In our world, the desire to see and be “one” with the natural world ever increases. As we get more and more lost in our over-crowded, over-scheduled, artificial, often pointlessly busied, city-inducted lives we long for peace. The need to get away and come back to nature (earth’s reality) is strong. So, here is a place where you can sit down, breathe the fresh mountain air, let go of the “nonsense”, rest and realign with nature's rhythm.
Mount Seorak is the third highest peak in S. Korea (5600 feet) and is a part of the 300-mile long Taebaek Mountain range running along S. Korea’s east coast. According to locals, Mt. Seorak is actually one the world’s largest single slabs of granite. Indeed, geologists classify the entire Taebaek range itself as Jurassic granite.
Seoraksan National Park is just 15 miles Southwest of the port city of Sokcho so, there are plenty of hotels to choose from if you plan to stay a few days; http://www.asiahotels.com/hl/Sokcho-South_Korea.asp. In addition, there are also many resorts, hotels and even hostels right in the Seaoraksan National Park-http://www.frommers.com/destinations/seoraksannationalpark/4026_indacc.htm
Entering the park- starting point for a climb to the top of Mt. Seorak
The entrance to the park is marked the statue of a great Brown Bear, forever proudly guarding the park entrance from his great pedestal. Walking past the statue, is a souvenir shop and past that begins the path to the exciting climb to the top of Mt. Seorak. Many volunteers work in the park and serve as guides to the visitors intending to summit the mountain. On a typical day hundreds of people gather at the base of Mt. Seorak. A safety briefing is conducted followed by the beginning of the ascent. The visitors are informed that there are 888 challenging steps carved into the mountain that must be overcome in order to summit Mt. Seorak.
Following the path
At first the path is very flat, the mountain obscure in the distance through thick trees and morning fog, so much so that one begins to wonder where the mountain is in the first place. A few hundred yards later, an outside food court come into site. On a side path, many little restaurants display dishes that they prepare for the visitors. Most of the tourists walk past barely glancing the busy restaurant workers, they are eager to make the climb. (On the way back, the visitors are starving and do pay a lot of attention to these restaurants!) And so they continue on, the path still flat, until they reach a huge surprise. In a clearing a mountainous sized sculpture of Buddha sits at the base of a great Korean temple. The mountain sized Buddha sits in front of a rocky mountain outcrop giving visitors perspective insight into its amazing size.
Past the Buddha
Now the path begins to take on a gentle slope that steadily increases over the next quarter mile where upon which, one’s line of vision is decidedly sharply upward. Gigantic boulders, that had become displaced by gravity, litter the path; they had been shaped by wind and water over eons of time. The visitors pretend to move the massive boulders, grinning with strain in front of cameras whose pictures forever capture unlikely human ability.
Up the stairs
The visitors are getting up in altitude now. The vegetation has changed. Only a few specialized trees remain at this altitude whose strong roots are capable of burrowing into and retrieving nutrients from the granite. Here the path is mostly a red colored metal stairway with steep steps drilled into the rock. Hundreds of visitors begin to strain against gravity, fighting their way up the stairs. Segments of stairway of stairway are abbreviated with small rocky paths leading to the next stairwell. The view has become one of majestic mountains surrounding hundreds of seemingly tiny people scrambling about on a mountain.
Just as the look of exhaustion begins to become plastered on the faces of the climbers, the summit looms close. In the end it's just one last stairwell to endure. Here the visitors hobble their weary feet over the last groups of steps and then through a rocky archway to find the summit. They’ve made it, and proud they are to pose for the camera, (as instructed by the guides who remain working on the summit all day) with arms up along with the look of sweet success. The summit is a sloping semi- flattened area on which a souvenir shop has been set up and run by guides. A true blow to the ego is to find people at the summit of Mt. Seorak who climb it every day just to get to work! And this is just when you thought you did something special. In a moment you may forget that though, because the spectacular site of the beautiful world below can only leave you with the feeling of appreciation. In the distance the city of Sokcho can be seen and behind that, the blue waters of the Sea of Japan.
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Enjoy your trip!