Sunday, 9 December 2012

Myeongjisan, where Winter meets Fall: Part 1

Having recently enjoyed a short night-hike in Seoul, I decided to sign up for the Seoul Hiking Group’s hike to the summit of Myeongjisan, one of the highest mountains in Gyeonggi Province (which surrounds Seoul). We did the trek at a great time of year, since the trail was still coloured with the shifting red and brown tones of autumn, yet there was also some early snow, marking the onset of winter.

This map shows Myeongjisan's location (blue) within Gyeonggi Province (pink).
Most of us met at Yongsan Station in Seoul, where we waited for a bus to take us into the mountains.
This was my first time out of Seoul, and I finally got to see some of Korea's stunning, mountainous scenery. 

It was a quiet Sunday morning and many of the towns and villages we passed through seemed almost deserted. There were a lot of places that really reminded me of how I imagine parts of North Korea to be: stark and ghostlike.

We arrived near Gapyeong at the foot of the mountain.
After stretching our legs, we immediately followed Warren, leader of the SHG, up the snow-encrusted paths towards the mountain. 
Hiking is popular among the Korean people, whose country is almost entirely made up of mountains.

Warren showed us the route we were going to take up the mountain. It would take about four hours to ascend the mountain and another three to descend.

We made a brief detour down some steps to a creek.

Back on the trail.

We passed quite a few streams and creeks during our ascent. It often felt like we were walking through a real life Skyrim.
Sometimes the path would feel very autumnal...
...while other times the trees were more bare and the snow much thicker and wintery.
Taking photos of another creek.

Resting and snacking a third of the way up the mountain.
The toughest part of the trail was this long section of steep stairs, which went on for about an hour. Granted, the rope/railing helped us keep balance, but after climbing hundreds of steps our thighs and calves began to feel like jelly (or at least, mine did).

Though tired from the climb, we kept morale high by throwing snowballs at one another.
Click here for Part 2 of this post.

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