchtime so we had a picnic just below the peak.

After finishing lunch a few of us were getting antsy, we wanted to get moving again. We followed the trail up and down and saw more gorgeous views of the surrounding scenery. We had done the short steep part of the hike, now it was the long downhill trek to end of the course. The second part of the hike was definitely the prettiest, however we had to wait to see the best bits. We walked by lots of water, shallow streams. We knew that there were more waterfalls on the trail and we were impatient to see them. We crossed a few bridges, the collapsed walkway across the water looked a little daunting but in reality it was fine. After 4.4 kilometres we can to some spectacular scenery. The landscape had changed a lot and instead of dense forest, we were in rocky surroundings. The area was lots of smooth rock with smaller copses of trees. We came to Dumun waterfall, which was stunning. It isn't big or fancy, just really pretty. The color of the water was amazing. We continued on, walking on the rock was a little more difficult as it was very smooth and steep. However there were lots of handrails to hold on to.

Soon, we came to the second waterfall, Yongtang waterfall. This one was also very pretty. The rock formed a kind of cave, and the waterfall flowed over the top and in to it. I really wished that it hadn't been roped off, it would have been a great place for a dip. There was an information board and I enjoyed reading the local folklore about Sibiseonnyeotang Valley. The area, which would be called Twelve Fairy Bathing Springs (bit of a mouth full), tells the legend of twelve fairies coming down from the heavens to take a bath. There were normally twelve pools in the area, but this was dependent on the season, amount of water in the area, and the angle the pools were viewed from. This pool and small waterfall Yongtang has another legend connected to it. A dragon used to come out from the back of the cave, and the area was used as a place to hold rituals to encourage rain, if there was a drought. It is also called Boksungatang due to its peach like appearance. From there we continued on. The path changed from rock back to earth and we were back under the shade of the trese. We also passed what looked like small valleys filled with rocks.

Hurray! We had made it to the end of the trail and we were the first ones there, well the first ones there that had completed the whole trail. I feel like I might almost be of a reasonable level of fitness now. To celebrate the end of the hike, we went to one of the small restaurants and ordered some seafood pajeon and beer. Sitting outside, it was a nice way to end the day as we waited for the others to return. Once pretty much everyone was there we got back on the bus. A couple of the blokes were really late back, so we were leaving them behind! I think we all felt awful about that and after hitting the main road and driving for about ten minutes we pulled over to wait for them as they were getting a lift up to meet us. Since today marked the end of a three day weekend the traffic was terrible. Distance wise the journey to Seoul isn't too far, but when it is taking several minutes to travel just one kilometre, you know you are in for a long trip back. Eventually, we arrived back to Seoul after many hours on the bus.

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