Friday, February 29, 2008

12 Kms :: 6 hours :: A hike via Mt. Geumjeongsan

During a chat in Stammtisch, George Suzuki told us about his hiking club and that they would be traveling to Busan for a hike on saturday. George had mentioned that he did hiking but I did not know how serious he and the club was about it. I agreed to
come immediately and told Anshuman about it and we planned to stay back in Busan after the hike, see around on sunday. So we were supposed to meet the group at 7 am near parking of Expo park. The morning started with excitement when the taxi driver dropped us at the wrong place and we had to sprint for around a kilometer and half. We did that in 10 mins but were still late. George was really angry at us about it..and we got a heavy duty warning about not to repeat it next time.

Once inside the bus, it was kind off ok but the kick start we had got for the day we knew it is not going to be easy. The President of the club Ah-To-San, started the proceedings. There were round of introductions for new comers, detailed explanation of the agenda and repetition of general rules. Everything was in Korean so I had to take help of George [who is Japanese and has been teaching Japanese in Korea since 4-5 years] and had to take his help for the translation. The plan was to start the trek around 10:30 and end by 4:30..have a small party before leaving and head back to Daejon. But me and Anshu had planned to stay back and see Busan on Sunday.

President's Welcome

In the bus George told me it was his 125th hike since November 2004 and he had rarely missed any since he started. Apparently the group hiked on every saturday without fail and maximum of 45 members could register every time on first come basis. Everyone was with proper gear but George said it would be fine as the day is going to be clear [not much of wind, rain or snow] so it won't be a much of problem if we did not have any.

We reached the starting point around 10:15...

..and after a short warmup and a group photo later everyone just rushed into it.. We were around 35 of us and me and Anshu were youngest of the lot and on our first long hike. But George was with us all the time and took really good care of us despite the fact that we had made him very angry 3 hours ago.

We were in the premises of Beomeosa Temple, a very famous tourist attraction in Busan. But we were not no tourists clocks..

We just rushed through there taking pictures of interesting works around us...

I had never seen this avatar of the Buddha, called the 'Warrior Buddha', who protected the entrance. There was a strong sense of irony there but I had no time to think about it...we were already behind in the group.

But there were more unseen avatars of the Buddha down he road...

There was a big trail beyond the premises of the temple and after some distance the temples created an amazing view amidst the rocky mountains.

And then slowly we were getting into the hiking mode as we followed a strong trail uphill.

The trail was becoming rockier..

..and as we climbed up the unmelted ice from past week's fall could be seen..

And as we climbed higher there was more and more ice..

Before we could notice we were making our way in the ice itself..

The peak of Mt.Geumjeongsan was in sight had been an hour since we started.

In around half an hour we were up the peak..though it was not as easy as it may sound..but could not take pictures while already finding the difficulty of climbing the steep rocks...but could not resist some of the beautiful views.

Conquest Geumjeongsan

After a quick round of clicks and celebrations we started the descent..
I was wondering it was in less that half the time the goal of the day was achieved..but conquering Mt.Geumjeongsan was apparently not the only goal of the day.

It was past noon and we took a quick lunch that we had brought with us packed.

After a 15-20 min break for the lunch we started again..

..and soon we were in the premises of Geumjeongsanseong, the fortress.

First was the North Gate of the fortress that we encountered on our way..

It was an amazing view of Busan downtown from the top..showed the expanse of the city and damn it was huge!

We had covered a long way in just an hour after lunch...

Short Term Goals & Long Term Goals

During the whole hike I came across many such points where I could clearly see where I am headed in a larger sense and the immediate next few steps explicitly. I wondered if we could visualise goals in our life in this would be a lot easier sometimes.

One thing newbies constantly do on treks is to see where we were and where we are going..a look back showed us how far we had come from Mt. Geumjeongsan...

..but there was still a long way to go..and our legs were now showing the effects of the exertion in the excursion.

The Great Wall of Korea

Built to defend from the Japanese forces attacking from the sea, we were told the wall could not defend Korea even once.

Pitstops for taking photographs was a good excuse to give the legs a break which were now starting to pain a lot.

We came across the East gate and then we headed towards the south gate.

My ankles and knees were now in pangs and I had still around an hour to walk!

..and suddenly I saw the road..was relieved that it has finally ended..

..but to my suffering that was not to be..we just crossed the road and continued the hike! the time was being very very slow...

We reached the South Gate finally..and during the quick break that we are a lot behind time and so would take the ropeway on our way down..phew! I was so relieved!

So after a brief walk to the tower, we bought tickets and awaited our turn..

The buildings that looked tiny from the top were now becoming huge skycrapers..

Finally we reached at the bottom..just 5 mins away from the bus! We had contemplated change of plans to return with the bus instead of staying back as we had planned in the morning.

But after relaxing for a while over a soup of kimchi, tofu & pork..we decided that we would stay as planned earlier..and deal with our legs after returning.

We bid the group good bye..with intention to join them again on some saturday!

The bus dropped us near a subway station from where we got down near Busan station and checked into a hotel for a break before exploring Busan.

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