I woke up early at Seseok Shelter, and was on my way shortly before dawn. The sky was full of stars (Jirisan National Park lacks the light pollution found in South Korea’s urban centers).
I quickly passed the turnoff for the trail going to Georim – if you want to see photos of that trail, particularly during spring when the flowers are in bloom, you should check out Klimbing Korean Mountains.
Just as sunlight was appearing, I stumbled on what looks like a stone shamanic shrine to me. Even though the hike had just begun, I figured I should sit down there and eat my breakfast (plus my headlight battery was dying, and I didn’t want to change it when it was so close to sunrise).
And then I got to watch the sun slowly flood the valleys and the ridges with light.
Well, with the sun risen, it was time to GET MOVING!!!!
Now, when I had seen the maps and the hiking times, I thought the national park must have been exaggerating it. So many hours, for a *downhill* hike over a long (about 14 kilometers), but not super-long, distance? C’mon!
Well … the trail from Seseok to Samshinbong is not flat.
It is a very bumpy ridge, with lots of ups and downs. You do overall lose a few hundred meters of altitude if you go from Seseok to Samshinbong, but you really earn those declines in altitude.
Furthermore, since this trail is a) long and b) does not connect with a really popular peak such as Cheongwangbong and c) has lots of ups and downs, there’s few people, and it’s not as developed as, say, the main ridge trail from Cheonwangbong to Seseok.
In this post, I am, of course, putting in the prettiest pictures. And sometimes I would rest from this “downhill” hike and let myself take in the beauty of all of those mountains, the tree branches, the sunlight, and the sky.
But for most of the hike, I was looking at trees, bamboo, and whatever obstacles the trail was throwing at me – in other words, most of what I saw looks like the above photo.
Once I reached Samsinbong, I hoped that the trail would stop going up and down so much.
NOPE! The section from Samsinbong to the turnoff for Ssangyesa was even worse – I didn’t lose any altitude at all, and I had to keep on going up and up over rough terrain, sometimes practically having to climb up steep rock faces with ropes. And the scenery wasn’t even as nice as the scenery between Seseok and Samsinbong (the first part of this day).
In fact, none of the pictures in this post are from the section after Samsinbong – I didn’t feel like taking photos, I wanted to move as quickly as possible so a) I would finally going downhill instead of uphill and b) I was beginning to worry that I might not be able to finish this before sundown.
I encountered a bunch of hikers at Samsinbong. I suspect that they went to Samsinbong as a day hike. They may have even come from Cheonghakdong village instead of Ssangyesa.
Once I had put about five kilometers between myself and Seseok shelter, I was able to get a good view of the main Jirisan ridge, which I had hiked the previous day.
The photo below shows Chotdaebong, which is very close to Seseok shelter.
And the photo below shows Cheonwangbong, the highest peak in mainland South Korea (with Jeseokbong just to the left of it).