For several years now, I’ve wanted to get out into the mountains to see the fall foliage. My husband thought Korea’s mountains weren’t big enough to be worth the effort, so we only went hiking a couple of times– when his friends invited us. Once I was free to do what I wanted with my weekends, I was spending my October weekends with the KOTESOL conference, so I haven’t been able to make it. Last year, Craig and I hike the Bukhansan Dullegil at the tail end of the foliage, but most of the leaves had started falling our first weekend.
This year, the conference was earlier than usual. So, Craig and I went to Songnisan National Park to see the leaves and hike up to Cheonghwabong. On the way there, we stopped in Cheongju to see their third division soccer team take on Cheonan’s team. Despite both teams being at the bottom of the league, it was not a contest so much as total annihilation. You can read about it on Craig’s blog, if you’re interested. Once he gets through his backlog of posts, that is. I believe the current count is four that he has in mind that he has not put to
After the game Saturday evening, we caught the bus to Songnisan. We expected there to be some people there, but we were blown away by numbers. There were cars parked on the curb all the way out of town. It turns out that they have a music festival when it’s time for the leaves to change.
No problem, as long as there is an inn with a room. Preferably one with a bed, and a private bath. We chose a likely looking place and the desk clerk started off with, “There’s an event on, so all of the rooms are very expensive. Why don’t you check around and come back if there is nothing cheaper. Everyone has raised their rates.”
Um… thanks for your honesty??? It turned out the special event price was 100k, which did seem a bit much for a sleepy little town, but we were there, so we took it. We had planned to get a room for two nights, so we could leave our bags there while we went hiking. We decided that that would be a bit excessive, though.
So, just before 8:00 the next morning, we headed out with all of our gear. We got stopped along the way by a guy that wanted us to sign up and get free water and join their walking event. We didn’t fancy walking with 1,000 of our newest friends, so we declined. When we got to the gates of the National Park, we realized they weren’t walking together, they just got the 4,000 won entrance fee waived. Oh, well, live and learn.
The hike started out nicely with about 45 minutes to an hour on the flat from the park entrance to the foot of the mountain. Then it got progressively steeper. There were several sets of stairs and several rails, but there should have been ropes in a couple of places. Fortunately, Craig was there to give me a hand. Too bad nobody was there to give him a hand.