Visiting Korea's highest mountain... well, kind of!

Hallasan National Park Travel Blog

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Volcanic scenery on the Eorimok Trail

People who contributed to, and improved my trip:

When i woke up on Monday and went to leave my room, i was confronted by the guy who had rented the room to me and he kept pointing at some washing on the line outside. I kept shaking my head, as i hadn't given him any to do, but in the end i just went over to it, to stop him from speaking to me in Korean. To my shock, all my dirty clothes that i had worn on the ferry ride over from Busan were on the line, freshly washed. I wasn't sure whether to hug him or be annoyed that he had been in my room. I decided to just smile and thank him in Korean, then leave whilst the going was good.

I caught a bus to the main bus station, bought some food from the bakery across the road and then caught another bus out to Hallasan National Park.

Soldiers patrolling the Eorimok Trail
From where the bus dropped me off, it took about 10 minutes to walk to the Park Entrance and all the while i was looking at the scenery and trying to figure out which mountain was Hallasan, Korea's highest peak at 1950m. As it turned out, every guess was wrong, as from what i could eventually tell, you didn't get a view until near the end of the hike.

I had chosen to walk up the 4.7km Eorimok Trail to the top and take the 3.7km Yeongsil Trail back down again. Sadly this trail no longer runs all the way up to the top of Hallasan, as there has been such bad environmental damage that they have chosen to close the path for at least a decade. Although this is disappointing, i understand and agree with the policy as it will benefit the area in the long term.

For some reason no one asked for an entry fee at the start of the Trail, which was a bonus and i was soon working my way along a gently sloping path.
Me stood in some snow with Hallasan in the background
Just as i was beginning to think that it was going to be a doddle, the mountain fought back and i was faced with what seemed like a never ending flight of steps, rising into the forest. On the plus side, the birds were singing, the woodpeckers were pecking and birds of prey circled above, hoping that Brit below might collapse and turn out to be lunch!

On the down side there were a hell of a lot of school children on their way down, who had obviously made a much earlier start than me. Some were pleasant enough and said hello, but plenty were giggling away and trying to show off to their friends by been cheeky to the foreigner. I even passed a large group of soldiers on their descent, I'm not sure if they had been training or just fancied a nice day out.

A couple of kilometres into the trail, the terrain leveled out and the going became easier.
Crows at the Witseoreum Shelter
As i gained my first sighting of Hallasan, it was clear that i was at a reasonable altitude, as patches of ice covered areas of the path. As i reached the end of the ascent, i was greeted by a large number of crows sitting on a fence and the surrounding viewing deck, trying to get food from picnickers. The views of Hallasan were very nice, but i was still a little disappointed not to be climbing to the top to see the crater lake.

A short break for lunch at the 1700m marker and then i began my descent. I passed by the interesting Yeongsilgiam Rocks and even got to spot one of the 1700 Roe Deer that remain in the Park. Fog drifted in sporadically, making for an eerie, yet interesting walk.

At the foot of the hill, the Lousy Planet said it was just a 20 minute walk to the bus stop, so i tried to walk as slowly as possible, as i still had quite some time until my bus left.
A view of Hallasan from Witseoreum Shelter
When i arrived into the car park and asked where the bus departed from, the ticket collector began waving his arm, gesturing it was still a long way down the road. I got my book out and looked at the map of the area, the bus stop was located 3 or 4km down the road, so why had it said 20 minutes? I worked out that if i fast walked the distance, i might just make it, so set off hell for leather.

15 minutes later a middle aged Korean couple pulled over in their car and motioned for me to get in. I said 'Jeju-Si' and they shook their head, but then said 'bus stop', so i thought it seemed a good idea to get in with them. When we reached the area where i thought the bus stop was, they didn't want to let me get out, and started saying 'big bus stop'. I figured they knew what they were on about, until about 10 minutes later when they pulled a map out, and i realised they were also tourists on the island!

15 minutes later we were nearing the South of the island, which was as far from Jeju-Si as you can get, when they pulled over, showed me a tiny bus stop and pretty much chucked me out.
A roe deer on the Yeongsil Trail
What the hell had they gone and done that for! I was now in a far worse position than when they had met me. I went to the timetable, which was in Korean and tried to see if the characters said Jeju-Si. Not only did they not have the right name on, but the buses were only hourly and then they would take me somewhere that i didn't want to be going!

I entered the nearest shop with a look of desperation and pointed at my map where i wanted to go, then showed the guy the bus stop. He shook his head and chatted with a female colleague, before finally leading me outside and getting into his van. I didn't have much choice, so jumped in alongside him. We ended up driving even further South to a town called Jungmun, where i was dropped at another bus stop. Thankfully this one was the right stop and 10 minutes later the bus turned up.
The Yeongsilgiam rocks, on the Yeongsil Trail
I arrived into Jeju-Si hours after setting off, but at least i made it back!

