Contributor Steve Oberhauser has meticulously planned (and now will execute) an ambitious project to hike and write about all the main Jeju mountain trails, every oreum (volcanic cone) open to the public (about 150 of them), and assess every Olle trail, all in the span of about 50 days. Look for Steve’s reports over the coming weeks, and as always you can send your feedback to Steve and The Weekly on our Facebook page (Facebook.com/JejuWeekly). —Ed.
The Journey These are the top 13 sites in sequential order for Day 8: Gwangchigi Beach, Olle Course No. 1 finish / Olle Course No. 2 start - Olle reference point - Siksanbong, entrance/exit - Siksanbong, peak - Ojo village - Olle reference point - Crossroads, Hong Mart - Daesusanbong, base - Daesusanbong, peak - Olle reference point - Honinji - Onpyeong, Olle Course No. 2 finish / Olle Course No. 3 start - Onpyeong center square, harbor
Spent Hong Mart -- 4,500 PC room -- 5,500 Hong Mart -- 4,000 market -- 4,900 Total -- 18,900 won Consumed 3 liters Red Burst Gatorade, 1.5 liters Pocari Sweat, 1 can mackerel (godeungeo), 1 bag potato chips, 1 Vitamin C tablet, endless amounts of water
Thoughts from Day 8 Olle Course No. 2. It stretches 17.2 kilometers from Gwangchigi Beach (close to Seongsan Sunrise Peak) to Onpyeong. Finally, halfway through this course, I feel Jeju’s nature is slowly revealing itself. As the fourth course completed, I was tired of the constant urban landscape and development mix.
Siksanbong. Close from the start of the course, one of the shortest oreum on the island is to be climbed in Siksanbong. Very basic. Two interesting things from the signs. First, attacked by Japanese raiders since the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), “the town’s commander covered up the peak with rice straws to disguise as a huge military base.” Second, from the botany department, there are 20 rare species of hamabo mallow (hibiscus hamabo) growing here, the tallest being five meters in height, according to a government sign.
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
Crab crossing. Since Jeju doesn’t have any real large wild game around, any nature action will suffice. Watching multitudes of small crabs (claws up) cross the Olle path around the Seongsan inland fisheries area was a decent way to start the morning.
Another good crossing. It’s called the Hong Mart. Being on an Olle trail, any market is a good sight. However, one that has fruit and more selections one can handle is always special. I was introduced here to Red Burst Gatorade, I believe is the name. I’ll take what I can get. Never know what will come next.
Daesusanbong. It has a crater, supposedly at the top, as I could not see with all the foliage. It also has a large silver tower in plain view. I’m not sure for what purpose. Unsightly. Forever, the oreum is marred. Luckily, on the descent, there were kilometers and kilometers of something different...
Nature emerges right about here. Yeah, I was getting worried, all this hiking around Jeju would really not give me a chance to see any real nature. It is slowly coming out. The stretch from Daesusanbong to Onpyeong, is fitting of the word tranquil. Not wild, but it’s a start.
What have I found? Not what I’m looking for. Myself? No. (A few people have asked me whether I was hiking to find myself. Really? I’m going to find myself as a foreigner on Jeju? Maybe I’ve already been found.) Rather, another ongoing reason, I was interested in talking to a few foreigners and/or Koreans that can speak English that are walking Olle, so I could get some quotes and ideas what the trail means to them for a story. All I’ve got so far (no foreigners) are “hellos,” “good mornings,” “fightings,” and “ohs.” I may have to wait until Jeju City to have my next intelligent conversation.
Horse nuzzlin’. During a brief period of the trail, hikers go inside and through an area where horses are free to roam, rather than tied up, like the cattle, as they are in so many other places around the island. And these were some big steed, not the Mongolian style. They showed their affection, nuzzling necks together.
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
Honinji. As concise as I can write, from the English version Olle Trail book: the founders of Jeju Island - Ko, Bu and Yang - brought three princesses down from a mythological land and married them. Near the pond, the wedding ceremony was held, so it was named honinji (wedding pond). … The area was pristine. Perfect upkeep. It was quiet. Maybe three people were strolling the grounds. I thought of sleeping here, but had to reach the goal.
Onpyeong. I love this place. My second visit. All good experiences. At the end of Olle Course No. 2 there is a traditional Jeju lighthouse, constructed of basalt rock masterfully put together. The sign says, “Fisherman used fish oil to light the lamps at dusk, and turned it off at dawn on their way home.” At the heart of the town are large, relatively clean common grassy areas in front of the harbor. Businesses run along across the road for a few blocks north and south. Absolutely safe. Slept out in the open in the town square. Maybe this is one place on the island where there still are no beggars, thieves, gates, and double barber poles. Date Sept. 13, 2011
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
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