Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hiking in Jirisan - Dullegil #3

Korea is blessed with many beautiful mountains. Among those mountains, Jirisan is known as the mountain to conquer if you're a serious mountaineer. The mountain is an enormous organism of hills and valleys, with fantastic views from all angles.

I had a go around Jirisan last winter; not proper mountain climbing, but just a simple hike. The Jirisan Dullegils (지리산 둘레길, "paths that follow the circumference of Jirisan") are mountain trails for simple hiking, where no extra hiking gear is needed. It's great for beginners.

There are four different trails to follow. Each trail takes several hours to track, from a 4 hour trail to an 8 hour trail. You can also just walk around a portion of each trail, as there are other paths that lead out to main roads along the way. The Dullegil trails are actually paths that lead to and from the villages on the mountain unlike the other "serious" remote mountain trails of Jirisan, so it's unlikely that you'd get lost.

The trail I took was Trail #3, the one that starts from the village of Maedong (매동마을).

Start this way! A sign introduces you to the village.
Helpful map shows where you would be going.

To the left is the mineral spring, to the right you will find several village houses for lodging.

The trail is marked with red arrows on posts. I took my Mini Kuma to accompany me.


The trail starts out flat and not too hilly.
Most Korean mountains are full with pine trees. I love their scent, all seasons of the year.

And then you have wild reeds blowing in the breeze.

A reservoir pond lies in the middle of empty rice paddies.
The paddies are set up on a series of ledges being on a slope.

I didn't, no, actually I couldn't take any photos on the hilly part of the trail.
The scenery was beautiful there;
we were completely enclosed in pines with bits of sky peeking through the branches.
However, I was too busy trying to catch up with the rest of the group, huffing and puffing.
I learned that severe lack of exercise will make a simple hike like this horribly difficult.

I caught my breath when the trail flattened out again and started taking photos.
My friend took a photo of me taking a photo.

This was the one I took.

Another view of the bleak empty rice paddies and the village in the valley.
This place would be beautiful in the summer and autumn, I think.

Took a self portrait in the circle road mirror alongside a field.

The sun was setting as we headed to the main road.
This old tree was simply breathtaking, the photo doesn't do it justice.

Jirisan National Park website (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)


Yelena Lim said...

Hi! Although I'm not a professional hiker too, I love hiking :) and I like your Mini Kuma^^ very cute!

seoulsuzy said...

Hey, there! Isn't hiking great? The only thing I don't like is the bugs in the summer. ;P

kushibo said...

I keep hearing how hard Chirisan is, but I think I've conquered more grueling in California. I'm not saying that as bragging rights, but offering that as an example of what I can do to see if I can jump into a Chirisan hike without too much preparation.

I run three miles a day about five days a week, so I should be okay, right? Right?

seoulsuzy said...

Kushibo - If you're fit and exercise regularly, I don't think you'll have a problem at all with the Dullegils, which are for hiking beginners, at least the 'hiking' in the Korean sense, but if you're thinking of actually climbing Jirisan, well, that's something different. It is a several days course with rocky and hilly terrains, acute temperature changes, and from what I've heard (I'm not even going to attempt such a thing as climbing Jirisan), it'll make a grown man cry. You know how Korean hikers always seem to be overdressed when hiking? Well, they say that you need every single piece of equipment available when you conquer Jirisan. ^^

kushibo said...

Thanks for the advice. I'm in pretty good shape. I run five kilometers a day, five to seven days a week, so I think I'm in pretty good shape.

Just two days ago (some days after I left my original comment) I did an eight-kilometer, "half-day" round trip from the rim of Haleakala Crater on Maui, which is at about 9500 feet (2800 meters or so) to one of the smaller craters below. It really wasn't much of a problem, and I probably could have done three times that with proper water and food.

It was freezing (with wind chill, literally), even though it's late May and it's Hawaii, but it wasn't a huge problem.

After seeing your comment about the Tullegil trails, I thought something like that might be okay if I'm with someone less experienced (or less willing) to hike it, but I looked up the length of some longer climbs to the top (see here) and I think I can handle that. It's 27 km up one path, along most of the high peaks, including Ch'ŏnwangbong, and down the other end.

I've done more strenuous — 35 km round-trip from 8000 ft to 14,500 ft at the top of Mt Whitney — but that was when I was a teenager. This is 3/4 the length, but much less elevation gain and not nearly the lofty height (which slows you down because you need more oxygen but it's so thin).

So I think I can handle it, but maybe I should plan it over two days at least.

Anyway, thanks for the inspiration. s

seoulsuzy said...

Kushibo - Holy kimchi, with those kind of credentials, just go for it!

seorin said...

Hi Suzy, i just came across your post. I'm going to do trail 3 soon too. As i'm a tourist, do you know how i can book the accomdation in Maedong village?