20 October, 2006

Seoraksan, Daecheongbong, October 15th

Just north of Gangneung and west of Sokcho is Seoraksan which is one of the more famous national parks in Korea. It claims such fame in part, I believe, to the amazing colors in October. People flood the park by the coach-load, and hotels double their prices. It covers a large area, and there are many different hikes as well as hot springs. Morten got it in his head that we needed to climb the highest peak in the park (the third or fourth highest in South Korea), so we drove up early-ish on Sunday morning to scale 1708m (5603 ft) Mt. Seorak, or Daecheongbong. The 5km climb to the top was punctuated with rock stairs, metal stairs, wood stairs, and long lines of hikers, most of them coming down. The summit was so crowded that we had to stand in line to have our obligatory pictures with the obelisk. Morten had packed some tasty pasta salad for lunch, but I was so spent that I was only able to eat a few bites before my stomach revolted. I later explained delirious to Morten as being crazy from exhaustion, and he agreed that, yes, I had probably been delirious. The climb down was wonderfully solitary as most of the hikers had either already made the descent or were staying the night at the peak. We reached the car just as the last daylight was fading. Even though I couldn't walk for three days post-hike, I'm glad I did it, and we got some amazing photos.

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