Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hiking through the clouds, swimming in the mud

Shortly after my return from Canada, I was invited to go on a hiking/beach trip exploring the famous "cloud bridge" in the southern part of the country (Mokpo area).  So, late at night on Friday, a group of people (both foreign and Korean) met up and hopped on a bus with Seoul Hiking Group that took us on a very long (well, for Korea it's long) bus ride overnight to Wolchulsan National Park. We arrived at 5am and started to get ready for our hike to the famous cloud bridge, and for those that were game enough, to the summit, to watch the sunrise.

Wolchulsan National Park

Hiking in the dark is always a little tricky, so I was glad to have brought my flashlight with me.  As we started to climb, it started to get lighter, and the rain started to fall.  This made hiking the large, now wet rocks that were our path a little bit slippery.  Being the bad hiker I am, I mostly stayed at the back of the group, taking lots of resting breaks.  Eventually, I caught up with the others as they ate a snack under a gazebo that's next to the cloud bridge.  I would say a good 2/3 of the group decided not to do the summit hike as it would take a good couple hours, and the weather was not being friendly.  Of course, I did check out the cloud bridge, that I had heard so much about people talk about.  Unfortunately, the clouds were a bit low to get what I'm sure would normally be a really fantastic view.  Maybe that's why they call it's "Cloud bridge"?

Wet hikers

Cloud bridge: true to its name!

Requisite jumping shot

The clouds did try to show us a nice view, if only for a few minutes!

As we hiked down the mountain, we were told that there was a really nice waterfall we would be able to see and possibly even take a swim.  I wore my bathing suit just in case.  That too, however, was not at its best that day, as they hadn't gotten much water in the area over the season (it has been particularly dry in Korea this year) and so wasn't flowing nearly as hard as it normally would be.  So my friend Melissa and I decided to continue to walk down the path while trying not to slip and fall on all the wet rocks and metal stairs we encountered.  I failed and fell once.

Crazy custom-made stairs

Waterfall along the way down

Once our group had all met up again and changed into drier clothes, headed to the town of Mokpo for lunch (seafood and floor sitting), to buy some supplies for the night (soju, naturally) and do a bit of sightseeing (or grab a quick nap for those that were so inclined).  We then went to the island of Jeungdo, which was our destination for the night.  As the tide was out, surrounding the island when we arrived was mud.  All 40 of us crammed into a really nice private pension for the night.  I made friends with others on the trip over a tasty BBQ dinner and a game of Mow.

The view outside the pension

I hope for this boat owner's sake, the water returns soon!

Home for the night.

Following our eccentric leader's morning wake up call, we went by bus to hang out for a few hours at the local beach.  Or at least, we tried to.  The roads the the area are terribly narrow, and our bus just couldn't turn on them.  The driver tried numerous times to turn left towards the beach, but he just couldn't make it.  So, we all had to get out and walk the 30 minutes or so to the beach.  I didn't really know what was going on when we got off the bus so I didn't have the sense to bring my towel, phone, money or sunscreen with me.  When we finally arrived at the beach, the tide was still out and was faced with more of this:

Beach: pre-water

You had to walk a bit far over the muddy ground to get to the water, but once you did, it was actually quite warm to swim around in.  But, without sunscreen, my pasty white skin was quickly turning a nasty shade of pink (soon to be red) so I headed for the shade of some beach umbrellas.  Luckily, one of the other girls had brought some money so that we could rent one to take refuge until the bus came.  Sitting there, chatting in the shade and watching the water creep towards us was quite nice.  Once the bus arrived, and I was able to gather my things, I layered up the sunscreen and went back in the water.  Next thing I knew, it was time to pack up and head back to Seoul.  Our weekend adventure was over.

**Note: many photos in this post are courtesy of Melissa**

No comments:

Post a Comment