Although it was a Saturday we woke up with the sun, pulled on our shoes, and walked towards the GS convenient store to meet our friends. Lucky for us one friend owns a car that fit all seven of us. I was feeling ambitious, my legs antsy, ready for some activity. After two hours in the car and a breakfast of bibimbap, we made it to Jirisan National Park.
The day’s plan was hiking Cheonwangbong Peak. This is the highest peak in Jirisan National Park and the second highest in South Korea. I read that, “it was named ‘Jiri’ because it was believed to be a place that turns the innocent into the wise.”
Anytime I can get away from the city and onto a trail with some nature I automatically feel better.
Our two Korean friends were sure to warn us this was a steep hike. I think they were even worried we would struggle on the way.
I don’t want to compare but I’m going to compare … The difference between the elevation of mountains here and the mountains in Idaho are pretty vast. Nonetheless we prepared ourselves for a full day of hiking.
I guess it was pretty steep. This picture portrays the majority of the hike pretty well.
I think this is one of the prettiest hikes I’ve done in Korea. June consisted of several rainy days making it super green. It was the perfect hiking day, the temperature was cool with a slight breeze so I never felt too hot, the clouds drifted by casting shadows on the rock, and there was a waterfall in the distance.
The thing about hiking in Korea is there are usually stairs. I still don’t understand how stairs are built into the side of the mountain but it makes hiking on rock sides possible. Take a close look at this next picture. Notice the stairs in the distance? The last part of the hike consisted of several stairs. Talk about a leg burn! Stair master!
The second we reached the summit our breath was taken away from a strong gust of wind. It nearly knocked all of us off our feet. I instantly grabbed a rocked and planted my feet. We had a 360 view of the surrounding area. Hikers nuzzled onto the rocks settling for snacks and after a few pictures we joined them.
I found the way down to be much more difficult than hiking up! My knees felt super weak and my muscles were shaking with every step. The short rest breaks only caused my legs to feel more stiff and sore. When I reached the top I was still feeling rather energized but on the way down I really lost my fire. I was ready for a meal and a nap!
Our legs were sore for about two days after the hike. Walking up and down the stairs at work definitely caused some wincing and a cry/laugh of I’m in so much pain right now, like when you hit your funny bone.
I am so grateful to our friends for driving us and taking us on this hike! It really wouldn’t have been possible without them.
Our time here is dwindling. The closer it comes to leaving the more I appreciate the experiences I’ve had and am having here. Sometimes it takes a change to truly acknowledge and value your surroundings.