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The best: Geomun Oreum is Jeju's red-hot volcanic cone[Jeju's Trails] Day 42 of a 1,200 km journey recording Jeju's hiking trails, oreum (volcanic cones) and Olle courses
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승인 2011.10.31  10:58:37
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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 34 sites in sequential order for Day 42: Venture Maru, The Jeju Weekly office - Syemi Oreum, base - Syemi Oreum, peak 1 - Syemi Oreum, peak 2 - Syemi Oreum, base - Geomun Oreum, Visitor Center - Geomun Oreum, trail start - Geomun Oreum, first observation tower, Geomun Al Oreum - Geomun Oreum, Seonheul Cave - Geomun Oreum, Dragon Peak No. 9 - Geomun Oreum, Dragon Peak No. 8 - Geomun Oreum, Dragon Peak No. 7 - Geomun Oreum, Dragon Peak No. 6 - Geomun Oreum, Dragon Peak No. 5 - Geomun Oreum, Dragon Peak No. 4 - Geomun Oreum, Dragon Peak No. 3 - Geomun Oreum, Dragon Peak No. 2 - Geomun Oreum, Dragon Peak No. 1 (summit) - Geomun Oreum, Visitor Center - Buso Oreum, parking - Buso Oreum, peak - Buso Oreum, base 1 - Buso Oreum, base 2 - Budae Oreum, base 1 - Budae Oreum, peak - Budae Oreum, base 2 - Buso Oreum, parking - Buk Oreum, base 1 - Buk Oreum, peak - Buk Oreum, base 2 - Albamaegi Oreum, base - Albamaegi Oreum, peak - Albamaegi Oreum, base - Venture Maru, The Jeju Weekly office


View The Jeju Weekly's Hike Jeju 2011 in a larger map
Spent
mart -- 10,200
gas for scooter -- 5,000
gas for scooter -- 4,000
PC room -- 10,000
jimjilbang -- 1,000
Total -- 30,200 won
(Note: Rest and research day, total -- 18,500 won)

Consumed
a lot of hard tack, a little peanut butter, 1 donut, 355ml Chilsung Cider, 4 small cold coffees, endless amounts of water

Thoughts from Day 42
On the main roads, on the back roads. Tomorrow, after reaching my 75th oreum, I will list the entire first set in my report, Writing the word “first” implies there will be a second batch of 75 volcanic cones traversed before Hike Jeju ends. I have an addiction for the road, which is temporarily taking a backseat to Jeju’s trails. All daylight hours consumed today and six oreum were recorded, a low number, but not considering Geomun Oreum takes at least 10 kilometers to finish with its nine dragon peaks I wish were individual oreum, while being forcefully guided for a long and slow initial part of the trail.

Oreum ramblings.
One of the many things Jeju natives (and other Koreans, too) love to tell foreigners is the island has 368 oreum. Seemingly, that is as far as the conversation progresses. It usually ends there because of the other’s lack of experience and/or English language ability level cannot take the person any further. Aside from a good trivia question, I would like to write, that number is irrelevant. Pointless. It does not reflect the quality of oreum, how many are accessible to the public, the great expanse between the great ones and the simple ones, the ruined ones, the developed ones, the national park ones, the hidden ones. I spent an entire day, trying to figure out which oreum I have legitimately climbed, and the ones that are possible to climb in the next few weeks. Concerning ownership of oreum, there is government (49.14 percent), private (33.91), both (11.75), foundation (3.00) and other (2.20). And even that does not tell a person whether it is OK to climb. Neither does the best topographic island map, the best Korean Web site devoted to oreum since 1999 nor the best databased oreum list. In addition, many oreum have countless names and duplicate names at that. All three of the best sources do not agree. Asking advice only yields bits of information and putting that together, sometimes conflicts. I find, really, many Jeju people have almost no knowledge to share about oreum at all. Sorting the oreum to climb is an entire scavenger hunt. On-site inspection is best. I was denied at about 10 today. The actual number of oreum able to be walked is probably about 150; the number of impressive hikeable oreum is much, much less. Perhaps 50. And even that is debatable since the number of natives who have been to 50 or more oreum and are able to talk about them, I do not even want to consider a depressing, lowball figure.

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Geomun Oreum, Part 1: The best. This is it. Twenty reasons why this is the best oreum on Jeju: clean informative visitor center; limit of 300 people per day, strictly enforced on a reservation basis; most of the course is wood boarded with little extra impact on the actual oreum; no litter at all, none; the Jeju World Natural Heritage Center is currently being constructed near the site; there’s no chain stores or eyesores in the town; specific UNESCO designation; Seonheul vertical lava tube (the deepest cave on the island with a depth of 35 meters) is here (with a chained fence); volcanic bombs (lumps of lava thrown into the air) present with labeled signs; one of the workers at the visitor center gave me a 140-page revised paperback edition (June 2011) of Geomun Oreum in English; nine dragon peaks outline the outside surrounding trail; one of the docents did not put up with the ornery old Korean man (see below); parking is off-site; this is the starting point for all caves that flow northward (think Manjang Cave); the adjoining Yongan-gil 5-km trail is off limits more than 10 months of the year (So I could not get to it, only during parts of July and August is this open.); bathrooms are throne and toilet paper is provided; there’s a Clean House between the trail start and the visitor center; all workers (at least five) were courtesy even though I do not speak Korean and they do not speak English; multitude of colorful varying language signs (Escucha Naturaleza!); this is Geomun Oreum, enough said.

