Arriving at the entrance of the Seongpanak trail the temperature was quite nice to be early November and entering the trail, autumn colours where showing off everywhere. It was early morning so still quiet with a few other hikers in front of us and some Crows flying above our heads. It was almost a magical atmosphere with the trees still covered in mist from the morning rain.
In Norway we have a saying, there is no bad weather just bad clothing. So we were well prepared for a day of rain as weather forecast for the day was heavy rain. But the weather gods were on our side so the heavy rain ended up being a nice and sunny day.
The trail started with light uphill, winding its way through the forest. The first 4 km until we passed the Sokbat shelter, was quite pleasant and easy hiking.
From Sokbat shelter to Jindallaebat shelter the trail started to be more challenging due to the heavy rain the day before. So the next kilometres climbing uphill on wet rocks our focus was to keep a nice pace and put our feet in the right place to not slip on the wet rocks.
We had to pass the Jindallaebat shelter before noon to be able to continue to the summit. If you arrive after this time you will not be able to continue as they want to make sure people have time to get back down before the sun goes down. This timing changes depending on the seasons so good to check up front.
After a short rest at Jindallaebat shelter we continued uphill were we changed from walking in terrain of thick forest to enter out to more open landscape as we were getting above the tree limit. At this point we could see the summit at a distance. It looked so close but with a steep uphill it was the hardest part of the trek. The trail changed from slippery rocks to man made wooden stairs with a quite crowded trail at this point. Some going up and some coming down.
About 4.5 hours later, with backpacks much lighter due to a few stops along the way to fuel our body to get some energy, we were standing at the top of Mt Hallasan, South Korea’s tallest mountain with an altitude of 1950m above sea level.
The summit is known to spend most of the days surrounded by clouds and today was one of those days with only a few openings here and there.
The size and depth of the Baengnokdam crater lake varies according to the season and at this time it was almost dry. Baengnokdam means white deer lake. Its from the legend attributing the name of the lake to otherworldly men who descend from heaven to play with the white deer.
It was crowded at the summit and people were queuing up to take photos next to the stone with inscriptions in Korean. The wind was strong at the top so after taking in the view we found a place sheltered from the wind to enjoy our lunch and hot chocolate. We needed a good rest before our return down again.
Hallasan mountain have different trail and two of them are going to the summit. The Seongpanak trail that we went and the Gwaneumsa Trail that we were planning to return down from. Due to blockage of the Gwaneumsa Trail we had to return down the same trail as we came from. The Gwaneumsa trail supposed to be more strenuous with fantastic sceneries.
On our way down we stopped again at the Jindallaebat shelter for a rest as we were struggling on our way down to put our feet at the right place on the slippery rocks. So with one of us having problem with the knees we decided it was better to take it slow.
Back inside the forest the mist was quite thick so with water drops falling from the trees it almost felt like it was raining.
Happy to have made it back to the car park our plan was to find a bus to take us back to the resort, but when a free taxi turned in to the car park we change our decision and returned by taxi. Tired and hungry we were looking forward to getting back to the hotel.
Well back at the hotel, showered and sitting in the restaurant with a good meal and some wine, looking back at the day and the hike, we were thinking, it was tough, but we loved it.
Getting to the entrance of the trail you can take the bus, drive or take a taxi.
There are five hiking trails on Hallasan. They are:
- Gwaneumsa Trail – 8.7 km
- Eorimok Trail – 4.7 km
- Seongpanak Trail – 9.6 km
- Yeongsil Trail – 3.7 km
- Donnaeko Trail – 9.1 km
Only the Gwaneumsa and Seongpanak trails lead to the summit.
We hiked Mt. Hallasan November 2015