Naejangsan National Park

Almost the end of hiking season for me! Just one more trip to go I think before I give up to the cold. Winter hiking is actually really popular here but I don’t think I will make it in the end… Another year!

I went with the meetup group Climbing in Korea again and this time the weather was against us. Everyone at the very busy guesthouse this weekend said it was rain all weekend, everywhere, but I stayed in denial until the last minute!

We met for the bus at 7:15am and snoozed for a few hours, arriving at Naejangsan Park around 11:00. The idea was to hike over 3 peaks and make our way to Naejangsa Temple by 4:00 and back to the bus by 5:00.

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In typical Korean fashion, we started up many many stairs. No messing around with zig zag routes here, they just send us straight up to the clouds!!

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After about an hour or so thinking “hiking in the rain isn’t so bad really,” we made it to a divide and regrouped and proposed making two groups – 1 to go down into the valley after the first peak and the other to continue to the other 2 peaks. Basically no one wanted to be the ones to be less ambitious so we all continued together to see how things went. We got to Bulchulbong (622m) and this was the point where we realized we were CRAZY.

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It was so windy and the rain was slapping us in the face so much that we just were dying to find a little bit of shelter, so in the end we all took plan B and started down into the valley. Even with the fog and clouds, we were able to catch glimpses of the view – the colors were still there and it would have been gorgeous with a clear day.

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We smelled some ramen and eventually found a few groups of Korean hikers huddled under a wall/cave so we joined them for our lunch break too. Finally the wind didn’t block out all sound so we could talk to some more of the hikers and we reunited with some teacher friends and met a bunch of guys from Samsung! We chatted our way down to Wonjeokam Temple…

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… And then we continued to Naejansa Temple. Beautiful colors everywhere! It definitely made it worth the cold and rain.

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From Naejangsa it was about an hour to get back to the bus, and we ended up walking through a little market they had there – got hotteok, a sort of sweet pancake filled with caramel and nuts, and others had some octupus, roasted nuts, and there were even creepy people in costumes singing karaoke! Only in Korea!

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On the bus, we all were regretting not bringing more dry clothes, but we survived the trip back to Seoul. I got back and had to close up the guesthouse while my boss is away for a few days, and then my life was saved because just as I was complaining that I hadn’t had enough to eat and my only option was another granola bar and then sleep, some Korean guests popped their heads into the kitchen and asked if we wanted to share a pork leg with them! Ola says the trick is to just always think outloud and someone might grant your wish haha. We chatted and ate a late midnight meal with a bit of soju and it was the perfect end to the night! And I got to use about 5 phrases in the day and night in Korean haha. Success!

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