Seoraksan National Park

A lovely view over Seoraksan National Park. Posted by Picasa

I just got back from one of the best weekends I have ever had in Korea! Friday night, immediately after work, Erin and I booked it to the bus station just in time to make the evening’s final bus to Sokcho city on the east coast. With it being the first day of the Chuseok holiday weekend (Korea’s equivalent to Thanksgiving), we were expecting traffic. However, it was a little hard to believe what should have been a 3 1/2 hour drive turned into eight hours of highway hell. We finally arrived in Sokcho around 3:30 am, found a 24-hour sauna to call home for the night, and fell asleep.

Buddha guarding the Seoraksan entrance. Posted by Picasa

My climbing buddies: Erin, Josh, and Sonia. Posted by Picasa

We awoke to a rainy Saturday morning and met up with two climbers we met on an online Korean climbing forum, Sonia and Josh. Together the four of us took the bus to Seoraksan National Park, unarguably the most beautiful and pristine of Korea’s numerous national parks. We hiked about an hour up to a little mountain hut, which consists of numerous wooden platforms for sleeping and large windows showcasing spectacular sweeping views of the mountains and a stream. We were feeling lazy, but finally forced ourselves out into the rain for a late-afternoon hike. We came back to the hut, made dinner, and passed out for the night.

So excited about climbing, it shows on my face! Posted by Picasa

Sunday morning we hiked about two hours with all of our climbing gear to the great Ulsanbawi rock wall. Unfortunately, we found that there was no sport climbing to be had there. We hiked back down the mountain, through the forest, over a river, and on to a different climbing spot, this time getting lucky. As the sun was quickly setting, we each only did one climb (I actually succeeded in finishing one of the hardest and most dangerous climbs I have ever attempted…Yay!) before strapping on headlamps and hiking back the two hours to our hut. Once we got back, Erin and I had a quick dip in the cold rivers of the stream, ate dinner, and fell asleep early.

Nothing like the gurgling sounds of a stream to get you in the mountain mood. Posted by Picasa

Monday morning we headed back to the previous day’s climbing spot for a full afternoon of climbing. We got to take in the beauty of the area with it’s waterfalls and gorgeous mountain rock. Unfortunately, we came to Seoraksan just a couple weeks shy of the changing colors of the leaves, but it was still a fabulous sight! That night, Erin and Josh left, as they had to work on Tuesday, and Sonia and I dragged our aching bodies back to the hut and into bed.

Trying to conquer the great overhang. Posted by Picasa

This morning started out sunny and clear, but as we were leaving Seoraksan, the clouds began to roll in. I refused to let this put a damper on my day’s plans to relax on Sokcho Beach, though. The beach was a gorgeous stretch of clean white sand, and Sonia and I were pleasantly surprised to find the cool ocean water to be a deep clear shade of turquoise. Miraculously, after lunch the sunlight burst through the clouds and we were blessed with a couple hours of quality tanning time…this was the first time my body has seen the light of day in a year, so it was actually more along the lines of quality “burning” time, for me.

The beautiful water at Sokcho Beach. Posted by Picasa

When we had had enough of the beach, we hopped on a bus for Seoul…this one actually only took 3 1/2 hours, thank goodness. Tonight I feel completely refreshed and well-rested…and ready to tackle my final month in Korea!

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