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 11 sites in sequential order for Day 11: Namwon Harbor, Olle Course No. 4 finish / Olle Course No. 5 start - Keuneong Trail, point 1, Olle reference point - Keuneong Trail, point 2, Olle reference point - Seongwangsa (temple) - Olle reference point - Camellia Community - Wimi Harbor - Neopbile - Gongcheonpo Black Sand Beach - Yechonmang - Soesokkak, Olle Course No. 5 finish / Olle Course No. 6 start
View The Jeju Weekly's Hike Jeju 2011 in a larger map. Please use Chrome or Firefox. Spent PC room -- 11,000 Namwon sauna -- 4,500 GS 25 -- 7,000 store -- 2,000 market -- 4,500 King Mart -- 4,700 Total -- 33,700 won
Consumed 3 liters Pocari Sweat, 1.5 liters Mountain Blast Powerade, 500 ml G2 Gatorade, 2 cans small coffee, fried hard tack, 1 can mackerel (godeungeo), 5 bananas, 3 apples, 3 oranges, 1 Vitamin C tablet, endless amounts of water Thoughts from Day 11 Course No. 5? It’s a yawner. Luckily, manna rains down on Course No. 6 through Seogwipo. … I found so little of note about No. 5, a struggle ensued to get anything of positive substance out. The route is a continuation of No. 4’s pavement walking until the homestretch. There are so many renditions for the idea of “You’ve got to go through hell before you get to heaven,” Olle Course Nos. 4 and 5 are hell; No. 6 is heaven. What lies even further ahead I have no idea. It has to get better.
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
Olle is perfect. For Koreans. I am still debating what worth it has for foreign (international) people. When I am completely finished with this thru-hike I will have an answer. There are millions of Koreans on the mainland, squished in apartments, next to molded apartment buildings of the same make, model, and color (but different number) that should be out of their cubicle spaces and on these trails. There’s an endless supply of Korean consumers for Olle. Many firsts are here for them to experience, such as waterfalls, beaches, stars, crops, trees and loneliness. Start Korean Olle clubs about conservation, preservation, and clean-an-Olle-course day. Teach kids to clean a beach and not to litter.
Olle is young. Having started in 2007, it should constantly expand its Korean mainland market, from within, not without. Olle and internationalism may be a bit too early. Realistically, that could take four or five decades to achieve, possibly when English becomes a legitimate second language in the nation.
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
Are there detractors? Having passed many crop fields mainly through Course Nos. 2 through 5, I can only imagine there to be sticky fingers when those tangerines are ripe and hanging off the tree like a succulent, moist snack. Dare I mention where the watermelon fields are. How much crop loss can be attributed to Olle hikers? I would like to think there are farmers who have caught culprits in the act and despise the trekkers. Also, there’s so few spots to deposit garbage along the trail, some property owners must be fed up with their land and roads being used as a trash receptacle.
Tampered signs. The painted arrows point one way, the ribbons go another. I’ve wasted hours so far, trying to guess which way to go, and then backtrack, mildly cursing at a wrong decision. My guess is that’s intentional by the people living around those signs. I’ve seen a few painted blue signs that have been whited out, and new ones painted in an opposite direction, or clearly, an uprooted directional wooden sign replanted in the opposite direction.
Back to Trail No. 5. It starts with Keuneong Trail out of Namwon Port and covers 1.5 kilometers. According to the sign, it is the “best seashore walking path.” Hmmm.
Camellia Plant Community. About 6.5 kilometers along this course, this spot appears. Hyeon Byeongchoon (1858-1933) was wed at age 17 and moved to this village. … The better of the two signs states: “She saved money from seaweed collecting and other odd jobs and bought the wasteland where she sowed camellia seeds she picked from Mt. Halla in order to protect it from heavy rain and strong winds. Her commitment turned the wasteland into fertile ground with a thick forest.”
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
Soesokkak. The finishing point of Course No. 5. It cannot come soon enough. Where freshwater meets the sea in the form of an estuary. This a popular tourist spot. Well kept and managed. A wooden boardwalk runs the entire length, restaurants are across the street, man-powered boats are available for rent, and people can ride on a taewoo. It’s all here. My sleeping spot, too. The benches beachside are some of the most comfortable I’ve encountered on the route. Also, this was probably the most naturally clean beach area I’ve seen along the way. Yet, … Aghh, how many times did I have to hear different Korean passersby say, in some form, “Look at the (dirty and poor) foreigner on the bench?” Some (most) things never change. The annoyance level of “Look at the foreigner!” is reaching its upper limits.
Turning point. This was it. Day 11 was the first day my shoes, socks and feet were able to stay dry. Thus, my blistered rubbing skin stopped becoming more revealing, red, and raw. Further, my gait turned from a gimp to only a mild limp. Now, I know I can walk all of Jeju. And, excitement is just around Soesokkak’s corner. Date Sept. 16, 2011
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