Dobongsan is part of Bukhansan National Park. It is easy to get to as it even has its own subway station. I have wanted to hike here for ages, but haven't had time and had heard the routes are quite tough. From the station, we took the road behind the station, not the one to the Iris Garden, and followed the street round. We walked past lots of shops and restaurants, before we reached the entrance to the park. This must have been a good ten to fifteen minute walk. I wasn't really looking at the signposts, so I don't know the trail we took, but it was a little strange at first. We were walking through a kind of valley, which was a bit wet and slippery due to the rain the day before. It didn't feel like a proper trail, so I'm not sure if it was. We came out near a temple, at the bottom of the stairs leading up to it. We didn't take the stair up to the temple, which I was a bit gutted about as the path leading up there was lined with lanterns in preparation for Buddha's Birthday.
We then started on
what must have been the proper trail as there were more hikers here, but not too many. The trail was quite rocky, so there was a lot of scrambling over the rocks as we got higher and higher. I really enjoyed the scrambling as it wasn't too difficult. We went up for maybe an hour and came to a flatish area, where we stopped to have lunch. We had some great views from here. I could see down to Seoul and across to the peaks of Dobongsan. I am not sure if it was the Uiam ridge we came up or if that would come later. We then continued on to reach the first peak. More great views were on offer as we sat atop the rock and soaked them in. We could just about make out Mangwolsa Temple in the distance. I found the CCTV camera at the top funny, Big Brother is always watching you! I was surprised at how easy I had found the hike so far, I had heard that Dobongsan was a tough mountain to climb. Only one part had been quite tough up the peak. Little did I know what was in store...
We came down the other side of the peak to what I think was 'Y Valley', which is a tough section to hike. It is technical and not really hiking, but trying not to fall going down the steep, narrow slope. I was holding on to the handrail and using it to help me down along with assistance from others. Then it was back up the other side. This was just as tough, as I had to use the handrails to haul myself up, and, I think, I got a few pushes from those below me. We then continued on a much easier trail to reach, what I think was the main peak in this part of the park, Sinseondae. This peak is 725 metres above sea level. It is another rocky outcrop, and I had to be careful about where I was placing my feet, as it wasn't the flattest of peaks. Still it was beautiful though.
From the peak, we took a different route down. The path was pretty easy, especially compared to the one we had come up. The paths were nice and wide and there was no scrambling over rocks. However they aren't signposted that
well, so sometimes we weren't sure if we had taken the correct route or not. But I suppose all the trails end at the start of the national park. We had gone in a circular shaped route, so the bottom looked a bit familiar. In the stream at the bottom I saw a rock, which had words carved on them. I'm sure for most people they aren't that interesting, but I find them really mysterious, as I can't read what is written on them. I think the writing on this one isn't too old. From there, it was back towards the subway station. We took our time as we looked in the various hiking stores to see what was on offer. As usual everything was very expensive and garish colours.
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