Jirisan National Park is both in Gyeongsangnam Province and Jeollanam Province, but since I only went through the section inside Gyeongsangnam Province, I categorize it under ‘Gyeongsangnam’ in this blog.
Jirisan National Park has the greatest variety of multi-day hikes within a single national Park in all of South Korea. It also has the highest mountains in mainland South Korea.
The length of the Jirisan Ridge can be traversed in three days two nights, or two days and one night if you are in great physical shape and push yourself. I didn’t want to push myself too hard, and due to travel logistics I didn’t have three days, so I picked an itinerary which would take me halfway through the ridge (i.e. the part of the Jirisan ridge in Gyeongsangnam Province).
I took a bus from Busan station to Daewonsa – but the schedule I had was out of date, so I ended up departing Busan later than planned, and arriving at Daewonsa late, which meant I couldn’t start the hike yet and had to sleep in a minbak in Yupyeong Village, which is … two kilometers up the road from Daewonsa Temple? I don’t remember.
The minbak offered a room with an ondol (i.e. an eletric heating mat on hard floor with blankets) for 30,000 won a night. Around the village was a stream with nice rocks, as shown below.
Early next morning I started hiking. Since this is not the fastest route up to the famous peaks, it’s not particularly popular, which suited me just fine.
I knew the route would be steep, but I underestimated just how long it would take me to hike up. It’s a really good thing I had stayed in the village overnight.
Down at the lowest elevations there were still plenty of trees in brilliant autumn colors, but it didn’t take me long to get to an altitude where the trees were already bare of leaves.
I reached Chibanmok Shelter, where I was able to get some drinking water. There were Korean hikers relaxing there. This blogger stayed at Chinbanmok overnight.
Then I got high enough to see some views, even if visibility was not great.
I was also getting tired of all of the uphill climbing.
FINALLY, I got to the top of Jungbong, which at 1,875 meters is the second highest mountain in mainland South Korea (3rd highest in all of South Korea).
And from the top of Jungbong, I saw Cheonhwangbong, which at 1,915 meters is *the* highest mountain peak in mainland South Korea (shown in the above picture). It also lay between me and the place where I was going to sleep that night. And I had to go down into that steep saddle before hiking another steep trail up. Did I manage? Be sure to read the next post!