Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Woke up at 3 AM and called a cab to come pick us up. Grabbed our bags and jumped in, the cabbie was super nice and drove around the base of the mountains to find our campground as he had no idea where he was. After the 45 minute drive (no stopping at red lights because there was no traffic that early!) we got dropped off in the pitch black night underneath beautiful Japanese Maple Trees and Tall Pines in the small parking lot of a campground. We turned our headlamps to low and found two empty spots for us to pitch our tents and passed out immediately. At about 6 AM we were both awake and eating breakfast. The weather was a perfect 24 degrees and not a cloud in the sky!
All the campgrounds looked like this, full of raised platforms to set up on.
Around 9, we put together our packs and headed to the trail. It was steep, rocky, and a bit sketchy at times, but the views were well worth it. From underneath the canopy of leaves, sun filtered through in crisp rays featured with slowly moved trail dust. The mountainside was a jagged slope of crystal speckled granite, covered loosely in mossy growth fed by spraying mists from the mountain springs that flowed in rushed and constricted streams down the mountain through rock fall valleys.
Almost to the peak, we joined with a couple of Korean college students on break. Both spoke English rather well and we continued to the top with them acting as our Korean tour guides of the mountain. They were very kind in explaining Chuseok tradition to us as well as being very interested in soccer. At the top we rested and viewed a full 360 degree view of the surrounding province. Many local people were at the top exchanging rice cakes, peaches, and other foods. Chris and I joined in by giving beef jerky and rice krispy treats.
The rest of the day was spent hiking towards Dogapsa temple. It was tough and steep, with little shade or water along the spine-ridge of the mountain range, but we finally descended into a beautifully shaded stream-valley which headed straight down to the temple at the base.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Started the day early off with a walk around the park to stretch our sore legs. After this we packed our bags again to take up to the waterfall in order to soak our feet in the cool spring-water pools. The falls were in great show, cascading the 30 feet down the rock face in strong streams and jets. We both stuck our heads under the falls and soaked our feet for a while, enjoying the gentle sun poking through the tree tops.
Yes, it looks weak, but the picture doesn't hardly do it justice.
We felt so refreshed after this, that we decided to put our boots back on and hike to the sky bridge. It was one of the steepest trails I have ever been on, but it ended with amazing views of the valley.
That night we were practically force fed by a Korean family as they continually came to our campsite and gave us food (which is rude not to eat in Korea). We went to sleep early to get star-trail pictures over the mountain range. Unfortunately, the moon was so full and bright that it faded all the stars out of the pictures and everything looked almost like day through Chris's camera.
Friday, September 20, 2013
On the early bus home and asleep for a nap in my own bed by 3 PM!