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Saryeoni Forest is the pinnacle of a three-day stretch[Jeju's Trails] Days 34, 35, and 36 of a 1,200 km journey recording Jeju's hiking trails, oreum (volcanic cones) and Olle courses
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승인 2011.10.24  11:41:51
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▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

For a complete list of Steve's Hike Jeju articles please click here and as always you can send your feedback to Steve and The Weekly on our Facebook page.

The Journey
These are the top six sites in sequential order for Day 34: Sanlok Bridge - road 1115, reference point, temple entrance, bridge - junction, roads 1115 and 1131 - road 1131, reference point - road 1131, reference point - Seongpanak course, base

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PC room -- 8,000
sauna -- 4,000
roadside stand -- 5,900
PC room -- 5,000
King Mart -- 9,900
taxi (Seogwipo to Sol Oreum) -- 5,500
roadside stand -- 6,500
Total -- 44,800 won

20 odeng on a stick, 2 red bean paste pastries (bungeoppang), a lot of hard tack, a little peanut butter, 1 small soda, 3 small hot coffees, endless amounts of water

Thoughts from Day 34
“I’ve been walking the streets tonight.” There are a few problems with walking on the main roads of Jeju, both in the daylight and darkness. After savoring the day’s 20th odeng on a stick at a roadside stand in a parking lot just west of Sol Oreum, I set off to walk on road 1115 at 7 p.m., before it joins with 1131 (the 5-16 Road) and then ascend said route that connects Jeju City to Seogwipo to at least Seongpanak, the road’s peak. Why I decided to walk at night on an unlit, main Jeju thoroughfare is a fair question. I thought it would be safer with fewer cars on the road. As road 1131 twists and turns every which way, it was constant crossing the road to walk on the side where there was the most space and allowing the cars either behind or in front to have enough preparation after being shocked of seeing a bearded male foreigner on the side, and, if so obliged, generously giving me a little bit of extra courtesy space. Also, I was so tired after yesterday’s Donnaeko trek and an all-night PC room writing session, I found a sauna and slept from about 6 a.m., to noon. I do question how many times those blankets are washed in the sleeping areas. It’s typical males enter, naked by the way, and sleep on a thin pad, and cover up with a blanket, while lying the head on a block of wood, a rice-filled pillow, or small cushion.

Psychological barrier. The fifth and last major different ascent hiking Hallasan National Park was heading up to Seongpanak. After completing that at midnight and sleeping in the same spot as five days before, I knew anything was possible. Surviving the night road walk was adrenalin-fueling enough. A few kilometers shy of Seongpanak (on the Seogwipo side), a driver encounters the 1.2-km stretch of the “Sup Tunnel,” an incredible canopied forest area. For a walker, it’s treacherous, because there is no space on either side of the road. When a car approaches, one must hop up on a curb, and correctly timed, be close enough to a chest-high reflector and hang on for dear life, lest facing a meter or two fall down in a ditch. The few bicyclists I’ve seen on that road are either truly brave, or stupid. This night, I felt I was the latter for walking this stretch in darkness.

NASCAR anyone? While walking this night, I challenged and reaffirmed all my previous beliefs of adventurously driving an ATV (for about 1 year) and a scooter (for about 2 years), all told, approximately 30,000 kms on Jeju’s roads. Driving is dangerous. Period. Walking on roads that are not designated as pedestrian friendly is more dangerous. The following few ideas were from another writer and I’ve heard it from other people, as well. It is possible, in Korea, Jeju could be considered the most dangerous place to drive because of the ratio of rental cars not knowing where they are going. Couple that with people growing up in rural areas on the island never having experience driving on a highway and that’s a recipe for disaster. Consider the other factors: I’ve talked to cabbies, in broken English, going on near their 24th consecutive hour before taking a rest; rare, if any, (on visual inspection) enforcement by proper authorities for moving traffic violations; the hurry, hurry culture. Mix these ideas all together and, wow, my advice is to not walk on a Jeju road, that does not have a designated side area.

Oct. 18, 2011

Day 35: The Journey
These are the top 12 sites in sequential order for Day 35: Seongpanak course, base - junction, roads 1131 and 1112 - Saryeoni Forest, entrance / exit - Saryeoni Forest, 2-kilometer marker - Saryeoni Forest, 4-kilometer marker - Saryeoni Forest, Mulchat Oreum, base - Saryeoni Forest, junction with (closed) Seongpanak course - Saryeoni Forest, junction with Saryeoni Oreum course - Saryeoni Forest, southern terminus with (closed) Saryeoni Oreum course - Saryeoni Forest, 9-kilometer marker - Saryeoni Forest, Bulgeun Oreum, base - Saryeoni Forest, Bulgeun Oreum, peak

