Before I moved to Korea, I looked online at the most beautiful places to visit here. One of those places was Seoraksan (specifically in the fall). So when I saw a trip to hike Seoraksan during this time, I knew I had to sign up.
To be honest, the day before the trip, I was kinda bummed that I had signed up. I think the wear and tear of traveling is starting to exhaust me. At least, going on overnight bus trips is exhausting. I’m one of those people that likes to get 8 hours of sleep a night, and if I don’t, I definitely feel it.
The group I went with this time is called WINK, and they decided to leave Seoul around 11:30 pm. You can imagine how tired I was going to feel by the end of the hike.
I got about an hour or two of sleep on the bus before arriving at Seoraksan at 3 in the morning. I was surprised to see that there were already quite a bit of people beginning their hikes! Our group split up a bit and on the way up, we couldn’t see a thing. We had no idea where we were walking or what was beside us. It was oddly peaceful though. And at one point, the group I was with almost got lost. Thankfully, I saw a path to my left and we started to go the right way again. For a minute there though, we might’ve turned into one of those scary hiker stories you hear about on the news. Hiking at night is a totally different experience. It’s beautiful in a weird way.
The light began to creep over the mountains when we reached our destination. Quite a few of us just sat on this porch thing overlooking the valley. After hiking for about 3 hours in the dark, I was extremely tired at this point. But oh, the view was breathtaking!
I had already decided that I wasn’t going to hike to the peak or across dinosaur ridge, though I knew it would also be beautiful. The view we saw was good enough for me.
We sat there for an hour or two, just talking and eating and taking selfies, before splitting up again. I decided to hike down with those who wanted to take their time getting to the bottom of the valley. We really did take our time though, and made a 3 hour hike into a 6 hour walk. It was exactly what I wanted.
The entire time, a girl I met on the hike and I kept marvelling at the sights. The views kept getting better and better! It was also frustrating because everytime we’d take a picture, we’d realize how not amazing it looked in pictures. Some of the pictures might be beautiful, but they are nothing compared to the real thing. Imagine standing amongst these large boulders and rocks, near waterfalls and colorful trees. I’ve never seen such a sight.
The hiking trail got super crowded as we made our way back down. It was actually frustrating because some of the more intense Korean hikers kept brushing past us in a hurry and were obviously annoyed at our slow pace. I don’t blame them, but I didn’t let it get me down too much. I mean . . . how can you be unhappy when you’re surrounded by beauty?
We also came across two French girls who made for lovely conversation.
And of course, we had to stop and take pictures at every turn. How could you not? My favorite part was eating oreos and beef jerky next to waterfalls.
After around 5 hours of marvelling at the beauty of Seoraksan, we were ready to finish the hike. Unfortunately, every time we thought we were near the bottom, there were just more rocks to climb over. We refueled at a restaurant on the way down before continuing our trek.
There were also some climbers near the restaurant! One day, I’d like to be fit enough to go climbing here.
Finally, we reached the bottom and were happy to be on leveled ground. I was also surprised to see there was a temple and tons of shops at the bottom! It had been so dark on our way up, that we missed all of the touristy spots! We must have whisked right by it all in the dark.
We left the park around 4:30 pm and of course ran into crazy traffic. Everyone was passed out on the bus the entire time, but I only nodded off a few times. There was one point where I just sat looking out the window and saw even more beautiful sights. Though I didn’t get any pictures of these places, it was something I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Korea is way pretty.
By the time we arrived in Seoul, I was a little stressed because I didn’t want to miss my bus and knew I was cutting it close. Praise the good Lord that I not only made the bus, but I also had some time to eat a little bit of street food!
I think this hike might be my last outdoorsy activity for a couple weeks. I really want to spend more time visiting museums and watching ballets and musicals. Of course, never say ever!