Monday, 28 October 2013

Our Weekend: Hunting for Moon Bears on Jirisan

I'm giving myself a congratulatory pat on the back as we speak! I managed to get up the highest mountain in Korea, and back down again without tears or seriously hurting myself! Hurray!

The trip started out not so great. We just stepped through the door of Nick's apartment late on Friday night when I realised I'd left my trainers at mine, across the other side of the city. It took me about 50 minutes to get home on the metro, just to pick them up. I was trying not to see it as a bad omen as i crawled into bed after 12, with the alarm set for 4:45am. Ouch.

After arriving at the village next to the mountain and sorting out the hotel we got started a little later than we had planned, so by the end of the hike it looked like we were going to be wandering around the mountainside in darkness, but with a couple of minutes to spare we found the path down to the main gate which was well lit! My main worry was the 'Beware of the bear' signs that were dotted around the mountain, and the information provided in Korean on what to do in the event of a bear attack. From the diagrams I guessed that we shouldn't hit the bear with sticks, but I wasn't so sure about the rest!

The views from the top were amazing, every way we looked there were rolling mountains peeping out from the clouds, we even managed to make a few friends on the way. Autumn really has arrived at Jirisan so the leaves were amazing colours. It was so pretty. A drunk, retired CEO (It's funny how many people claim to be CEOs in Korea) took a liking to us and took our picture when we were half way up the mountain. He then traded numbers with Nick and tried to send us the photo. He was swaying this way and that, to the point I realised I should be ahead of him incase he fell and take us all out like pins. He ended up sending us a picture of the floor, but it was a pretty floor covered in lots of red and orange leaves.

I always find the way down the hardest, we've reached our goal and the excitement's gone. Plus you really have to watch your footing and I bust my knee playing roller derby a long time ago, and my knee likes to remind me of this when I'm on my way down. Boo!

Unlike Seoraksan, we took lots of food and snacks and enjoyed a lunch at the top of sushi rolls and sugary coffee. We accidentally queue jumped at the very peak, as lots of Koreans waited to get their photo taken with the stone at the highest point, so rather than infuriate everyone by pushing in, or wait our turn, we had a photo from the back of the stone! I think we get top marks for fashionable hiking attire, what do you think?

We finished our hike and went down for some well deserved food and makeolli and fell asleep watching Ratatouille, it was the perfect day!

Jang San Ri Hotel

Beware of the bears

Bear Friends

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Oreo Face

Oreo Face

Jirisan Mountain

Jirisan Mountain

Mountain Top Lunch

Queue Jumping at the top of Jirisan

Dead Trees at the top of Jirisan

Rock Piles on Jirisan

Rock Piles on Jirisan

Finished just before it got dark

Post Mountain Food

Extreme Ball Games
Our Hotel// Beware of the moon bear signs// Ranger Nick// Autumn Leaves//Bridge Troll//
Jirisan Spring// Oreo faces// Half way up the mountain glee// Rock piles//
Lunch at the top// Victors!// Dead Mountain Top trees// Rocks and more rocks//
Arriving back in the dusk// Feast// Waiting for the bus shenanigans

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