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Gunsan and Dansan are a southwestern dual delight[Jeju's Trails] Day 49 of a 1,200 km journey recording Jeju's hiking trails, oreum (volcanic cones) and Olle courses
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승인 2011.11.07  10:51:28
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▲ 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 25 sites in sequential order for Day 49: Venture Maru, The Jeju Weekly office - Gunsan, base 1 - Gunsan, reference point - Gunsan, trail crossroads - Gunsan, peak 1 - Gunsan, peak 2 - Gunsan, peak 3 - Gunsan, base 2 - Gunsan, base 1 - Sseokeundari Oreum, base - Sseokeundari Oreum, peak - Sseokeundari Oreum, base - Dansan, base - Dansan, cave - Dansan, peak - Dansan, base - Gama Oreum, base 1 - Gama Oreum, peak 1 - Gama Oreum, peak 2 - Gama Oreum, base 2 - Gama Oreum, base 1 - Gasi Oreum, base - Gasi Oreum, peak - Gasi Oreum, base - Jeju Springflower Guesthouse

View The Jeju Weekly's Hike Jeju 2011 in a larger map
GS-25 -- 3,600
sauna -- 5,000
gas for scooter -- 4,000
Hong Mart -- 5,980
Hong Mart -- 1,200
Total -- 19,780 won

a lot of hard tack, a little peanut butter, 1 donut, tofu soup dinner with Korean snacks, many tangerines, ample amounts of soju and orange juice and an additional hard liquor mixture, 2 sandwiches, 1 cold coffee, endless amounts of water

Thoughts from Day 49
This day... I went down to southwestern Jeju to witness the beauty of Andeok Valley and its surroundings. I’ll admit, it was a rough and tiring start to the day. Writing and research consume me. I left a PC room at 9 a.m., then slept on a wooden bench in a sauna’s locker room for an hour or two, and off I went to see five oreum on Saturday. Obviously the highlight is in the title, Gunsan and Dansan. For the first time in a long time, I am not a transient jimjilbang goer. I spent the night at a familiar place, the Jeju Springflower Guesthouse in Daejeong. My clothes, stored in my donated scooter’s storage spot are completely clean. In addition, a few questions were answered. Just like that, good advice yields 10 oreum I need to visit in the next few days. I am ready.

Gunsan. It is grandiose. Large. Positively overarching. The magnitude of Gunsan and its trails are all there. I knew this was going to be big, but it truly is another mountain. It took me a lot of time to find an entrance to a hiking trail. Finally, on a narrow rise in Andeok Valley, there was a wood sign. I could read in Korean what I wanted. The simple width of the trails is the widest I have seen to date on the island. Passing by a drinking water spring and then various peaks, this is the best space on southwestern Jeju for a view of the surrounding area. Various historical Japanese tunnels are interpreted in Korean. No English at all. Many people are here, most likely because there are trails offshooting at various places. I saw no map how to interpret the trails. I lost my way on a few and doubled back. All told, this is an entirely different hiking experience. One not to miss.

Back at Hwasun Beach for Sseokeundari Oreum. That’s right, the rise to the west of the beach is actually an oreum. And, happy for me, to have found it. Great timing. I need to mix the great oreum with the bunnies and take a break once in awhile. Sseokeundari is about a five-minute walk to its peak and offers an alternative, yet necessary, view of Hwasun Beach.

Dansan, Part 1: The explanation. At last, I have some English to reference. Dansan, according to the Chusa Trails sign, states: “The mountain is also called Bagumji Oreum because its shape conjures up a huge bat spreading its wings. The shape of Mt. Dan was considered ominous in terms of feng shui. So, in attempt to protect their village from any evil spirits, people built four Bangsa towers around the village. A Bangsa tower, believed to ward off evil spirits, was built of stone, and in a cylinder shape with a statue of [a] human face on its top.”

Dansan, Part 2: The trail. The trail is relatively free from worry. Roundtrip it is about two kilometers. Very abruptly, it took a side route to an old Japanese created cave, and after it balloons to the finish for great views of the sea. The stone landscape is unique, here, unlike other Jeju natural structures. According to the same Chusa sign, as above, “Some say [Chusa’s] calligraphy was inspired by the bizarre landscape of Mt. Dan. It is somewhat convincing because he often appreciated the mountain view.”

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

Gama Oreum and the Peace Museum. I first started at the temple and walked around some farm fields. I hopped on a stone fence and walked up. Eventually, it reached the top with the watchtower. The oreum, according to the sign, is “shaped like an upside down iron pot, which in Jeju dialect is Game.” The largest man-made Japanese tunnel is here and can be seen when visiting the on-site Peace Museum. And for more information, check out this past Jeju Weekly story.

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Gasi Oreum. OK, this is the last, last bushwhacking experience I will have on Jeju. I said it before, but this is it. I did, however, discover a cave near the top under all the dense brush. On the descent, I undershot the base. I went into a farmer’s field and had to drop down into a pool of knee-high water to escape the inclined wrath of thorns and get back on level ground. Already filthy, knee-deep farm water was not going to change anything.

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser

Who are the watchers? As stated before, at several strategic oreum, there are little heavy-duty plastic huts where a person is stationed, with radios and equipment. My best guess is they are fire watchers, for the adjacent land and farmers’ fields. Whatever their purpose, they have helped me immensely on numerous occasions with vital map information. Some are manned, most are not. I just happened to hit upon a rather fruitful stretch the last few days where there was a lot of activity in those areas. Usually an old man is in the booth, via a scooter at the trail’s base. Boring is the one word I could use to describe their situation. Are they local contract workers? Who are the watchers?

Hot peanut butter. I’ve noticed when I place my plastic peanut butter jar on the front side of the scooter’s storage space, it gets a bit of warmth, assuming a liquid form, and its viscosity is great. I am able to extract it that much easier without fully coating my fingers.

The countdown is on. I have six more hiking days remaining.

Nov. 5, 2011

▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
▲ Photo by Steve Oberhauser
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