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Part 2 of the Hike Jeju project begins with an extensive uphill trek toward Seongpanak[Jeju's Trails] Day 29 of a 1,200 km journey recording Jeju's hiking trails, oreum (volcanic cones) and Olle courses
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승인 2011.10.19  19:25:52
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▲ Photos by Steve Oberhauser

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The Journey
These are the top six sites in sequential order for Day 29: Venture Maru, The Jeju Weekly office - road 1131, turnoff for road 1117 - road 1131, Cheju Country Club entrance - road 1131, natural habitat of cherry trees monument - road 1131, Jejudo horses monument - Seongpanak course, base

View The Jeju Weekly's Hike Jeju 2011 in a larger map


Family Mart -- 6,600
Total -- 6,600 won
(Note: Six preceding rest and write days, total -- 163,530 won)

1.5 liters Pocari Sweat, 2 sandwiches, a lot of hard tack, 1 Vitamin C tablet, endless amounts of water

Thoughts from Day 29
Off again and one undesirable sign (Part 1). Here we go… After six days of hiking inactivity and a lot of writing, I left City Hall’s Venture Maru (now renamed Jeju TechnoPark), which houses The Jeju Weekly office, at about 2 a.m. This was after three overworked coworkers and I were unwinding on the back patio of a nearby convenience store. My destination was south on road 1131 to the base of Seongpanak’s course inside Hallasan National Park. Little did I know that walk was going to take me 12 hours and two hard naps to complete. Around 4 a.m., I looked at a road sign and it read 17 kilometers to my destination. I immediately found the closest picnic table off the road, and went down for the count because I firmly knew those kms were all uphill and steep for me in my present condition. Seongpanak is not the highest altitude a motorized vehicle can reach on Jeju Island, but it feels that way. I arrived at the base after 2 p.m., apparently seeking more punishment as I wanted to start the course to the top of Mt. Halla. I tried three different times and techniques and was turned back on each one by the same national park worker (because all ascent times at any point on the route close at 12:30 p.m.). On Jeju, these are the only three rejections (of many) I have experienced that I now think of as positive.

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Last note on Olle. There was one important point I forgot to mention about Olle. The last two days on Chujado, there were five newbie staff members working for the Korea International School, who did most of that island’s course. These were the only foreigners in 30 days duration I saw or heard about using the Olle trails. More importantly, so motivated, some were interested in their students doing trail maintenance on the Olle courses close to their place of employment. They are still waiting for a response from Olle.

Defining the next step. Hike Jeju’s Part 2 is all on foot, again, starting and ending in Jeju City. This time, the deadline is 11 days to cover Hallasan’s five main courses, one mountain base hike, two national recreation forests (Seogwipo and Jeolmul) and, if time allows, Sangumburi Crater and Geomunoreum. The last portion, Part 3, will be roughly three weeks to go on an oreum binge (35 were climbed during the Olle portion) with aid of a scooter to get from one parasitic volcano’s start to another. I am still trying to identify any other hiking courses that exist on the island that are worthwhile and properly labeled for an English-speaking foreigner to complete.

Biggest fear. I have mentioned one concern before. At night, I would say the biggest fear is getting rolled, meaning to get robbed or mugged while sleeping. This would seem not a problem, since Jeju is billed as being “so safe,” I probably outweigh most Koreans, and I think on appearance most people would say I am not a soft target. Pishaw to those arguments. I won’t go into detail, but the night before at an unnamed jimjilbang in the city, I was awoken at about 5 a.m., after a young male slipped my locker key off my right wrist; I woke up to see this man directly over me; after three seconds of regaining cognizance the four-level winding pursuit over wood floors began as I rudely woke up most of the 50 to 75 sleeping male and female patrons, primally screaming the entire way. It ended one hour later with two on-duty (and one off-duty) police officers sorting out the situation and an early alarm clock sound for more than just me.

Natural habitat of cherry trees. On road 1131, this place is worth a visit. It’s hard to miss if whizzing by in a car. From the sign, it states on April 15, 1908, a French priest serving in a Seogwipo church certified via specimen samples at Berlin University, that the island is a natural habitat for cherry trees. With red flowers and white petals, “since the cherry tree is not only hard and dense, but also very colorful, the wood was used to make high quality furniture. Thus, the cherry trees with thick and good trunks, were usually cut down. In Yonggang-dong, the main trunk was also cut down and the present tree has grown from offshoots.”

Jejudo horses. If you have ridden on road 1131 toward Jeju City or Seogwipo, this is probably the most “famous” place. Numerous cars are pulled off the side of the road and cameras are capturing images of the short, stocky horses. … Read the full scoop on the origin of these quadrupeds in this newly published Jeju Weekly article “Are Jeju’s horses of Mongolian descent?” by Susan Shain.

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Two runners. While panting up road 1131, I noticed two separate runners (one an older foreigner) at two different times start a workout as they appeared from some random point and were moving faster than walking speed in front of my view. Not for me. How long did they last?

Seongpanak’s base and a sleeping bag (Part 2). Finally, this was the first time on the hike I had some hours to read as I was grounded at Seongpanak, until darkness fell. When it did, I got into my four-season sleeping bag (previously ditched and switched out the beach towel) at the side of the common area on a raised wood platform with no roof and snoozed. I awoke about midnight and heard, what I presumed to be an older Korean couple talking. I think they pulled off the road to use the restroom facilities. I had heard enough and thought they were too close. With a few harsh, low guttural animalistic noises in their direction, they were soon back in their car and on their way. Perhaps karmically, the rain soon came and I relocated under the main market’s eave.

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Korean hiking fashion. The current Korean fashion for Olle trekkers and Mt. Halla hikers is different. The latter is more pronounced, including bigger backpacks to walk a distance totalling not more than 18.3 kilometers (the longest possible non-repeating, one-day hike), and most times half the distance or much less. Although somewhat universal, the prevalence on these points of accessories I have seen during the last three years, visiting the national park’s trails (and several on the mainland), at least 100 different times, are excessively displayed and peculiar to Koreans. Aside from the coordinating Cray-Pas resembling colors on the shirts, pants, shoes, and backpacks, they include, bandannas, socks pulled way above and over the bottom pants leg, blatant grunting, gloves (better if they correspond to a hue on the outfit), the small metallic cup for coffee clanging from the backpack, the boomboxing of trot music by elders and garrulous pop music blaring by the youth. Not to forget, for snacks, the all-important gimbap, fruit (tangerines, pears and/or apples), hard-boiled eggs and occasional ddeok (rice cake). Beverages are scattered. Coffee is a must. And, dare I leave out the stick...

Pondering the walking stick. The walking stick is a conversational topic I have had with many English-speaking Koreans. They have presented their theories to me. They ask me why I don’t use one. Never have, I usually respond. For the stick, maybe whatever trend is current, people must follow. Soon after Oh Eun Sun was purportedly climbing her 14th of the 8,000-meter peaks, the first woman to do so, a fellow Korean hiker told me he found no reason for the stick, rather it was all marketing and business related. If everyone has a stick, he said of his fellow citizens, well then everyone else must go out and buy one, right now. It is also a part of being labeled a hiker. Therefore, if a person looks like a hiker in Korea, they are a hiker, regardless of how many times those shiny new (and expensive) shoes are used, if ever, on a trail.


Oct. 12, 2011

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
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