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Geomun Oreum, Part 2: Settle down now! From the visitor center all the way until where the interior of the trail terminates, a guide takes a group of people and talks all in Korean. It took about two hours. Not more than 15 minutes in, one of those older Korean men, with no facial expression, but expressing so much emotion, blew up at the female guide because he wanted to go on ahead with his family. He started screaming for a long, long, long, long time. What a scene! Loved it. I intently looked at the others. I swear two women wanted to curse at the man vehemently. Another man, not affiliated, started singing some sappy song (I believe making fun of the elder.), and the grumpy one then stormed back off the trail. A few seconds later, I heard two 30-something-year-old women, high-pitching - indicating direct relation - yell “Oppa! Oppa!” (“Elder brother!”) and maybe five others cleared out. A group of eight gone, just like that. In my mind I felt similar. Perhaps, because no one can claim me as “Oppa!” and run after me, I can suffer life’s pains much easier. I completely disagree with the guide rule. So every foreigner has to experience a two-hour nature lecture all in Korean at a UNESCO site? Please.

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Geomun Oreum, Part 3: Book review. I wish I had time to read the book, mentioned above, before writing this. Skimming it thoroughly several times, it is impressive. Planned and directed by The Halla Ilbo’s Kang Man Saeng, it seems at least 20 people had their hands on this project. This is one of the handful of English books written by Koreans about Jeju that should be read by all foreigners living on Jeju to better understand where they (temporarily) live or are traveling to.

Syemi Oreum. Geomun Oreum’s warm-up early in the morning. I do not recommend this oreum. It is rare I would do this, but since it is right next to a noisy road 97 coming out of Jeju City, and it’s a steep, eroded footpath the entire half loop, take a pass. It probably takes 30 minutes in total. The views at top are OK, much better elsewhere. According to the sign, at 126 meters in overall height, a horseshoe shaped crater opening to the southwest, “there is a spring named [syemi-so] at the foot of the oreum from which the name of this oreum originated.” There was an old couple who were impressed I was on the trail. A younger man waited in the car for a long time and at the end, they all argued about the rock sign for awhile as I sat on my scooter and claw hammered peanut butter from a jar with my fingers.

Buso Oreum. Across from Geomun Oreum on road 97, and down a dirt, horse pasture road, I only stopped because of the fading but visible Jeju sign. Terrible I know, and a bit hypocritical as well, but I ended up just bushwhacking to the top. I said some bad words halfway up and almost descended. I reasoned that a government sign would produce a trail somewhere. At the top, I found a trail. And went over every part of it, having to repeat half the steps. The only way to find the start of either is noticing a very tiny white ribbon hanging in the tree. No English and absolutely no improvements on the trail visible. A bit of trash, strange, considering I could not imagine who comes here.

Budae Oreum. What I thought of as the parking space for Buso Oreum also doubled for Budae. This has decent wide stairs and white rope. It does the same thing as Buso, it goes to the top, and to the other side in a relative line, so doubling back is necessary. The only thing of note (again, no English signage), there are two caves visible, one on each side of the trail, about halfway up. The trail widens and veers to the side. Impossible to miss. As with Buso, very few views at any vantage point. Both take about one hour to complete.

Buk Oreum. Out of Songdang, heading on road 1136 toward Jeju City, the oreum sign and trail start is right off the road. Again, no English. Before I even thought twice, I was at the peak. No views. This trail does a triangle and cuts northwest to a second base. Once off, a person can wrap around the base back to the starting point. Some eulalia here was over my head and thick to the point, the trail was not seen, just pushed forward by hiking boots. Very short hike, 20 or so minutes.

Albamaegi Oreum. The sign reads this oreum looks like a chestnut, hence the name “bamaeji” in Jeju dialect. And “Al” means lower, so it is lesser in height than the other similarly named oreum, Utmaegi. A great ride up. I hit this in near darkness, being rather unimpressed with the previous three. Had to end on a high note. With 154 meters in rise, no real trail, ropes help a person maintain footing mostly coming down. Once at top, stellar views and a small shelter for the fire watcher during the dry season. The crater on this oreum, at the northwest slope, was formed “not by volcanic eruption but by corrosive action,” according to the sign. A nice finish.

Date

Oct. 29, 2011

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

Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Photo by Steve Oberhauser
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