Friday, February 22, 2013

Hiking Mt Hallasan, Korea

So both me and Z bid goodbye to 2012 and said hello to 2013 in Korea. 
With 5 layers of clothing bracing the -20 degree cold plus the crazy wind chill. 
But it's all good cause it's our first time seeing snow! 

One of the crazy things we decided to do in Korea was to hike the highest mountain in South Korea, Mt Hallasan (1,950m). Seriously don't know what got into us when we slot Mt Halla into our itinerary. 

But no regrets, it was an awesome decision at the very end! 

We started hiking at 7.30am via Seongpanak trail.
It was pitch black and drizzling. Thankfully there were many hikers with us, which lifted our spirits a little.
On the flipside, 99% of the hikers were Korean who barely speak English so we couldn't really communicate in the end.

Most pictures were taken only with iPhone 4. It was too much hassle with the rain plus gloves to pull out the DSLR.
Self shot of us when we hiked around 8% of the mountain.
Forced smiles. Our boots and socks were soaked wet already, and our feet were numbed.
Rain + Hiking in snow is never a good combination eh?

The first shelter in sight! God we were so happy when we saw this shelter.
By this time the rain has subdued, so we packed our raincoats up and latch on our crampons.
We also brought hot brown rice green tea with us and happily sipped them to warm our bodies up.

Our cool crampons, which costs around RM100.
Best investment ever!
If it weren't for these crampons we would have fell a million times in the snow.

Reached Jindallaebat Shelter feeling so hungry cuz we only had two pieces of bread in the morning.
Happily slurped brimming hot instant noodles sold at the shelter.
Z even had second helpings and extra Snicker bars for booster to continue our journey.

Yay at least we have one nice shot for the album!

Iphone pictures do not justify how pretty the scenery was throughout the way.
Dead trees covered in white snow.
Snow everywhere, so serene.

Obligatory feet shot! (:
With our colorful crampons.

At 1,900m. At this point we were quite eager to finish it and get back for a good hot shower and food.
But nope, we had the toughest last 50m to go and another 10km journey down.

Every step after 1,900 m was crazy because of the strong wind. It was so strong it kinda blew me till I lost a little of my balance. Everyone had to cover their faces to protect their noses from falling off (haha, ok I kid, but my nose was pinkish red already).

And then we made it!!
Mind you, the wind was still blowing like mad, and the fog was so thick we had no pretty scenery to see (like the ones from google image). No crater view, all we see is white, white fog / snow everywhere. 

It was still cool though, to hike in snow. A totally different experience from hiking in summer. 
And it is still very surreal to me to see a bed of snow layering the ground, so pretty. 

After sipping whatever tea we have left (surprisingly it was still hot! super good idea to bring a hot flask), we made our way down. Fun thing about hiking in snow is that you get to slide down, which equates bigger steps and faster speed gliding down. 

The total journey up and down took us around 9 hours, including lunch break. 
Although it wasn't an easy breezy journey, it was an incredible unique experience. 

I will always remember how we hiked through 20km of snow with wet socks & boots. And how we supported each other throughout, mentally especially. So in the future, if  when we ever go through hard times, I will remember this journey, and remind myself that we can make it through. (: 

Our reward for the night! 
Glorious mouthwatering Jeju's famous black pork BBQ. 
Man, we cleared every piece of meat there was, even the condiments.