Total -- 0 won

a lot of hard tack, a little peanut butter, 1 coffee, endless amounts of water

Thoughts from Day 35

Saryeoni Forest. What a place! I believe there are no road signs for either entrance and exit. Currently there are about 15 or 16 kilometers of hiking opportunities available, 10 of which can be walked without retracing from a few kilometers east of where road 1131 and 1112 meet, to the end where the trail deposits a hiker on road 1118, about five kilometers south of junction 1112, where Mini Mini Land is prominently located. Of course, the route could be walked backward, but it seems almost everyone parks in the first place mentioned, turns around at some point and returns to their cars. The course is relatively flat and varies between concrete and a soft, groomed red pathway. In the middle is a closed Mulchat Oreum; at the end is an open Bulgeun Oreum. There are heavy volumes of trees and many varieties, stands of pines and cedars are most pronounced. The path crosses many dry creek beds and has ample amounts of benches and rest areas. All trash is pack it in, pack it out. There was a guide at the small booth, who provided me with an English pamphlet to the area.

“We invite you to ... the woodland path with scads of life and peace.” That is the pull-out quote on the English brochure. It also highlights eco-healing, reading “a compound of ecology and healing, means for people to recover healing power in nature to enjoy a mentally and physically healthy life.” If it were all that simple, after grinding endless hours at work and home to spend a few hours a month in a forest and every person is healed. Promoting a bit of a stretch. Forget the peace, love and happiness. I find the embellishment and this idea of natural healing, and the advertised “rock bath” or “forest bathing” a bit strange, since the area could just bill itself as it is: Jeju’s best forest experience.

Eclectic mix: Saryeoni Forest is for everyone. Literally, I saw the usual decked-out, walking stick carrying Korean hikers, young tykes, couples where the man wears the baby sling on front, some big, big backpacks (What possibly can be in there for an almost flat 10-km hike?), and a sultry high-heeled, knee-high boot wearing Fifth Avenue fashion display. The trails are a different story. There are three current restrictions. At about the five-kilometer mark, there is an offshoot trail leading to Seongpanak that is closed, Mulchat Oreum is off-limits, and approximately three kms south of the trail (at 6.5-km mark) leading to Saryeoni Oreum is chained up.

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Two oreums: First is Mulchat Oreum. The sign says: “It looks like a castle with water in it, which in Jeju dialect is ‘Jat.’ … There is a funnel-shaped crater lake at the top, which is one of very few crater lakes. The circumference of the crater is 1,000 meters.” Second is Bulgeun Oreum. I gambled and needed a sleeping spot. My choices were either at the end of the Saryeoni Forest, or to find any wood structure or bench at the peak of Bulgeun. Luckily, after a 30-minute, narrow and high-rising ascent, there was a wooded observatory with great views and enough elevation to keep the night pests away. The path is circular near the top. A perfect end to a day’s flawless display of nature.

Oct. 19, 2011

Day 36: The Journey
These are the top eight sites in sequential order for Day 36: Saryeoni Forest, Bulgeun Oreum, peak - Saryeoni Forest, 1118 entrance / exit - road 1118, Samdasoo entrance - Mini Mini Land, junction, roads 1118 and 1112 - Saryeoni Forest, 1112 entrance / exit - junction, roads 1131 and 1112 - Halla Eco-Forest - Venture Maru, The Jeju Weekly office

roadside stand -- 7,000
PC room -- 2,800
Total -- 9,800 won


a lot of hard tack, a little peanut butter, 2 gimbaps, 1 corn on the cob, 340ml lemon lime Gatorade, endless amounts of water

Thoughts from Day 36
Broken zipper and strap. I woke up at the peak of Bulgeun Oreum’s wooden observation platform and within 15 minutes of sunrise discovered my bag’s zipper was beyond repair and my shoulder strap was done for. The lyrics “seen much better days” entered my head. Time to wrap that main bag up in plastic, seal it, and carry her while trudging back to Jeju City. With Hallasan’s courses all complete, I made an executive decision Part 2 was successfully finishing today. After about seven hours on the roads, I felt in need, indeed, of a shower and a shave. The beard (and hence the majority of the Korean stares toward me) were going away, this fine day.

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Part 3. With all of Olle complete (Part 1) and Hallasan trails, plus extras (Part 2), I have climbed about 50 oreum (additional research is necessary on a few for what and where is actually considered an oreum on my official list). The last stretch, Part 3, is to get to as many oreum as possible for about three straight weeks. And for this part, I have the use of a donated scooter to get me to every road crevice Jeju offers to find the start of those volcanic cones.

Revisiting an old bet. Many personal questions have been asked to me about why I am doing this. I probably can rattle off at least 10 reasons. Near the bottom of the list is settling my oldest bet with a best friend. It was made many years ago. If I could sustain a certain weight level (not seen since at least age 17 and for a small stretch in year 20) and keep myself below that limit, said person would quit smoking. Well, K, upon reading this, you just smoked your last cigarette. After 45 days, I’ve shaved off more than 10 kilograms, which translates to 23-plus pounds gone. There’s more (or less) coming.


Oct. 20, 2011

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

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