Hiking, Korea, Mountains, Road Walking
Comments 7

A Gold Medal Morning in Seorak-San


Greetings, folks. Never blogged from a bus before, but here goes. It’s a wild ride for writer and reader alike here on TGTW, where we explore the uncharted frontiers of the Blogosphere, at least until motion sickness kicks in.

Well, the adventure’s over — for now. What a trip. I’ve now found the most beautiful corner of Korea, the wildest backcountry, ruggedest ridges and maple-most mountain paths. Soerak-San, I’ll be back. Don’t go away.

I left the castle yesterday, they raised the drawbridge and I promptly found a good coffee shop. The bus passed while the smiling old man made my latte; win some, lose some. Another one soon arrived and I stepped out into another day-tripping swarm of lurid synthetics and flashing trekking poles. Overhead, the cable car swept loads of them up to the 860m crest of Mt Gwongeum, where the remains of an old fortress have survived for over 700 years.

I have an ideological aversion to cable cars and a well documented thing for ruined fortifications; I’d hike up the mountain later. First, though, I raced along a stream to see Biryeong Falls, where the water (the name refers to a dragon, a popular moniker for waterfalls in Japan as well) snaked down into a perfectly circular pool.

I had some vague description of a disused hiking path to the fortress but found it blocked. At last I surrendered my principles at the gate, joined a long but fast-moving queue and was soon on the mountain, my wallet almost $2 lighter for each of the five minutes the journey took. I think I see why they closed the path.

It was a circus up there — the picture gives a hint. A precipitous drop to certain death on one side did not deter the exuberant horde. I saw only a tiny glimpse of old stone walls. The summit sported a flapping Korean flag and a little souvenir stall where intrepid mountaineers like yours truly could purchase a $10 medal specially engraved to commemorate their five-minute assault on the summit. Mine says “GOAT” and I will wear it with pride at all future public engagements.

After that my afternoon was an open book, so I decided to walk back to Sokcho. It was good to be road-walking again; two hours later I reached the coast not long before sundown and then another hour north I made Sokcho Beach where I dined in Lotteria and laid out my bedroll in a copse of pines near the water. Slept well despite the whistle and crackle of thousands, nay, millions of firecrackers. Rose at 5:00 for the hour’s stroll to the bus station.

I will write up my journey in a little more detail over the next week. I have nearly 500 pictures to sort through. Tomorrow it’s school again. I intend to wear my medal to class in the hope that it confers some additional respect.

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote



  1. Association between waterfalls and dragons is quite obvious. Apart from physical similarities, dragons are associated with water. Furthermore, the ideogram for waterfall is dragon (龍) with the water radical (瀧).

  2. That’s some stylish looking engraving on the medal! Oh yeah, it looks like bedlam in the background!

    • Yes, I think I’ll rechristen the place Mt Bedlam! Crazy, I wouldn’t want to do stuff like that too often — but fun, and a nice lighthearted conclusion to my little adventure.

      I tried to tell the engraver my name in Korean but he didn’t understand me. Most disheartening!

  3. No peace and solitude there, but I guess you had your fix elsewhere. I am looking forward to the shots of the waterfall and perfect circular pool.

    • Stay tuned, Rachael. I have another sequence or two of dawn shots that I’m pretty happy with. Those water shots are OK but iffy light and the need for speed/mileage.

      Yes, you grab your solitude with both hands and hold tight over here. You know it’ll soon be slipping through your greedy fingers…

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