In the Winds


Seoraksan Cider
November 8, 2008, 4:43 am
Filed under: Korea

Short Version: Last weekend, we trekked up to Seoraksan National Park with 4 friends and a dog. Long roadtrip, the smell of campfire, high hills and hiking, beautiful fall colors. SATISFYING!

Roadtrip Van

Roadtrip Van

Early last Saturday morning, Eric and I met up with two friends from church and two coworkers at a sleepy corner Starbucks. The six of us plus a tiny dog named Bailey piled into a modern-day hippie van to trek up to Seoraksan National Park, which we thought was about a 5-hour drive away. With five of us in actual seats and one in a blanket-nest in the back, the dog sprawled across laps, we spent the morning hours eating gummy worms and listening to everything from the latest Derek Webb album to classic eighth-grade hits like “Summer Girls” by LFO (she said unashamedly).

Seven hours later, after a few u-turns, stretch breaks, and slow hauls up mountain switchbacks in the overloaded van, we made it….to the largest limestone caves in Asia. With our cramped legs, we hiked up to 2,600 feet and got into the caves just before closing. They were incredible. We walked through huge caverns, saw beautiful rock formations, and even passed a bridge over “Hell Canyon,” complete with skeletons which offered the forgiveness of all sin. Oh, Korea. That said, the caves were really unique.

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Internet Picture - ours just didn't turn out..

After another few hours in the car, we made it to just outside of Seoraksan Park. In the light of headlamps and headlights, we set up some borrowed tents, gathered damp firewood, and made dinner. Jen had made some amazing chili, which we heated up and followed with s’mores and her homemade apple cider. It was a BEAUTIFUL night – compared to the high-rise smog of Busan, to breathe fresh air and to see stars for the first time since coming to Korea was really refreshing.

We woke up the next morning to fall colors and high hills. We ate a quick breakfast, packed up, and headed to the park…along with hoards of others. We were made to park about a 20-minute walk from the park’s actual entrance, and we all walked en masse towards the mountains, passing vendors selling steamed corn on the cob, boiled silk-worm larva, and morning tea. Even the walk to the park was beautiful though. Seoraksan is right next to the ocean, so the elevation is anything but gradual. Hills over 1,000 feet high just shoot up out of the ground; there are strange rock formations, and gorgeous fall trees everywhere.

yellow-path

We chose to hike up Ulsan Rock, and it took us about an hour before we reached the sheer rock face of the mountain.

Ulsan Rock

Ulsan Rock

There, we set out to climb over 800 steps, fixed seemingly precariously to the rock. I won’t lie – I’ve never been afraid of heights, but after climbing about 300 steps straight up, with shaky legs and white knuckles on the cold metal railing, my stomach felt like it dropped 2 feet down.

Initial set of stairs going up...

Initial set of stairs going up...

When we stopped to look back....

When we stopped to look back....

Pausing frequently to get our breath back and to shake out our legs, we made our way toward the top, even seeing a real-live moutain goat on the way – our first wild-animal sighting in Korea! At the top, the wind was COLD, so we bought a hot chocolate from the vendor at the very summit (kind of killed the nature aspect, oh well). The view was incredible. To the right – the ocean. To the left – layers and layers of rocky peaks.

The top

The top

eric-top1

We stayed up there for a few minutes before heading down the kind of incline where you just sort of want to let go of control and jelly-leg run down the bottom, crashing in a heap, rather than using your muscles any further to go down step after step.

We still can't get over how steep these were. These pictures don't do it justice.

We still can't get over how steep these stairs were. These pictures don't do it justice.

us

We stopped to eat a lunch of sweet-potato pajang before trekking down and out of the park. With weary feet, we piled into the van once again for the long drive back. We rode the freeway until we arrived home to Busan around 1 a.m.

kid-leaf

Despite being exhausted the next morning, it was one of the best weekends and experiences we’ve had in Korea. Our eyes had their nature need satisfied, and it was good for our souls to do something OUTSIDE.

red-leaf

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9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

this last photo is fantastic! nice to see fall color is still in full bloom somewhere. its a bustery, sleety, cold morning here in the big mpls.

Comment by abby cullen

The picture of Eric on the rock is incredible!!

Comment by Mom Kurtz

wow! those pic’s make me jealous. In Minnesota the colors were not that vibrant this year. At least along the St. Croix valley. We miss you guys.
Cheers!

Comment by Drew

Wow, that area looks so beautiful and I’m sure the pictures don’t even do it justice.

I can imagine what a blessing it must be to be able to have a little get-away and enjoy God’s creation.

Comment by Darren Johnson

You got 6 and a dog in that van!! Nice trip tho…

Comment by Ron Berget

WOW! Nice Work! Loved the pic.s and miss you more than you can imagine!

Comment by Melody

Eric and Liz, Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos and your journal comments. May the Lord continue to bless you with good health and energy so you can take a few more excursions. I love your hippie van! I think the last photo could win a contest!

Comment by Aunt Sheila Link

I love the van! Maybe you guys should think about buying one. Maybe the Colorado mountains should learn from Korea and offer something at the top of the peak.

Comment by Katie Robinson

just wanted to say that i was the first to exclaim
“WOW” on this comment thread.
The pics do deserve more than one though.

Comment by Drew




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