Hiking at Geumosan, Sat 3rd September 2011.

The World Athletics Championships have been going on in Daegu for the past week and Jen and I had tickets for the final two days. There’s a handy Provincial Park with some decent hiking just outside of Daegu at Palgongsan, but we had already been there a few months back. There’s another Provincial Park, Geumosan, about half an hour away on the train though and as the athletics took place in the evenings we decided that we might as well stay near to Geumosan and do some hiking there during the day.

We took the KTX from Seoul to Daejeon on the Friday night and then switched to a Saemaul train for the remainder of the journey to Gumi. Saemaul is the first step down from the high-speed KTX. They are a bit slower but still quite posh with velvet seats and plenty of room. I was quite impressed, although I had been drinking and stuff often seems better then.

I have a suspicion that a reasonable proportion of the readers of this blog who visit here intentionally rather than those who stumble across it after a search for ‘Penis fish’, ‘Gorilla autopsy’, ‘The Olsen Twins’ or the occasional combination of all three, may very well be the sort of people who have an interest in things like trains. With that in mind, I took a photo of the inside of the carriage.

One for the rolling stock enthusiasts.

We got to Gumi at about half past ten and checked into the Metro Motel which was pretty much the first place that we found. It was either the poshest place in Gumi or the most delusional as it had Won to Yen exchange rates displayed in its foyer to cater for Japanese tourists. I couldn’t help but wonder why on Earth someone would travel from Japan to holiday in Gumi. The most noteworthy thing I could find out about the town was that a fair bit of public money had been ploughed into the local industry at around the same time that a local boy became President.

For the benefit of any Japanese tourists, that's it. Behind the shops.

Mind you, I was back in Stockton recently and there were loads of people on holiday there which baffled me. Not many Japanese I suspect though. Not unless they were international Pound Shop aficionados.

Next morning we took a five minute taxi ride to Geumosan and walked along a trail which followed the road for a while. The path slowly gained height until we reached a sign that pointed out that the 976m summit was 3.3km away and from then on it became much steeper. It was a steady slog up stone steps for over a kilometre until we reached a temple with an odd looking Buddha.

Nice looking temple though.

Another hundred or so yards up some more steps and we reached a waterfall. It would have been a lot more spectacular in the rainy season, but at twenty seven metres high it was still worth pausing for a closer look.

It was worth pausing for a rest as well.

At this point there were still over two kilometres to go to the top and we resumed with a few flights of stairs. Whilst this was easier than the less uniform stone steps, it did, at times,  just feel like a trip to the gym rather than a walk in the hills. Not that I’m overly familiar with gyms. The steps soon gave way again to a more natural trail, but it was still a relentless grind uphill. We had one stretch of flat walking that lasted about twenty yards and that was it.

The views were magnificent though. Normally the trees obscure just about everything until you reach the top of the hill. Sometimes they still block your view even then. We got a good look outwards towards and beyond Gumi from a couple of points two-thirds of the way up.

Gumi - It looks better from a distance.

With less than a kilometre to go we finally got a flattish stretch of a couple of hundred metres. It was soon back to the slog though for the final section where we were rewarded with a summit littered with mobile phone masts, tin huts and assorted military equipment. The views were crap too.

Time for another sit down.

A slight detour down a different route took us to a temple where the scenery was a lot better and gave us the opportunity to use the monk’s toilets. Oddly, there weren’t any wash basins which leads me to conclude that monks probably don’t wash their hands afterwards. That won’t get them into heaven even if they do get out of bed early to say their prayers. We went back down via the route that we had come up and it wasn’t much easier on the legs descending. Five and a half hours and eight kilometres after setting off we were at the bottom looking for a taxi to take us back into Gumi. My calves still ached four days later.

2 Responses to “Hiking at Geumosan, Sat 3rd September 2011.”

  1. Paul Says:

    I missed the athletics and only read your post for an update. You’ll never make a sports reporter.

    Or a train spotter…no engine shown

    or a mountaineer – they are steep and they do go upwards

    other than that top marks for getting The Olsen twins and penis fish into the same sentence .

  2. onthetrailofthelionking Says:

    The athletics post is next. I’ll concede that as not many sports reporters would be allowed a couple of weeks to get around to writing it, it’s unlikely that I’ll ever end up working for the Sports Gazette.

    Carriages are a much more specialised form of rail enthusiasm, only for the hardcore spotters.

    You are right about the mountaineering, I’m beginning to think I’m more of a valleys person. Although I did decline the option of the cable car.

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