Wolchulsan hiking, Saturday 17th November 2012

This time of year is about as good as it gets in Korea for hiking and so Jen and I decided to head south for the weekend and go for a walk in Wolchulsan National Park. We caught the KTX from Yongsan after work on the Friday and three and a quarter hours later we were in Mokpo.

We stayed in a hotel across the road from the Peace Plaza. That’s the place where they have the dancing water fountains. I can’t remember the name of our hotel but it’s next door to the better-known Shangria Hotel. The rooms are good and at 80,000 won per night it’s about two-thirds of the price of its more famous neighbour.

It’s the skinny building in the middle.

From what I can work out there are three entrances to Wolchulsan National Park; Dogapsa temple, Cheonhwang Parking Lot and Gyeongpodae. You can get there by catching a bus from Mokpo to Yeongam and then another bus from Yeongam to Cheonhwang Parking Lot. This seemed a bit of an arse on to me and so we just took a taxi from Mokpo to Dogapsa temple. I’d estimate it at being about fifty kilometres and it took half an hour and cost 35,000 won.

Dogapsa temple isn’t anything special and just looks like most of the other temples over here. I suspect that they were all built by the same bloke. It did have air-conditioning though, which I’m sure the monks will have been very grateful for in the summer.

Dogapsa temple.

The hike that we were intending to do would take us from Dogapsa temple up to the 809m Cheonhwangbong peak and then down to the Cheonhwang parking lot. The National Parks website lists the route as 9.7km and estimates that it should take around six hours. We only had around seven hours of daylight and so couldn’t really afford to hang about.

The trail starts off pretty steeply with an hour or so of ascent until you reach the Pampas Grass Field. Apparently it is silver coloured at certain times of the year but not in November when it looks as if it has died off.

Part of the Pampas Grass Field.

We had maybe fifty yards or so of relative flatness at the Pampas Grass Field and then it was back to the trudging upwards towards the first peak of the day, Gujeongbong. We hadn’t seen too many hikers so far that morning but Gujeongbong was packed with people milling around, having their lunch and just generally making a racket. There’s an easier route up that starts at the Gyeongpodae entrance and I suspect most of them will have made their way up from there.

Gujeongbong.

We didn’t hang about for long at Gujeongbong, partly due to the crowds but mainly because we still had a fair distance to go. The ridge walk to Cheonhwangbong wasn’t the relentless grind upwards that the trail to the first peak had been but there were some extremely steep sections where it was necessary to haul yourself up or lower yourself down using the ropes or rails provided.

Looking back towards Gujeongbong.

Around four hours after we’d set off we reached 809m Cheonhwangbong peak. This one wasn’t nearly so busy as Gujeongbong and it had great views in all directions. We could see the Cheonhwangbong parking lot in the distance and so were reasonably confident that we’d be able to get there before it got dark.

Cheonhwangbong.

On the way down to the car park we had a choice of routes, one going via a suspension bridge, the other by a waterfall. When you are from Teesside you tend not to be easily impressed by bridges and so we chose the waterfall route. I’m glad we did as getting to the suspension bridge appeared to involve an almost vertical climb of around a hundred metres. Once I’m on the way down I like to keep it that way.

It’s no Transporter.

The Baram waterfall wasn’t anything too spectacular but at least it didn’t involve going back up again. There were quite a few people making the walk up from the car park to see it, some on a family day out with a sullen teenager or two in tow, others a couple on a date with the girl wearing heels more suitable for, well I’m not sure what actually. What are high heels suitable for?

And this was no High Force.

Bang on target we reached the Cheonhwang parking lot six hours after setting off. There were far more transport options there than there had been at Dogapsa and we were able to flag down a taxi almost straightaway. Half an hour and 40,000 won later we were back in Mokpo. We had planned to hike the following day too but quickly thought better of it. With my thighs and calves still sore four days later I feel that we probably made the right decision.

3 Responses to “Wolchulsan hiking, Saturday 17th November 2012”

  1. Khimz Says:

    heck yeah!! okay do you remember when i takeld infront of the church?..probably not but i said that nature is the place where i am reminded of God most! i mean he sort of speaks to me through nature. if im down and having a bad time he’s send a baeutiful scene for me and i get refocused on God. or he’ll cheer me up. or with all the world disaters he gives me a reality check and makes me feel thankful. i really do love nature and i wish i could see god working in everything but it’s hard sometimes.Michelle

  2. James Says:

    Hey mate,

    Really enjoy this read. Love your blatant description and pictures. Hike on bro.

  3. onthetrailofthelionking Says:

    Thanks very much James.

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