Jirisan National Park


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Asia » South Korea » Jeollanam-do
May 17th 2015
Published: May 20th 2015
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We arrived at Jirisan about 3:45 am. The bus journey up to the pass was pretty hairy. Normally, the driving skills of the bus driver don't bother me, but this time I was scared. We got out at the parking lot and were treated to a sky full of stars. It was so beautiful. There is so much light pollution where I live, I haven't seen the stars like this in years. The car park was quite busy for this time in the morning, there were about 5 other buses parked up. This isn't the normal trail that people do when coming to Jirisan, most people do the hike that goes to the biggest peak in the park.

We started hiking at 4 am. It was pitch black. I love hiking in the dark like this. It is much cooler without the sun's rays beating down on you. We hiked for maybe thirty to forty minutes until we reached what I think was the first smaller peak. It was so peaceful, there weren't many other hikers about. The trail was quite small and the bushes around it were quite dense. By the time we reached the first small peak, the sun was starting to rise in the sky. There was a gorgeous reddy orange glow coming from the horizon. You could also make out the blue of the sky around the sun. The hike wasn't too challenging, since we had started at Jeongryeongchi Pass, we were already at an elevation of 1,172 metres. it was mainly along the ridge line, so it wasn't too steep going up or down.

It was gorgeous walking along and seeing the sun rise higher in the sky, and being able to now see the landscape in which we were hiking. Jirisan is absolutely gorgeous. From where we were hiking we could see the main peak and its surrounding peaks just across the way. Every where was just so green. I also really liked the way the different peaks were silhouetted by the sun and shadow. We reached an outcrop of jagged rocks that we climbed up to survey the area. On one side there were the many peaks of Jirisan national park and on the other side there was a town or village, which was surrounded by, what looked like to me, salt flats. It took us a few hours to reach the peak Segeolsan, after stopping for a few breaks. It definitely felt much later in the day, about 11 am, but in reality it was only about 7 am. I'm definitely not used to starting so early in the morning. We didn't really stay at this peak very long, even though there was a nice platform where people could sit and have a picnic. As we were hiking we came across a few small camping areas, I was surprised to see them on the trail. Jirisan National Park is also home to the moon bears and there were a few signs on the trail warning people to be cautious and the proper etiquette to adhere to if they saw a bear. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately, we didn't see any.

I was getting tired by this point, after a few more kilometres, I was happy to see Pallangchi, where the Azaleas were growing. It was nice to see their purpley pink colour brightening up the green of the forest and grass. The Azaleas forest isn't man made. I think they are so prominent because a few decades ago, the government tried to cultivate sheep farming in the area, I presume it didn't succeed as we didn't see any sheep, the sheep ate all the grass, but didn't touch the Azalea flowers. It was nice to wander down to the flowers and the first part was quite densely packed with Azalea bushes. Also it was pretty quiet, which was an added bonus. There was only one or two families there, meaning it was easier to take photos without a million people being in them.

I wandered along the trail, which was surrounded by Azaleas, it was so pretty. I walked up the hill and came to the main area for the flowers. This place was a lot busier, as it was a great resting place. There were loads of hiking groups chilling out on the grass. I found a spot and had something to eat, and then laid down to rest my eyes for a little while. However I didn't rest for too long, as I started to feel cold. I continued through all the Azaleas. We then hit a path, which forked either up to the peak or down to the village, where the bus would be picking us up. The peak was only 600 metres away, so we continued on. The trail up to the peak was easy for the first 400 metres, but the last 200 metres were tough, it was pretty much straight up. Those 200 metres were a bugger, and I was knackered by the time I got to the peak, Baraebong. However I'm glad I made it! The views were stunning from up here too. The funny thing is this peak is 1,167 metres high, so it actually lower than the place where we started.

I was knackered by this point, and my feet were hurting. Luckily, the three kilometres down to the village, was mostly on a paved flat slope so it was a bit of respite. While my hike had started really quiet, there were points when I was alone on the trail, it didn't finish that way. There were about a million people heading up to the peak from the village. This part of the trail did feel like it was taking forever, I think mainly due to my tiredness. Although the ice cream I had from a vendor along the way perked me up a little. We finally reached the end of the trail and headed down to the village to get some food and drink. We arrived around midday. The seafood pancake was delicious and we partook in some Jirisan herb Makgeolli, too. It was good and hit the spot after the long hike.


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