Seoraksan Trip Report
Written by Joshua Weissman
We left Seoul on an uncertain Saturday morning. After the
previous delay of our Seoraksan trip, we were excited to
attack the mountain's trails in favorable conditions. The
worry in the air was obvious as we eventually approached
the mountain in a downpour. After nervously munching on u-
dong and other foods at the base of the mountain, we
watched the skies empty. Adventure's hikers covered up in
a number of different-colored rain shells and set out for
the climb upwards.
While focused on the quick elevation gain, many of us were
slow to notice that the rain had disappeared among the
trees and the sun struggled to introduce us to the
mountain. We were rewarded once we broke above the tree-
line with our first view across the mountain's peaks.
After the photo opportunity, we set back to the trail
knowing we would need a decent pace to beat nightfall to
our shelter. The rest of the day was crisp and cool, and
we looked over the peaks into a bright white cloud. We
could see the potential a clear Sunday would bring.
As we scrambled into the shelter right around dusk on
Saturday, we settled into our very cozy rooms. We were
greeted warmly by Koreans giving us soju and a warm stove
to cook our rice and noodles. After some drinks and hot
food to unwind we crashed early to rest our bones and
The next morning we awoke hearing the pleasant words, "you
can see the stars." We immediately knew that this meant a
promising Sunday, and crammed our feet back into our
hiking boots. We stumbled back up the trail as the light
slowly unfolded the path in front of us. We realized the
spectacular sights we had missed the day before. We saw
the jagged peaks stretching skywards on our right and the
East Sea calmly rolling on our left. After an hour, we
enthusiastically reached South Korea's third highest peak,
Daecheonbong. Surrounded by a mass of photo takers, we
watched the sun spread its inspiring oranges and yellows
above the sea as the wind smacked against our jackets. Any
of the daily grind that was bothering us before was gone
in this moment.
We went back to the shelter, stuffed in some food, and
prepared for our descent. While pushing our knees to their
limits, we looked ahead at the unique stone peaks in the
distance. We could see the formation to the north
resembling a dinosaur. Eventually, we reached the
beautiful Oreong waterfall. Later, we enjoyed the warm
embrace of the Cheonbuldong valley and the open trail and
the towering rocky walls around us. Near the end of a
stunning day, we soaked our sore feat in the stream below
the flat rocks of Biseondae.
Once the group got back to the trail, we passed the giant
Buddha statue and had our final photo opportunity in front
of the bear statue at the park entry. We loaded the bus
and enjoyed an all-you-can-eat bibimbap lunch. We then
snoozed and watched CNN as the bus crawled back to Seoul.
Our bodies ached but we were proud of the experience the
mountain had given us.