Monday, March 13, 2006

Georgeous Gyeryongsan National Park

Since my good friend Helen is doing some writing for the Ulsan Pear
and has been asked to do a piece on hiking, I spent the past weekend with her in one of Korea's 27 National Parks.
Gyeryongsan National Park is located about 40 minutes outside of Daejeon and is home to one of Korea's most famous mountains, Gyeryongsan.
Gye: means 'rooster' and ryong: means ’dragon’ because of it's peaks that are lined up like a dragon wearing the crown of a rooster (or so the park literature says).
My friend Helen and I met in Daejeon on Saturday afternoon. Since it was raining, we tried to wait out the rain in a small cafe. Our original intention was to only hike one of the two days, but as the rain let up early afternoon, we decided to begin our hike Saturday instead.
The trail we took led us between two temples, beginning at Donghaksa and ending at Gapsa.
Although we had read that the 4.6km trail takes about 4 hours comfortably, we soon realized that 'comfort' is somewhat of an exaggeration and we would have to push it a little harder to make Gapsa before sunset.
Although our first day was quite overcast and foggy, we managed to have a great hike and were enthusiastic about continuing the next day.
When we reached Gapsa temple, we found a small hotel (yeogwan) in the tourist village just outside of the temple, had some galbi and a few beers and fell to sleep with the satisfaction that one gets from a good day's hike and lungs full of fresh air.
On Sunday, our intention was to get up at the crack of dawn and do as much hiking as possible; however, our sore muscles had other intentions.
After hitting the preverbal 'snooze' button a few times, we managed to crawl (and am speaking literally) out of bed and got ready to begin another day's hike.
The trail we chose to return to Donghaksa was a little bit longer then the first day (5.6km), but guaranteed to provide breathtaking scenery and since the day was a bit clearer, we knew we would have some chance for some better photos.
Before hiking, we stopped in at Gapsa temple to get a glimpse of temple life and perhaps motivate our minds and spirits for the next few hours.
Gapsa temple is very beautiful (as most temples are) and the sounds of monks chanting as we walked through the temple grounds was more then enough to take my mind off my aching muscles.
We began our hike around 11am towards Donghaksa, and managed to arrive there just after 3pm. It was a fantastic, but bone-chillingly cold hike. Although the sun was out, a cold wind had ripped across Korea the night before and temperatures dropped as we ascended further up the mountain. Neither, Helen or I were prepared for just how cold it got...but the breathtaking views kept us going.
You will see from my pictures just how incredible it was...although I was even more delighted when we got to the bottom and finished our day with a soak in a local hot spring (as much as I like hiking, my sore legs liked the hot tubs even more).
It was a great weekend and we are making plans to do another hike on the long weekend in May.
Enjoy the photos below!!

Helen checking out the information board

Funny sign (No howling dogs)

It was a bit foggy our first day of the hike

Nammaetap Pagoda Posted by Picasa


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home