Hiking Mt. Gwanaksan

4 Sep

Goodbye rainy summer & hello my beloved fall!

We meet at last.

I don’t know about you, but my summer seemed to fly by (typhoons and all), and as I type this, I’m honestly having a hard time believing that it’s already September.

Last month seems like a blur of activities: moving, teaching, Tokyoing, G’s never-ending business tripping, interviewing…  I didn’t let myself breathe deeply enough.

But, September is going to be different.  My goal for this month is to live presently every day & be thankful every day.

***

G must have been reading my overly-yogaed-bizarrely-optimistic-mind because out-of-le-blue, he proposed a Saturday morning hike at Gwanaksan.

G planning a hike?  Now THAT is something to smile about – September is already off to a good start!

So, we woke up early (Huge weekend accomplishment for us!) & donned our lightest (and obviously shortest) hiking gear, and headed to…

our favorite bakery!

What?  Every hike, no matter how short, is a perfect excuse to carb-load.

Yum.

After our decadent breakfast, we took a short subway ride to one of the many trail-heads of Gwanaksan.

 -For directions, scroll to the bottom of post-

Yes, you read correctly, a subway stop near the hiking trail.

Unlike most cities, hiking in Seoul is extremely accessible – even for those without cars – because Koreans absolutely LOVE to hike.

So, we got to the trail pretty easily – sun was shining, weather was sweet…

and as G and I stair-mastered our way up the mountain (the fist 1/2 of the hike was entirely uphill), we were rewarded with beautiful scenic views

both of the mountain & of Korean hiking fashion.

Welcome to the land of cutting-edge hiking outfits.

Neon sweat-wicking clothes, the newest hiking shoes, ski poles, and serious hiking/gardening gloves – and they all match perfectly.

B.T.W. I have NO IDEA how people were wearing long sleeved hiking gear (no joke, at one point we saw a man in a North Face ski jacket) because it was a steaming 33° and G & I were sweating like animals.

No, really, how were we the only two people dripping sweat on this mountain!?

…This obviously gave me a lot to think about while hiking…

Embarrassingly enough, I was so completely consumed by this sweating conundrum that I almost didn’t notice the small Buddhist temple perched atop the mountainside.

(This temple is actually called the Yeonjuam Hermitage, and was founded in 677 AD by the Ven.)

Nothing like coming face to face with a golden Buddha to clean your mind of ridiculous sweaty thoughts.

Not to shabby for a mid-hike pause & prayer.

Talk about hitting my goals for the month!

I spent the rest of the hike silently amazed by the serenity of Gwanaksan…

okay, so maybe I was also lightly complaining about my aching grandma knees…

but mostly I was just enjoying the sweet green escape from the city & looking forward to the next time Gwanaksan & I meet again

***

Directions:

Take subway to Gwacheon Station (Line 4, exit#7)

Walk straight out of exit #7 & take a LEFT at the main intersection where the walk-way ends (at which point you cannot continue forward, only right or left).

Follow the road until you see a big brown side on your right- this is the entrance to the mountain.

At this point, there are two paths up the mountain, and we took Trail #1 which is shorter, well marked and has stairs, bridges, and ropes.  Although there are no signs distinguishing between the two trails (making it a bit puzzling for foreigners), Trail #1 starts off near a small parking lot and near a group of Korean restaurants.

For fast walkers, the hike up should take about 1hr & 45min.

Going down the mountain is a bit of an experiment, we followed signs for Sadang Station (사당역) and ended up on a beautiful, but rocky path down, which eventually merged with our original trail.

It took us about 1hr to reach the bottom.

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One Response to “Hiking Mt. Gwanaksan”

  1. Kajtek February 28, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    You used one of my photos in your hiking-dobongsan page (I am izsak02). I am glad you found it useful.

    Mt. Gwanaksan was the mountain I missed in my traverse on Mt. Samseongsan (http://hikecampandtravel.com/south-korea-mt-samseongsan.php). I actually thought I was in Mt. Gwanaksan at that time. I also met a very nice Korean fellow there where I was first introduced to “drinking while hiking”.

    I enjoyed reading your hiking experiences here. Thank you for sharing.

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