Hiking in Seoraksan National Park, day 2: toward Daechongbong

After the first day of hiking in Seoraksan, I thought we had just been lucky to choose the most spectacular trail in the park, and that day two might be a disappointment, but not only did Monday dawn sunny instead of hazy but we also happened upon an amazing trail up a rocky gorge, with pools of clear blue water, several waterfalls, gorgeous foliage, and above all amazing rocks. The guidebook simply described it as one of the routes up to Daechongbong, the highest peak in the park and an 11-hour roundtrip, so we decided to just hike up for a few hours and see how it went.

We got an early start to give ourselves the opportunity for a nice long hike, and boy was it a butt-kicker! The first few miles of the trail were crowded, mostly with hikers going more slowly than we were, and so we would struggle to get past the big groups of slow hikers and then feel like we couldn’t stop lest we end up having to pass the same groups again! So we hiked rapidly up and up and up through stunning scenery.

After two hours or so the crowds thinned somewhat and the trail steepened even further. I can’t believe the number of stone stairs we climbed up and up. Wearily we made it to a high pass with spectacular views down at the valley we had climbed and out to the mountains beyond.

Following lunch there, we could make our way much more slowly down the trail, with much less company en route and plenty of time to just gaze in awe at the scenery we were lucky enough to be passing through. Photos wouldn’t do it justice. Among our fellow hikers were a man who proudly declared he was 72 as he hiked rapidly down from the 1100m pass and a friendly woman who chatted with us in English for a while, both of which made for nice encounters.

On the way home, Michael found raving reviews for an Italian restaurant kind of in the middle of nowhere so we ended up having a delicious dinner and getting to go home early and collapse into bed!

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