On Seoraksan (설악산). Fall is visually dramatic in Korea, the leaves change color, the sky is mostly clear and blue and the air is crisp. It is absolutely fantastic. One popular things for people to do when this season comes around is to head the to mountains to see the leaves change color and the most famous place for this is Seorak mountain. Seorak mountain is in Gangwong-do province in the east. There was a 1,708 meter elevation gain, but as far as how many kilometers I can’t tell it was a good thirteen hours with breaks.
I opted to do have this adventure with a hiking group that I had travelled with to see the cherry blossoms in spring. We loaded at bus at 11:00pm and drove over night to the mountain. I should mention that when I say “over night” I mean about three hours once everyone was on the bus and not counting traffic. We put on our headlamps and got in line at 3:30am to hike. The line was very, very long.
I’ve never had to stand in line while hiking. It was one step at a time in the dark for a while. The sun started rising right as I reached a lookout spot! There were a few calls of joy as the sun started to come up.
When I reached the Daechongbong Peak I was wrecked. After no sleep and no food I was very tired, but in a great mood. The thing to do at the top is sit down with your friends and let the eating, drinking and resting commence. My hiking partner and I found a spot on a rock and stopped to split rations of almonds, oranges, kimbap and dried bananas. This was hardly weather appropriate food and our jolly neighbors started feeding us warm spicy squid and ramyeon noodles. They handed my hiking partner a generous cup of Korean brandy wine and handed me a beer.
The weather was not great, so there were no views at the top. I am told that usually you are able to see the East Sea. When our bellies were satisfied and it was too cold to keep sitting there we went on our way to descend into the valley.
Rather quickly we reached a point at which it was clear enough to see the gorgeous mountains straight ahead.
After we reached the valley, there was a waterfall whose water we followed for the rest of the hike.
This last part of the hike was breathtaking. Although there were still many other people there wasn’t a line anymore. The surroundings were beautiful and the hardest park of the hike was finished. The rocky trails had much milder inclines and declines.
I reached the parking lot right as rain began to come down.