Saturday, December 14, 2013

14 Dec 2013 -14C Mangwolsa

Nondescript Mangwolsa station
 It was a bitterly cold but clear day. We headed out to Mangwolsa, taking the same subway line as the day before.

Muddy road to Mangwolsa base, a long , ugly trek at best

Towards the base, after going across the belly of a highway

There but not yet there
Mangwolsa station is just a station after Dobongsan and named after the famous temple in the mountains. It is not often mentioned in blogs probably because it was not as accessible.

The 2km walk to the base and nothing yet of Mangwolsa-san
The general atmosphere at Mangwolsa station was not as intense as that at Dobongsan, judging from the significantly fewer trekkers originating from that station. There was hardly any shops or restaurants. A dirty track to the mountains ran under a huge expressway, where construction was ongoing. We had to avoid trucks and wade on muddy slush to get to the starting point.

Quite an unhelpful map of the surrounds.

As viewd from the ranger's office, a tiny one man operation.

Mr G did not get his crampons because there was none his size. He was quite moody having to hitch a ride on our backpack.

First time owners of crampons. Minus the colorful hiking clothes, we looked quite legit as hikers.

Mean looking crampons, ready to attack Mangwolsa
 The starting point to Mangwolsa was a far cry from Dobongsan. Just a little hut greeted us, with a staff only to hand out maps. We put on our crampons like everyone else, the very act itself very empowering! 2 of us were an odd pair because we had down jackets for windproof jackets and woolen sweaters instead of fleece line goretex wear.

Despite the crampons, we were quite overwhelmed by the steps.

Rare break from the more than thousand steps.

Mangwolsa famous denizen, a Everest conqueror.

Steps were all we did, for more than an hour.

The climb up Mangwolsa did not come with a preamble of gentle slopes. The 1.7km trek up was not walk  in the park and unlike that in Dobongsan. It was snow covered stone steps after stone steps from the word Go! Hubs stopped every now and then because I was struggling up the narrow steps, having to give way to impatient old men who chatted on their way up , making child’s play of the trek.

The climb took the wind off me. I was heaving and steaming in and out, barely able to contain my breath and legs backling at times. It was totally unexpected!

Are we there yet? No

First vista, barely mid way.

Lonely snowscape. Mangwolsa is not a favorite starting point for hikers, thus the quiet.

Are we there yet ? No !

Some more stonesteps to overcome
 For 1.5 hours, I was in that state, with no option of turning back. Trekkers after trekkers overtook me. I did not want to blow what I set out to do. Furthermore, it would have disappointed hubs who was hoping to see some sights at Mangwolsa.

Are we there yet ? YES !!

The last steps to Mangwolsa was the most painful.

The last few flights were the most painful and hubs had to coax me up to complete them. Mangwolsa temple was as the name implied, perched high above the peaks before it, offering a sweeping vista of the valley.  At that instance, I could understand the sense of accomplishment of mountaineers whose hobby became an addiction. While I stood there to ooh and aah my head off, hubs captured the snow capped peaks and serene surroundings. It had begun to snow and the sky has turned grey but the magnificence of the moment was not lost.

Temple compounds.

You can invite yourself in for meditation. We lunched at the steps in -14C.

The only temple after 2 hours.
On the sheltered veranda of the temple, we had our  2nd gimbap for the 2nd day. -14C cold was eating into my bones despite the thick layer of clothing. After every possible shot could be shot, we made our way back down.

Beside of steep slopes!

The going down is tough too!

This sign is not helping us much.

View from the park ranger's office. I recommend it as an end point of hikes
Going down has its own set of challenges. While climbing up the steep steps was strenuous on the thighs , going down posed a challenge on the knees. My eyes were trained on the steps and I hardly lifted them to enjoy the scenery. The crampons did not seem enough and it would have been helpful to have a pair of hiking sticks for balance.

It took us 1 hour down to the base, where we proudly took off our crampons to declare the challenge over.

Fast food chain with fantastic spread of cakes.
Rewarding ourselves for a job well done! 
The deserted town has frosted over and snowed under the time we were up. We celebrated our climb with 2 coffees and cakes ( 11600 won ) at Paris Baguette, where I had the most incredible sweet potato cheese cake.

We made a trip to Yongsan to check out the stores, something we had intended to do on day 1 had it not been for the flight delay. Imagine to our shock to find Yongsan Terminal Mall emptied out. It looked like a deserted war zone with only a functioning lift to the bridge linking it to the train station. We walked around I’Park , dazzled by the million and one cameras on sale but was not impressed.

Post Mangwolsa nourishment
Back at Hongik U, we joined the Saturday human crush at Exit 9. Hongdae was inexorably crowded. Every dining options meant a 15 minute wait. We did an encore at Saemuel Sikdang for hub’s bulgolgi fix ( 23000 won ). It was to be expected because of the amount of energy expended for the climb.

I celebrated the successful climb in my own way. At Hongdae, I bought a fleece blouse (5000 won ), cosmetic pact ( 19500 won ) and 2 donuts ( 3000 won ), not bad to end the day with.

Next up, Sunday worship at Myeongdong and a romp about downtown Seoul.

No comments:

Post a Comment