01 May, 2006

Saturday, April 22nd--Odaesan National Park

The blossoms have been out for awhile now, but the temperatures have been less than spring-like. Last weekend, however, it was finally nice enough for a few of us to head to the mountains for what we thought would be a lovely, relaxing day of hiking. Attitudes were optimistic, Odaesan National Park the destination. April, Marc, Bryce and I met at the bus terminal at 11am to catch an 11: 40 bus to Jinbu. Please follow my story through the pictures below.
I knew it was going to be a good trip when Marc immediately took off his shirt to illustrate his opinion of the temperature on Korean buses. Poor April. It was a forty minute bus ride.
On arriving in Jinbu, we were directed to the bus that was to take us to the park. We found it easily, and it departed fairly promptly. The bus driver whipped us up the winding road with the help of the handy knob on his steering wheel. It was 9km of potholed, dirt road fun.
I took the opportunity to snap a shot of April while we were paused to buy park entrance tickets.
Bryce and I looked on as April and Marc had a pre-hike smoke. "What, guys? It's completely natural!"
The hike started with a .3km climb to Sangwonsa Temple.
We enjoyed the lovely architecture and picturesque setting.
I attempted to be creative and artistic.
The trail beyond the temple was not as much 'trail' as it was 'staircase'. Those of you who know me would never believe that I was lagging behind purely for photographic purposes, but I'll try saying that I was anyway. Colorful lanterns lined the way, adding to the already scenic climb.
I took many small breaks as we climbed...
...and climbed.
At this point, the trail turned from dry and rocky to wet and muddy.
The afternoon sun was beautiful coming through the trees, and the temperature was great--not too hot, not too cold.
The sky through the trees,
and distant mountains through the trees.
On one of our breaks we sat trail-side and told stupid jokes. I documented the welt on my forhead that was the result of a freak nut-throwing incident. And, no, I didn't need to be wearing earrings, but as Nathan Lane's character says in The Birdcage, 'One does want a hint of color...'
I snapped this photo thinking we were nearing the end, but it turned out not to be true.
This is not merely a photo of a particularly muddy spot but a representation of nearly half the trail--squish! (The other half was stairs.)
Almost there...
...and yes! There actually WAS a peak!
There were mountains for miles.
Me with the proof--Odaesan, Birobong, haebal 1,563m. Marc lit up for a peak-top smoke.
The hike down went much more quickly.
At 6:00PM we got to the bottom. We checked the very rudimentary bus stop sign and concluded that there was a 6:50PM bus. We waited...
...and waited...
...and waited...
...and waited.
At 7:10 we realized that there probably wasn't going to be a bus. We took a quick group photo and started walking (please recall here that the bus ride from the ticket booth was 9km).
We started walking in fading daylight.
We walked for two hours in the dark.
We were very tired but actually kept the crankiness to a minimum.
Fortunately we had some water left.
I was not above sitting in the road to stretch.
When we finally reached the gate, some friendly and more than helpful hotel keepers called us taxi. Bryce and Marc chatted in German with a couple of the guys while we waited. The taxi was a most welcome sight, and we didn't even mind that it was about twenty dollars for the ride into Jinbu.
In Jinbu, we caught one of the last buses back to Gangneung. We got in at 10:30. And since we hadn't eaten a real meal since 11:00AM, our first order of business was dinner. We shoveled dwaejigalbi down our throats in silence with our heads bent low over the table. That would have made the perfect concluding picture, but I didn't have the presence of mind at that point to get out my camera. The end.


laufenem said...

That's pretty much a typical Marge hiking story.

Margie said...

thanks, em.

Brenda Toby and Ella said...

Margie, you will never forget that hike! What an adventure and how beautiful are those mountains! Brenda