Seoul Trail #3: Godeok Iljasan Course

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January 9th 2016
Published: February 27th 2016
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Trail three starts at Gwangnaru Station and ends at Suseo Station. It is 26.1 kilometres long and is given a rating of easy. The estimated time to complete the course is nine hours, so today would be a long day. The trail is divided into three sections, Gwangnaru Station to Godeok Station, Godeok Station to Bangi Ecological Wetlands, and then from the Wetland Centre to Suseo Station. I left Gwangnaru Station around 8:30 am. The first part of the trail is ten kilmometres exactly. I followed the Seoul Trail signs, crossing the road and turning left. I hadn't done this part of the Seoul Trail before, so I had to pay a bit more attention than usual when looking for the trail markers. I thought that I must have gone the wrong way, as I hadn't come across the stamp box. However, I could see trail markers, so I knew I was going in the right direction. I got my map out to check and say that the stamp box was quite far away from the station.

The stamp box is located just in front of the bridge. I got my first stamp of the day and headed across the bridge. Gwanjin Bridge was a lot longer than I expected. The views were very urban lots of cars and motorways, but quite pretty,too. One of the best things about starting so early in the winter is that the sun was still rising in the sky. As I crossed the bridge, I got some nice views of the sunrise. I recognised the funny shaped apartment building on the other side of the river. I totally knew where I was, and here was me thinking that I was walking a virgin part of the trail. I had walked along this part of the Han before, when a friend lived close by. From the bridge I walked down the ramp and through Hangang Park, the park that runs alongside the river. It was very quiet and there weren't too many people about. I could see some small plane/drone type things flying in the air. There was an aerial airfield and there were quite a few people out flying their planes. They had these nifty little tents that they could sit in to stay warm when it wasn't their turn.

The signs told me to head right out of the park. I walked through a tunnel and came to the road. I crossed the road and walked along before turning again. This area had lots of flower shops, which all looked a bit depressing. I think it is because it is winter so they don't have any pretty flowers outside. I was walking into a proper urban area here, however it wasn't for too long and I took another turning and was back on a quieter road. I came across Amsa-dong Prehistoric Settlement Site, it was about 9:20 am and the site didn't open until 9:30 am. It was too cold to stand around wait for it to open, but I hope I came make it back in the future, as I would like to see the old mud huts that people lived in.

The next part of the trail was a little weird as it felt like I was walking on wasteland. There were a few container offices and nothing else around. There was what looked like a park off to the other side, but the trail had indicated to go this way. There was a huge collection of crap piled up, there was even a couple of very knackered looking porta-potties. I was also right next to a very busy motorway, the perks of city hiking! Luckily, the trail headed upwards and then away from the motorway. I passed a small area of farmland, where some people were tending to their stuff. There was also a big building, which I think was a water treatment plant. Then it was back into the woods. There was a tiny liitle shack in the woods, I would live to know what it was used for and if it is still used. Guess, I'll just have to keep on wondering. Further on, I came across some squirrels running about in the trees. I love seeing squirrels, so I stopped to watch them playing. They were so cute!

The next part f the trail was in a very old, poor looking neighbourhood. The buildings just looked so decrepit. I was definitely glad I didn't live there. However, to brighten the place up, there were some pretty murals painted on the walls. I also came across the second stamp box near Godeok Station and added the next stamp to my growing collection. From there I headed through Myeongil Park towards Iljasan. Even though it was still early, I was starving. It must be the cold and the paltry breakfast I had eaten. As you climb up through the park, there is a deck area with picnic benches, so I sat there to eat a very early lunch, it must have only been about 10:30 am. The view, while not the prettiest, totally summed up Korea for me. I could see lots of new apartment building being built. I really do wonder if this country will ever be finished.

I continued on, and came to Iljasan, which is really a small hill, not a mountain. The trail seemed to skirt around the edges of it. I came across an old abandoned apartment complex. I really wish that I could have gone in for a wander around. It looked so interesting. I really love the mix of old and new here. One minute, you will be in an old worn down neighbourhood, walk ten minutes and you can be in a brand spanking new place. I passed through a rural looking area, which had lots of burial mounds. This part of the trail was quite busy, normally I don't see a lot of people about, but there were lots of dog walkers. I was then walking along side a busy road, which again had lots of flower and gardening shops along it. I was glad when the trail turned off onto a quieter road.

I came across the third stamp box. It was outside of the Bangi-dong Ecological Wetland Centre, well I think it was called something like that. Only eight and a half kilometres to go. I was knackered, hungry and thirsty. However, I wanted to keep going and complete today's trail. I walked through some allotments and came to the Seongnaecheon (Seongnae Stream). The first part was quite quiet, but the further along I go the more developed and busier it was. I really enjoyed this part of the trail. The stream was pretty to walk besides. There were also plenty of benches to take a rest and watch the world go by. I also got a bit carried away walking along the stream, and I had also spotted a convenience store, so I headed up there to replenish my snacks and water supply. Then I headed back down to the stream. I was a bit concerned as I hadn't seen a Seoul Trail sign in a while, but I was enjoying my walk, there were ducks playing happily in the stream, so cute. I reached the end of the stream, where there is a small waterfall, it had frozen in parts and looked really pretty. I headed up to the main road and could see no signs for the trail. I sat and ate my snack before retracing my steps.

I walked back along the stream and saw the signpost up on the road pointing in the direction I should have taken. I realised that I had been too distracted by the sight of the convenience store and filling my belly, that I had totally missed the marker to head up to the main road. The next part was walking along by a busy road, not so nice, but it wasn't for too long. Then I came down to a quieter more park like area. This seemed to be a new part of the city as there were lots of fancy new big buildings there. i was also walking along side the Tancheon River. I only had a couple kilometers left to go and I was willing myself on with every step. I was totally talking to myself in my heads, telling myself I could do it. The river isn't very pretty and the water level was quite low, I wished that it had looked a bit nicer as this may have helped my motivation. Although a nun cycling past on her bike was a very cute scene.

I headed up the steps and came across the fourth and final stamp box for the day. My feet were dead, I was so happy to get my final stamp. The trail had took me seven hours, which was well under the guideline of nine hours. From the bridge, it was a short, maybe a maximum of ten minutes, to get to Suseo Station. I was glad that I managed to complete the whole of trail three, but I think it would probably be better to split it into two, maybe do the first part separately and then do the second and third parts together.

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