Friday, April 15, 2011

A climb to the top

Phew, can you believe it, Oliver and I are into our last month in Korea and it is steaming ahead quickly.

Last weekend we headed to a place we have been meaning to go to since we arrived, Seoraksan National Park. We know that Autumn is the most beautiful time to visit but we also know that that is when prices sky rocket and there are incredible crowds, so much so that you can't take a step in front of you without someone knowing about it. Now I am no seasoned mountain climber but that doesn't sound like an ideal way to climb a mountain. When I am huffing and puffing I need time to stop and having someone cramped up just behind me just would not be great. So we lost the best scenery for a more comfortable climb and it turned out to spectacular!

The tops of the mountains were still covered in snow and from a distance this gave them a very distinguished look and near the bottom flowers were beginning to bloom and sprout of colour were making their way to the surface. It was amazing, possibly one of the most beautiful places I have been to in Korea.

But getting these views was no picnic. In fact it was tough. Let's just say that my fitness is comparable with a sloth and I am not the biggest fan of exercise despite loving the outdoors. The first half of the climb was more like a leisurely stroll through beautiful pine trees and over babbling brooks but once we reached the first milestone Heundae Bawi (rock) things became a little (MUCH) tougher.

We had started the 808 step ascent to the top. Now these aren't steps like the ones you would see at a shopping mall. For my midget legs (Oliver likes to call them Frodollic*) some of these steps were huge and required a massive amount of effort. Others were small but on a very steep incline, at times it was frightening. I had reached an ultimate point of exertion, all I wanted to do was cry and Oliver was still all smiles taking photos here and there and urging me one like a good boyfriend (who, might I had, does not have Frodollic legs).

Once at the top is was breath-taking (possibly because of the climb, possibly because of the view). The wind was strong so we zipped up our jackets and sat about for a while taking photos and looking at the awesomeness in front of us. (Oliver has amazing photos from the day but his computer crashed on Tuesday and we are trying to salvage all of his stuff )

Then it was time for the walk down, after having rested for a while my legs decided to turn to jelly and were shaking at will. Not the most ideal situation when you are climbing down step stairs and over large, slippery rocks. After slipping once or twice we decided to slow down and did are descent and a nice, slow pace. By  the time we reached the bottom we were both pooped.

We hopped on a bus and headed for Sokcho (the closest town to the park), found a very cheap place to stay, had a shower from heaven and then head out the door. Yes, we were both tires but Sokcho has a night time fish market and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit it!

We ate squid stuffed with rice and vegetable covered in fried egg...Yum! Then we weaved through the fish stalls and took in the sights and smells of Korea, something we know we won't get to enjoy for too much longer.

After about two hours we were both tired and it was time to headback for a good night's rest.

Oliver was out like a light but I body was in pain. I am embarrassed to say but my body was super stiff. I was still feeling it badly on Monday and walking down stairs was a nightmare but now I am recovered and I am looking forward to our next climb...Chiaksan National Park in two weeks.

Post by Claudia

*Frodollic (a term coined by Oliver) is when someone has features that are similar to Froddo from Lord of the Rings. So short legs = Frodollic


Anonymous said...

Seoraksan is awesome. I visited in late August and there weren't too many people (other than that huge group I went with), but I was surprised that it was stair-climbing instead of path climbing.

I hope you two make the most of your last month! :) I can't wait to go back.

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