Suraksan


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August 22nd 2015
Published: September 4th 2015
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Another day, another hike! After last week's escapades of climbing Jirisan, I opted for something a little more low key this week. Suraksan seemed to fit the bill perfectly. It wasn't too far away in Northern Seoul and only took about an hour on the subway from Gangnam. It is really easy to get to as it even has its own subway stop. I bought some rations at the convenience store in the station to keep me going and then I was on my merry way. I came out of the exit, I forget which number, but it tells you that it is for the provincial park and took the third street to my right. It was nice to get off the main road and I envied all the people that live in these apartment blocks, they have great access to the mountain. It was a short walk, maybe 5 minutes to the entrance to the park.

Suraksan is quite a big provincial park and there are quite a few different entrances around, covering a few different subway stops. I had previously walked around the edge of the park a few months ago. There are loads of different trails to
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Suraksan Provincial Park
choose from. I had a quick look at the map at the entrance, I made a very ambitious plan. I intended to head to the suraksan peak then to Dosolbong Peak, and then try to find a trail that would take me to Bulamsan, the neighbouring mountain. Yeah, that didn't work out at all. The trail started off very easily. There were lots of people picnicking and chilling on the rocks in the river. The trail started to gradually get steeper. Lots of things were falling of the trees, I would walk and something would drop in front of me or behind me. It was freaking me out! I felt like I was bring followed.

It was only a couple of kilometres to the peak, but it was so hot and humid! I had to take lots of water breaks. The first part of the path wasn't too difficult, although some of the rock steps were quite big. As I got higher I came out of the valley and could see the surrounding area. I love seeing all huge urban area, with row and row of high rise apartments nestled between the mountains. The trail started to get a lot more technical. Gone were the woody trails and now it was all flat smooth rock. Luckily there are lots of ropes and metal fences to haul yourself up on. It wasn't too difficult. I am glad it wasn't busy, so I could take my time. There were lots of great viewpoints. There were also some sets of proper stairs to break up the more taxing rock trails.

I came out on a clearing, where lots of people were sitting about, it is about 200 metres shy of the peak, and a nice place to sit and have a picnic. Unfortunately, I had already stopped and ate my snacks. I headed on to the peak. It was only a quick scramble up some rocks. The peak is 638 metres above sea level. There isn't too much space there, so my stay was brief. There was a couple with a cooler selling water, other drinks, and ice creams. I was really thirsty so I paid their extortionate 2,000 won for a small bottle of water. In fact, I bought two and downed one immediately. I snapped some pics of the peak and had a look at the views. They were nice, but the views on the way up were better, as the peak kind of faces in a different direction.

From the peak I headed back down, I looked at the notice board that was just at the bottom of the steps by the peak. It seemed to suggest that I could take the path to the right of me and that would lead me to Dosolbong. I was confused as I had seen another sign earlier that had said to head back more to the way I had come from. Sometimes I find the signs in the parks a bit too vague, especially if you don't have a good sense of direction, like me. I asked some old men if I was heading the correct way to where I wanted to be. They told me I was, the liars! It was either a case of they were just telling me what I wanted to hear or they didn't know the route very well either. I hadn't got very far, when I realised that I was descending pretty quickly.

I came across a water spring, and there were a few people sitting around there. There was some kind of structure, which had people inside of it. I don't know whether it was a restaurant, house, or just a makeshift kind of shelter. It was less than two kilometers from the peak to Naewonam. The route down didn't take too long, but it was a bit tricky in parts, as the trail was close to water. I think someone must have gotten hurt on the trail as I saw four young, fit lads hiking up with a stretcher. There were mountain rescue, I think. I reached Naewonam pretty quickly. It was a tiny little temple, very pretty and peaceful as I find all temples to be. I had a quick look around, although there wasn't too much to look at only a couple of buildings were open to the public. The rest were locked up, I presume it's where the monks live.

I hiked further down the valley. I knew that I was in totally the wrong place and had no idea where I would end up. It was stunning walking through the valley, it was sunny and gorgeous! I could hear a helicopter overhead, but I couldn't see it. I wonder if it was going to the same place as the mountain rescue guys. As I neared the end of the trail, there was a cute little old school style restaurant. It looked like it hadn't changed for years. The best thing about the restaurants was the tables. They had them set up in the stream opposite. I think it is such a lovely idea, especially after a hike, take your boots off, cool your feet in the river, eat some food and drink some makgeolli.

I reached the end of the provincial park as was surprised to find that I was in Namyangju. I thought Namyangju was miles away. It's obviously a lot closer than I thought. I got a pleasant surprise as I left the park. There were loads of restaurants that had built little dams to pool the water and there were loads of people swimming there. Some of the poos were quite big, and people were floating in tubes. The area was really alive and had a great party atmosphere to it. I wish I could go back in the future and chill there. It was such a surprise, I've never come across anything like it before. I came to a little village, which seemed to be pensions and restaurants. I had looked at some maps earlier, which had shown that there was a bus stop nearby. I saw some people heading off to the left down a country road, which seemed to lead to a main road. I decided to follow them, hoping the bus stop was in that direction. What a stroke of luck! The bus stop was there, however I didn't know which side of the road I needed to be on and there was scant info on the bus stop. I let the first bus pass, then when the second bus turned up, I saw the sign in the front windscreen saying that it was headed to Dangogae Station. The journey wasn't too long and I was back in civilization.


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