Sunday, October 10, 2004

New trail opens in Seoraksan

It's been a slow week for me. I had big plans to do a hike in Seoraksan but just felt too lazy. Here is the hike I would have done. From the Jungang Ilbo:

The western part of the highest peak, Daecheong, which stands
1,708 meters above sea level, is called "inner Seorak;" the other
side, closest to the ocean is called "outer Seorak." For the first
time in 20 years, hiking trails through the Heulim valley, which
is hidden between the rocky walls of Mount Manmulsang (A
Thousand Rock Shapes) and Chilhyeongje peak, will soon be
open to the public after having been closed for conservation
purposes. Lee Jong-seung, a 61-year-old hiker, guided our
group of reporters to the as-yet-inaccessible valley.

Park officials expect the valley to be open to the public in
time for the Chuseok holiday, which begins Sept. 27. Until
then, any attempt to navigate the passage without an
experienced guide would be difficult. In other words, don't
do what we did.

From a rest area in Hangye-ryeong, a two-kilometer
(1.2 miles) drive toward Yangyang on Highway 44 leads
our group to an abandoned parking lot. Two hundred
meters from here is a sign that reads, "No longer used
as climbing routes." This is where Heulim valley begins.

This Friday (I have the day off), I will try to get there. There is no bus stopping at Heulim Valley, so I think I have to go to Hangyeryoung and walk down the road for two kilometres.

Me with the fastest hiker I know. Posted by Hello

I hike pretty frequently in the cooler weather in Korea. In Canada, I hiked perhaps 10 times but went canoeing nearly every ice-free day. I'll be canoeing this December if I go home.

I hike, as most foreigners do, to enjoy the quiet and the scenery. We typically dress lightly and walk quickly. In Canada, I also hike to enjoy the wildlife, but I've seen enough chipmunks so there's not much in Korea to excite me. Most Koreans tend to hike to enjoy each others company and so dress warmly and walk slowly.

Having passed many Koreans on the trail -and if you've been to Seorak, you can understand that 'many' means 'a whole frickin lot' - I thought I was a pretty fast hiker. The man in the picture walked me into the ground. We traveled from O-saek to Biseon-dae in about 7 hours (about 16 km) and I actually ran a few times to catch up.

Anyway, look for a report on the trail next Saturday.

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