Friday, December 13, 2013

13 Dec 2013 -10C Dobongsan

It is possible to start the hike empty handed. Everything can be bought at the mountain base before you do the real hike.

Shops aplenty for all your hiking and non hiking needs.

For the longest time, we heard about how the Koreans are fanatic about their mountain trekking in all seasons. This was excuse enough to check out  the passionate  pasttime of the Seoulites. 

Seoul is surrounded by mountains , of which most can be reached by  subway and other public transport. Our first ever trekking experience was Dobongsan, a favorite starting point for most urban trekkers.

We left Studio41st at 8.45am and reached Dobongsan station at 10.45am. The lag was mainly due to delays at transit.

We inaugurated our little adventure with 2 purchases: a furry Deuter hat ( 29500 won ) in a sports shop and 2 freshly made giant gimbap ( 4000 won ). All these and more can be had , midway between the subway station and ranger's office, barely 200m either way.

Fresh snow in Dobong

For the most part near the base, it was easy except the possibility of bears. We did not see any.

Temple within an easy walk not far from the ranger's station.

Clear skies after the snow is good news for hikers.

Pavilions and temples along the track serves as markers.

Compacted snow is tough to walk on without crampons.

Snowscape in South Korea is an unforgettable  scene.
 It may be Friday but throngs were heading for the mountain just like us. The route  to the entrance of the national park was flanked by sports shops selling all kinds of trekking needs. The park ranger assessed us and declared us ‘unfit’ for trekking because we did not have crampons to handle the heavy snow and steep slope.  We were given a map and instructed to do a simple walk for beginner trekkers where we could still see many temples along the way.   Hub’s plans to see the famous temple with the stone statues went up in smoke.

Gimbap lunch in the mountains comes with chopsticks!

The route we took was fairly wide and gently sloped. Even so, at times it was not easy getting a grip on the snow and because compact snow  was slippery without crampons. By 12.30pm, judging by the little we have seen, we knew we were quite lost.  We had walked in circles and soon gave up. At a rest point, we munched on cold gimbap, sitting beside a vending machine right smack in the national park !

Evening comes early at 3pm

Was that a bird ?

Lots of charm with rocks smothered with snow.

We needed to be nimble footed because the steps were packed with snow, compacted by the hundreds who came before us by mid morning.

Just in case we got lost, which we did.

Compounds of a temple.

Temple with lots of character. Paint were mostly not original.

Brr, it is cold up there!

A river freezes over

Lovely snowscape in the Dobongsan
One of the amazing thing was the lack of litter in the mountains. The trekkers ate and took their trash back. No cleaners, no bins. Kudos to the Koreans for their civic consciousness!

Litter free mountain despite the throngs

It looks the same everywhere and one is prone to be lost.

Near a private temple.

Post hiking shopping, for the next day.

We got our crampons here.

There is always time for snacks after the hike.
We were down by 3pm. By then, most trekkers were done with their walk and most were heading off to the station. Shops were packing up and for the few that were still opened, we did ‘market research’.

I had enjoyed the walk immensely and felt the need to enhance our experience of our coming 2nd trek. At a road side store, we bought our crampons ( 30000won x 2 ). Hubs was very surprised at my enthusiasm because not too long ago, I was still hobbling around with troubled knees!

Famous Dobong tobu is as what it claims to be - delicious !

Never leave Dobongsan without trying their tofu/tobu

Post hike afternoon meal. Every item was out of the world delicious.
Namdaemun again, this time at night. Post hike city shopping.

From Dobongsan enroute home, we stopped by Namdaemun, where we stocked up on 2 packs of ginseng tea bags ( 20 000 won ), ginseng candy ( 25 000 won ), 2 snail cream and 1 foundation pact ( 58000 win ) and a notebook at Alpha ( 800 won ).

Pumpkin pizza with honey

Keeping the pizza warm until the end of the meal

Innovative pizza place at Hongdae uses bubble wrap on walls for privacy and keeping out the cold

We unloaded ourselves at Studio41st of our goods. At Hongdae’s Lunarish, we had our first non Korean food – skinny pumpkin gorgonzola pizza dipped with honey ( 14000 won ). The meal was innovative and ambience good.

Next up, our adventure at the other side of Dobongsan, Mangwolsa.

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