Yongmunsan Hiking, Saturday 14th January 2012

Yongmunsan is one of those mountains that is just outside of Seoul and ideal for a day’s hiking. Ideal that is if you can get out of bed on a morning. I’d planned to do this hike the previous Saturday but hadn’t adjusted properly to the time difference after my trip to the UK. Whilst I’d been waking up at around three every morning earlier in the week, luck would have it that I slept in until half past nine on the Saturday, which was a bit too late.

My second attempt was a little better. I’d been to Oman and back during the week, returning to Seoul the day before and had hoped that with the time difference there being only five hours rather than nine I’d wake up sometime around seven o’clock. Hoping isn’t really as good as an alarm clock though and after not waking until eightish, it was after nine before I left the apartment.

Yongmun is at the very end of the Jungang line and it took about two and a quarter hours from Yeoksam. I had a seat all the way and a book to read so didn’t mind the journey, particularly as the latter stages are above ground with views of some of the other mountains that I’d like to hike in the future. It’s only a 1,900 won fare as well which is about a quid.

I could have got all the way to Yongmunsan Resort for that 1,900 won fare if I’d been prepared to wait for the connecting bus that runs every half hour from the station, but as it was getting on towards lunchtime I took a 10,000 won taxi instead.

Yongmunsan Resort is likely to be quite a busy place in summer. There’s an amusement park, a camping ground, plenty of restaurants and a few small hotels. In January though, there wasn’t a great deal going on.

That's the big hill in the background.

I followed the road that leads to Yongmunsa Temple. It’s another one of those places that is apparently centuries old, but there is still construction work going on. It’s ages since the Japanese invaded and knocked it all down so maybe the monks are getting an extension to their Snooker Room. There is a great big Ginko tree outside the temple that is supposed to be over a thousand years old. It probably looks a bit more impressive when it has leaves on though.

That's still the big hill in the background.

I followed a path that went between the tree and the temple. A hundred metres or so further on I had a choice of following a path towards Sangwonsa or going directly to the main Yongmunsan peak. I headed straight on and the trail went upwards quite sharply, following the frozen stream. There weren’t many people hiking, or at least there weren’t too many on this particular route, although I suspect that most people would have started walking a little earlier than I did.

As I got higher there was more snow on the ground. It didn’t look too recent though.

Looking back in the direction that I'd just come from.

Progress was slow as there were some fairly slippery parts of the trail. The ice wasn’t thick enough to put chains or spikes on, so it was just a case of being careful. There were some quite steep sections as well where the ropes provided were a big help. After two and a half hours I’d only covered three of the four kilometres to the top and realised that I might not make it down again before dark if I tried to do the last kilometre. Yongmunsan is one of those mountains where you can’t get all the way to the 1,157m summit anyway as it’s fenced off to protect a load of satellite equipment, so not getting to the highest point possible wasn’t such a big deal.

I backtracked  to one of the lesser peaks and perched on a big rock to eat my cheese and crackers. I had a great view of the valley that I’d started from, some other hills in the distance and a bloke doing a bit of paragliding.

The photo doesn't really do it justice.

Further along the trail I took a different route downwards which eventually joined up with the route to Sangwonsa. It meandered back and forwards and was a lot less steep than the route I’d followed on the way up. It made the descent much easier than I’d anticipated and by the time I got back to Yongmunsan Resort I probably still had about an hour and a half to spare before it got dark.

I went up the blue route and came back down the yellow. I think.

I joined the queue of hikers waiting for the bus to the station and then got the subway back to Seoul. I think I’ll have another go at Yongmunsan as there is apparently a decent waterfall fifteen minutes or so beyond the main peak. I’ll just set off a little earlier next time.

2 Responses to “Yongmunsan Hiking, Saturday 14th January 2012”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    some different than it was in1968 as a radar site

  2. onthetrailofthelionking Says:

    I expect it would be. Do you remember if the temple and ginko tree looked much different back then?

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