I went out for some Dinner at a nearby Department Store, which had a range of cafes on the top floor. I settled for a really good pork cutlet with some rice, sauce, soup and yoghurt. It had been a long and tiring day, so after catching up with Julia on the internet, i went home to bed. When i looked in the mirror whilst brushing my teeth, i realised i had got a ludicrous sun burn, covering only the part of my head which hadn't been covered by my beanie. I looked a right fool! Nothing new there i hear you say!

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Volcanic scenery on the Eorimok Tr…
Volcanic scenery on the Eorimok T…
Soldiers patrolling the Eorimok Tr…
Soldiers patrolling the Eorimok T…
Me stood in some snow with Hallasa…
Me stood in some snow with Hallas…
Crows at the Witseoreum Shelter
Crows at the Witseoreum Shelter
A view of Hallasan from Witseoreum…
A view of Hallasan from Witseoreu…
A roe deer on the Yeongsil Trail
A roe deer on the Yeongsil Trail
The Yeongsilgiam rocks, on the Yeo…
The Yeongsilgiam rocks, on the Ye…
The road leading to the Eorimok Tr…
The road leading to the Eorimok T…
A view from the beginning of the E…
A view from the beginning of the …
Bridge on the Eorimok Trail
Bridge on the Eorimok Trail
Bridge on the Eorimok Trail
Bridge on the Eorimok Trail
Eorimok Trail
Eorimok Trail
The countless steps on the Eorimok…
The countless steps on the Eorimo…
Eorimok Trail
Eorimok Trail
Eorimok Trail
Eorimok Trail
Volcanic scenery on the Eorimok Tr…
Volcanic scenery on the Eorimok T…
Volcanic scenery on the Eorimok Tr…
Volcanic scenery on the Eorimok T…
Soldiers patrolling the Eorimok Tr…
Soldiers patrolling the Eorimok T…
My first sight of Hallasan, on the…
My first sight of Hallasan, on th…
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimok…
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimo…
Ice still covering the mountains i…
Ice still covering the mountains …
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimok…
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimo…
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimok…
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimo…
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimok…
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimo…
Mist descends across the path of t…
Mist descends across the path of …
Mist descends on the Eorimok Trail
Mist descends on the Eorimok Trail
Crow at the Witseoreum Shelter
Crow at the Witseoreum Shelter
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimok…
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimo…
Crows at the Witseoreum Shelter
Crows at the Witseoreum Shelter
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimok…
A view of Hallasan, on the Eorimo…
Crows at the Witseoreum Shelter
Crows at the Witseoreum Shelter
A view of Hallasan from Witseoreum…
A view of Hallasan from Witseoreu…
A view of Hallasan from Witseoreum…
A view of Hallasan from Witseoreu…
A view of Hallasan from Witseoreum…
A view of Hallasan from Witseoreu…
A view of Hallasan from the Yeongs…
A view of Hallasan from the Yeong…
A view of Hallasan, with ice visib…
A view of Hallasan, with ice visi…
A view of Hallasan from the Yeongs…
A view of Hallasan from the Yeong…
A view of Hallasan from the Yeongs…
A view of Hallasan from the Yeong…
Mist descends across the Yeongsil …
Mist descends across the Yeongsil…
Sun gets caught behind the clouds
Sun gets caught behind the clouds
Mist descends across the mountains…
Mist descends across the mountain…
Mist descends across the mountains…
Mist descends across the mountain…
Mist descends across the mountains…
Mist descends across the mountain…
Volcanic landscape on the Yeongsil…
Volcanic landscape on the Yeongsi…
Mist descends across the Yeongsilg…
Mist descends across the Yeongsil…
Mist descends across the Yeongsilg…
Mist descends across the Yeongsil…
The Yeongsilgiam rocks, on the Yeo…
The Yeongsilgiam rocks, on the Ye…
A roe deer in front of the Yeongsi…
A roe deer in front of the Yeongs…
A roe deer in front of the Yeongsi…
A roe deer in front of the Yeongs…
A crow perches on a branch on the …
A crow perches on a branch on the…
Scenery from the Yeongsil Trail
Scenery from the Yeongsil Trail
Gnarly tree on the Yeongsil Trail
Gnarly tree on the Yeongsil Trail
Scenery from the Yeongsil Trail
Scenery from the Yeongsil Trail
Acorn tree on the Yeongsil Trail
Acorn tree on the Yeongsil Trail
High tech toilet with seat warmer …
High tech toilet with seat warmer…
Hallasan National Park
photo by: Deats