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 16 sites in sequential order for Day 10: Pyoseon Beach, Olle Course No. 3 finish / Olle Course No. 4 start - Seaside, looking at Haevichi Resort - Gatneup (marsh) - Olle reference point - Olle reference point, past river and sea confluence - Olle reference point, past Shineville - Mang Oreum, base - Mang Oreum, peak 1 - Mang Oreum, peak 2 - Mang Oreum, opposite base - Geoseunsaemi (spring) - Yeongcheonsa (temple) - Olle reference point - Taheung-2-ri - Taheung harbor / park - Namwon Harbor, Olle Course No. 4 finish / Olle Course No. 5 start
Spent PC room -- 15,000 Family Mart -- 5,000 market -- 7,000 Namwon sauna -- 4,500 Family Mart -- 4,000 Total -- 35,500 won
Consumed 1.5 liters Pocari Sweat, 2 cans Lipton iced tea, 1 small coffee, 1 can mackerel (godeungeo), chicken bites, radish cubes, 3 bags potato chips, 1 bag coconut cookies, endless amounts of water
Thoughts from Day 10 Olle, asphalt, concrete and sun. I had to look up how Olle is defined in English by the organization. It states: Olle [Ole] is the Jeju word for a narrow pathway that is connected from the street to the front gate of a house. …” Olle Course No. 4 from Pyoseon Beach to Namwon Port, a lengthy 22.9 kms (the longest segment), is rarely on an Olle path. For the most part, and although rural throughout and in some parts rather lush, more than 80 percent, maybe 90 percent is either on wide asphalt or concrete stretches. Consider that and the hot sun baking a hiker in the process. That makes for a miserable experience. I found nothing pleasurable in No. 4. I thought I would have the same experience even if the weather was tolerable. The great thing is I just see this as a connection to something better toward Seogwipo.
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
Mang Oreum. With two craters at the top, this oreum was a base during the Joseon Dynasty, to create signal fires to communicate with other parts of the island, according to the English version Olle Trail book. I’m beginning to notice the oreum along some of the trails are only Olle oreum, meaning there would be no purpose to go there unless walking an Olle trail. Mang is an example of this.
Yeongcheonsa. A beautiful Buddhist temple set up on a hill, with feverish construction around. I did not explore inside. I do not want to say, seen one, seen them all, but it was part of the reason. All the temples in Korea I have been to, I want to retain a memory, not blur lines due to quantity and architectural similarities among most.
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
Olle thru-hiker statistics. I am now very intrigued by people who use the trail. I really don’t care about the mass groups or the person that says, “Let’s hike a trail today!” How many people have done a thru-hike starting from any location and finished with relatively little or no break and for what reasons? There must be people. Are they keeping track of this? Has anyone done a backward thru-hike? I have seen less than 50 people using Olle (no groups) on the six courses I have finished in the last 10 days (and only one person was going backward). I think a handful of those people were completing more than one trail based on what they were carrying. I passed my first person today. I was gimping along and overtook a very old man with a large backpack. I say about 10 people have passed me during all different points on the trail.
Tangerines. Jeju has a lot of them. One of the few positive things I can mention about Olle Course No. 4 is this is the place to inspect tangerine farms up close.
Geoseunsaemi (spring). I inspected a number of tangerine farms for water spigots, since my hope in this place delivered no drinkable water. This spring flows “up” in the direction of Mt. Halla. The Olle book states, according to legend, the Emperor of China “heard that a hero had been born on Jeju Island and so he sent troops to block the energy powers of the mountains and rivers.” This is one of two such springs that are still active today. But, it’s hot and dry and I was not able to sip off the spring since there was not enough substantial flow to grab the water after its dropping from any safe source. I scouted for a long time. I was forced to take water from the tangerine farms.
Namwon improvements. Since last year, Namwon has upgraded their port area by improving the water park, and built a bridge over the port to easily access the said water park. In addition, a large Olle trail office is at the finish of Course No. 4, complete with bathrooms. Not an improvement, but the Namwon sauna I walked into a few blocks from the harbor was real nice. The best sauna I have been to outside the two major cities on the island.
▲ An Olle rest area. Photo by Steve Oberhauser
Redundant food selections. Based on what is available at small marts and markets and what is good for me to eat for hiking, I only have a few choices: apples, bananas, hard-boiled eggs, crackers, chips, canned fish and ion supplying drinks.
Do you have shoes? I now simply take off my shoes before entering a sauna or PC room and leave them outside with my socks to air dry since there have been many, ummm, grumbled complaints about the malodorous smells emanating from my wet hiking boots and socks. (The working man at the Namwon sauna thought I literally was walking around town barefoot. Yep, those tribal, white foreigners are all around Jeju Island walking with no shoes on their feet.) Sure, those odors are horrendous. However, I do remember suffering various times, through classes filled with 35 high school boys, immediately after their gym class and no shower, no classroom air circulation, bonding in unimaginable funk, especially after kimchi stew lunch days. Now that’s rank.
What’s next? OK. I have an attainable goal, to be at Seogwipo’s World Cup Stadium’s jimjilbang by Saturday night and have Sunday as a rest day. Begin the second-half of the Olle courses on Monday toward the finish. Date Sept. 15, 2011
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