Bukhansan Dulegil Complete!

We managed to turn one good day of walking into two, so in the end, it took us six walking days over about 15 months, but we finally walked the entire 66km– the original 44 and the 22 which were not yet open when we completed the first 44km.

This is hands down the newest, sparkly-cleanest temple I've ever seen. I'm pretty sure there were monks putting away the ladders just out of sight.

We did the fifth day in January, but I somehow forgot to write about it. I imagine that is because I was behind, what with my trip home, followed by a trip to Taipei, followed by a trip to England and Spain. Oh, and I did some teaching in there somewhere. The fifth and sixth days were a combined 12-13km, so I think I can cover it all here without creating and over-long post.

We had finished our walk early on the fourth day, partially because we somehow got off the trail and didn’t realize it until we saw a sign pointing 1km to the Dulegil. At that point, we had walked enough to be put off by walking 2km roundtrip off of the trail. So, we walked over to a stadium that we had seen from above and Craig thought must be where a soccer game he wanted to see was about to begin. Long story short, it wasn’t. That stadium was a one hour taxi ride away and we arrived at the game at half time. You can read all about it here, if you’re so inclined.

So, on the fifth day, we wanted to go back to the 1km sign and figure out where we went wrong. It seemed like a close walk from Uijeongbu Sta., so we decided to walk. It was indeed close. Unfortunately, neither Craig nor I have a particularly good sense of direction and we hadn’t yet clued in that our iPhones could have shown us the way. Live and learn. We got in a taxi, who immediately made a U-turn and took us back the way we had come before we gave up and got us there for less than 3,000 won. With our backbacks and hiking gear on, he must have thought we were the laziest hikers ever to want a 3-minute ride to the starting point.

We ate at Kim Ga Ne, because we just aren't cool enough to picnic at a grave site.

He let us off in front of some restaurants, so we had a sumptuous feast of mandu and tuna kimbap before getting underway. We had no trouble finding the path and decided there must have been a truck parked blocking the way so we couldn’t see it before. 🙂 (We do lie best to ourselves, don’t we?) The walk was fairly uneventful. There were no steep bits which involved a brief scramble over rocks or using ropes– two things which I don’t think “family” hikes should include, but that’s just me. We had gotten a later start than planned, and decided we would be pushing it trying to finish the entire remaining area before dusk.

Winter fun on the Dulegil. The dad was teaching his kids how to slide across the ice on a piece of cardboard.

With that in mind, we looked for a good stopping point (ie. near a subway station) about halfway. Mangwolsa was the ticket. We left the trail, headed down the hill and were on our way home after a gentle afternoon hike.

A little urban farm was the perfect landmark to help us find the trail at Mangwolsa Station.

This past weekend, we knew we didn’t have far to go, so we started off from Mangwolsa Station at 11:00AM. We had no trouble finding the trail again, mainly because we just had to follow the stream of hikers in front of us. Apparently, the hiking season has officially begun. Fortunately, all of them were going the way we had come from, so we were soon on our own, walking along the side of Camp Jackson. Ever now and then, I miss being in the Army. Hearing a large number of soldiers training in the distance at midday on a Sunday is a good remedy for that particular nostalgia.

This is me, totally not on Camp Jackson property, but I could see how you might think otherwise. I was within earshot of a company training on Sunday, though. Good times!

All right, crows, don't make me go medieval on your a$$es! I appreciate the touches of realism in the form of empty makkeolli bottles at his feet. Drunk on the job, just like the knights of yore.

This part of the trail was surprisingly flat. There were very few hills at all. This is in fairly sharp contrast to the fourth day, which ended with a staircase of 1,000 stairs, and some of the other parts which saw Craig just lifting me up or down a particulary high rock. In other words, this was my kind of hiking. We did go up an observatory and were rewarded with some good views of the city below (possibly Uijeongbu, but I’m really not sure). We didn’t get any photos, though, because the wind was strong enough that Craig was worried his camera would be blown off the ledge. The wind was nothing like our walk to the World Cup Stadium, though, so I think he was worrying for nothing.

The camera was being tightly gripped, so the wind couldn't snatch it away.

The final day of walking took us less than four hours, and brought us to the spot where we finished the second day of the walk, when the Dulegil was only 44km long. On that day, we had happened across a lamb restaurant which served lamb Korean galbi style. Not surprisingly, we started talking about that restaurant long before we reached the end of the trail. We had been just about the only customers there on our previous visit, so I didn’t think it would still be in business. We were in luck, though.

We were the only customers, but this time we were there on a Sunday afternoon, so it wasn’t so surprising. We ordered lamb chops and lamb galbi. Once we saw how large the chops were and how many side dishes we were served, we didn’t think we would be able to eat the galbi. I asked the ajumma if we could get that wrapped to go, if we were too full. She didn’t bat an eyelash, so we then asked if we could get 100,000 won of meat wrapped to go. She presented us with two heavy bags, one of galbi and one of lamb chops. We divided it into seven meals when we got home. Yum!

With a table for six covered in side dishes, we didn't need the second plate of lamb...

We had one final stroke of luck on the way home– while waiting for a bus to Gangnam Station, one arrived going to the Renaissance Hotel. Less than an hour later, we were home enjoying a glass of wine. As you do after a strenuous walk of nearly four hours followed by enough lamb to feed a family of four.

We have talked about walking the Dulegil in reverse, but I doubt it will happen. For one thing, on at least four of the six days, we encountered something which made me very happy we were  not walking in the opposite direction. For another thing, I found a book at Kyobo called 200 Walks in and Around Seoul. That should keep us occupied for the rest of the time we live here…