One of the first days in Seoul, I decided to go hiking at Suraksan. Hiking is very popular in Korea, and it can get really crowded on the trails on the mountains around Seoul, but Suraksan is known to be less busy, and compared to the other mountains, not a lot of people go hiking at Suraksan.
I took the metro to Danggogae and walked through the village surrounding the station. I stocked up on snacks (dried squid) and a drink (something with peach) for my hike, before heading for the local police department, which is loacted close to where the trail starts. I asked one of the officers if I were on the right track for Suraksan, and he nodded and told me that the trail was just around the corner.
The first stretch was not even part of the actual trail, and more of a residential road, but it was so steep, I was about to give up, before I had even started my hike. Then I passed two temples and the road turned into a real hiking trail. On my way up, I was overtaken by an old guy with Korean pop music blasting from his phone. He smiled and greeted me, as he flew by, and it did not take more than a couple of minutes, until he was out of sight, and I was left feeling old and tired.
The signage along the path was not very good, and I took a lot of wrong turns. I think I met four other people at different points on my way up, and they all told me that the peak was about 20 minutes away, but it turned out to be much longer (and none of the people I met spoke English, which might explain the optimistic time estimates).
I had read about a restaurant near the peak, so I did not bring more snacks and drinks because I thought I could have lunch at the restaurant. Though it turned out that the restaurant was closed, and I really regretted, that I did not bring more dried squid and peach drinks, as I ran out of supplies long before I reached the peak.
At the top, there was another hiker, who offered to take a photo of me, and afterwards, I returned the favor. He spoke a little English, so I asked him which way was the shortest way down the mountain, and he pointed to the path, he had come from, which ran along the other side of the mountain. I thanked him, and after a short break at the summit, I decided to try the route that the guy had taken.
However, it turned out to be a really bad idea, because that trail was a lot more challenging than the path I had taken on my way up, and I had to crawl on my hands and feet several times, and really be careful not to slip and fall. At several points, the trail split in two, and I was unsure which path to take, so I called my friend Peter in Denmark, and had him ask his Korean colleagues for the best route, based on the screenshot I sent him of my GoogleMaps location.
I did not meet any other hikers on my way down, and as it started getting dark, it also got a bit scary in a Blair Witch kind of way, so I was breathing a sigh of relief, when I stepped out of the woods and back into civilization, just before sunset. Note to self: Hiking on your own is not a good idea.
The trail down the mountain ended close to Jangam Station, where I celebrated the day’s hardships with apple juice from a mini market, before heading back to Seoul.
Watch the video from my Suraksan hike here: