Odaesan: Birobong Peak (16th Highest Peak in Korea)

I went hiking! Korea is one of the best countries to go hiking, everyone seems to do it here. People tend to get booted up, with full on expensive gear, walking poles and the likes. Sadly, a lot of them throw their kit out after the season is over, then restart again the next season. I went hiking with David and my friend Jake. We weren't kitted out but, we did walk past a few hikers who were head to toe in hiking gear. I don't know how they weren't melting! I was in shorts and a running vest, and it was way too hot.

So, we decided to hike up the easiest route, Birobong Peak. It's about 3 hour roundtrip (Almost 7km). Sounds easy? It was pretty steep with a bazillion stairs. It's great for beginners, as there are plenty of rest stops on the way. Birobong is the highest peak, at 1563m!
I drove to the National Park from Gangneung. It wasn't far, about an hour or so drive depending on traffic. The traffic was pretty bad on the expressway. It costs about 3,000won for each person and 2,000 for a small car to park. There are many places to park, depending on your intended route. We drove about 10km up the mountain to the start of the Birobong peak route. The drive to the car park was horrendous. The road was covered in pot holes.

From the carpark, Birobong peak is about 3.3km. The trek up is paved, with stone staircases to climb. Not too bad for a hike! My butt hurt after climbing the first set of stairs. I definitely need to get back into shape (not that I was ever in shape!).

Our first stop was Sangwonsa Temple.
It's a pretty little temple. There's a bit of a story with this temple which I won't go too much into. It was built by a Buddhist monk named Ja Jang. It was once burned down by a fire but restored again in 1947. 

At the top of the entrance is this monument. A nice welcome to the temple! 

We were lucky to see a monk praying. Usually, when I visit temples, the monks are doing their daily chores, or I don't see them at all. I would love to do a temple stay before I leave Korea. How great would it be to do a temple stay for a week or more? No cell phones, cut off from the world. 

There are many small waterfalls and streams as you hike to the peak! I tried practicing with a long exposure shot. But, I need more practice. Also, I didn't want to hike with my tripod. This was the best I could do. 

Most of the hike was like this! Stone steps, leading to the top. It was pretty nice on the ankles. 

The next pit stop was Sajaam temple. It was getting renovated but, you still got to see the beauty of the temple. 
The buildings are built in a tier-like structure. It adds to the beauty of the whole place and fits well with the surrounding nature.

On the way up to the next temple was a little drinking well. We were stopped by some hikers who told us to drink as we would regret it if we didn't. Apparently, the water from the well brings you luck! (Check out the video of the well at the bottom of the post). 

How pretty are these roofs? 

We hiked a bit more, maybe 0.5km or so and reached another temple. Jeokmyeolbogung. There were a series of steps. 

The temples were covered with these lanterns because Buddah's birthday is next month! 

We couldn't get up further. They closed rest of the trail until the middle of May! I hope to go back and hike right to the top. 
We set off back down, but decided to go a different route, back to Sangwonsa. The path was a little run down. No stone steps, just natural rocks and a railing which could fall down if you put too much pressure on it! 

Here's a video of my hike up. I'm getting into making videos, as well as taking photo's! It'll be great to look back on a live action video in a few years time! Give it a wee click, and please subscribe ^-^!

Happy hiking!



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