Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mt. Gwanak- "My First Trek in Seoul...!"

"Chu Suk" also known as 'Thanksgiving day' (simply means a very big day) a great festival when Koreans take this time to thank their ancestors for providing them with rice and fruits. For foreigners like us too it’s a 'Thanksgiving' day to think of enjoyable short trips and excursions. Truly for me this time, it was a plan of certainty to spend the very uncommon long holidays by exploring Seoul. As it’s a passionate thing for Koreans to hike on weekends, one of our Korean colleagues suggested this ‘Mt. Gwanak’ as our tour destination when our Indian colleague approached him for best choice. Our beloved friends collected all required details about our resort for next day. Very surprisingly there in 'Somerset Palace' Ms. Song, a Korean girl who is friend of one of our colleagues enthusiastically joined us. We a crew of Six took Subway line No.2 to Seoul University as Ms. Song suggested us to hike ‘Mt. Gwanak’ from Seoul University entrance trail. It was pouring still when we arrived at the mouth of the trail. Detailed descriptions and features of the mountain are inscribed on the Stone at the entrance. Koreans call it as 'Gwanaksan' as 'san' means Mountain and 'Gwanak' means "Hat shaped Peak' (courtesy: Wikipedia) which is some 629m height. A pleasant breezy drizzles just wiped our faces gently when we got down there, it would really oscillate one's mind and heart to feel and realize the beauty of nature-Breezing, Raining and you are standing in front of Soul stealing grey clouds and Panoramic view of the Green Mountain. And in fact the Rain gave the green blankets greener. Yes! When Mother Nature is in full glory showing her beauty, poor human is having nothing than to soak and immerse on it.

The thick grey clouds till the limit of our visibility confirmed us about the down pour to be continued. We started our hiking on perfectly concreted pavement of mild slope; of course, it is much wider than to a pavement. Enormous, huge clusters of various dense trees on both the sides of the Pavement welcome the hikers with gentle wind blow. One would be enchanted by glassy, marble stream over a flat plain bed on the left side of the trail which showcases its silent and methodical way of flowing. Surprisingly throughout our hiking journey haven't witnessed any birds and animals (even monkeys which is a very common part of Hills and Mountains In India) except a plump 'Korean Magpie', Ms. Song said us that Koreans call it as 'Gachi'. For next just 10-15 minutes of hiking interior, it got as dark as evening due to densely populated giant trees and rolling thick clouds. But the ‘Gwanak’ assured us the never lost enthusiasms with its green skin.

There are many brooks branching and falling fast but steadily abiding gravity on either side of the trail. These small, streams are greatly channeled and streamlined in to a dedicated path which reminded me again about Koreans immense love on preserving nature. There are small huts and Wooden seats to relax, rest and refresh oneself on either side of the trail where hikers were enjoying their lighter moments. One can enjoy mixed hiking floors like concrete pavements, Wooden steps, flat cum slant plains and path covered of small rocks on the hiking way.

Ms. Song said us that at the top of this peak lies a Buddha temple, and translated us the distance we crossed and yet to cross by reading sign boards and instruction placards alongside of our path as all are written in Korean. There are some wooden bridges artistically made in a spectacular design to make the hikers enjoying their moments on either sides of the trail. For those who are fond of arresting the splendid scenic views of flowing Brooks, Valleys and thick grown Trees and Bushes will definitely have a feeling of delicious feast to their camera. And it was drizzling throughout the day; many a times, I used to shut my umbrella, and let the breezy fragrant drizzles do their magic on me. It was a splendid feeling and I was fascinated. It would be a different feeling for foreigners like me on seeing the way the Koreans came all along with their preparations for trekking with all stuffs like professional hikers irrespective of their level of expertise; after all, I contemplate it's a bit of part of life for them. ‘Mt. Gwanak’ is having some peaks which are challenging for people like me who are actually beginners. As far as preparations for a trekking trip is concerned, Good trekking shoes, if not, at least walking shoes with moderate grip, Backpack for keeping stuffs like Towel, Eatables, Sunglasses, Tissue papers, bags (to keep soiled wastes) etc. will be sufficient for those who are beginners as some peaks of ‘Mt. Gwanak’ are not so steep. If you are going to explore much challenging hike, it will be good to have ropes, good quality hand cloves, and strong hiking sticks with you which will solve the purpose effectively in ‘Gwanak’.

As it was my first time and I was having my bag full of Water/Juice bottles and other food stuffs too, I got to take regular rests all along the way.
Lesson Learnt: "Start to trek with very essential things on your back pack to really enjoy and fulfill the purpose". I (others too) was much perspired due to down pour and high humid conditions and consumed significant amount of water.

Through out the journey we were mutually exchanging wishes and greetings with many hikers crossing us either way. Smiling and Greeting the fellow hikers, just met a very second ago, reminding and intensifing my thought about Korean’s great receiving nature and their hospitality. As the crew got tired (seemed except Ms. Song and Mr. Ram) before it reaches the highest point of the peak where the enshrined temple of Buddha is, decided to stop there unanimously, where as per Ms. Song we were just short of 15 minutes of further upward hiking to reach the temple. On the way returning back we completed our lunch with other Korean trekkers in a rest hut which made the journey immortal. The return journey was very quick indeed. There the exciting hiking journey came to an end which concerned me voluminously when we reached the mouth of trail.

Koreans are conscious very much when they make or build the necessary arrangements to attract crowd around the world to enhance their Tourism without collapsing nature's innate wealth. They preserve and safe guard this nature by keeping these invaluable natural resources intact for generations ahead.

The success of any trip lies in its effect in enhancing the thirst of the traveler to explore more. With that spirit I think ‘My first Trek’ is quite successful as I am now eagerly waiting for my weekends to explore other parts of Seoul. Nowadays I start overlooking from skyscrapers in that perspective and realized the famous Korean saying “You will see a mountain in Seoul no matter where you look” is literally a fact. I reached my room at around 6-00 pm heavily loaded with magical memories, realities of gorgeous nature. I firmed to pen my experience of first hiking on my blog before it gets eluded by my Professional life.
(Courtesy-Photos: Stalin, Prem)


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  2. Thanks for your comments.Appreciations fuel me to write more.