First trek in Seoul, my 59th trek overall. Bukhansan is the closest mountain from Seoul, and it is so close that I can see the Baegundae peak which is at 836m right from where I live in Gangnam. I get to look at it every day just before I enter the Sinsa subway station (line 3). With each passing day, the temptation to climb it kept rising, and finally, that perfect Sunday came.
On 9th September, I took the first subway train at about 5.40am towards the Gupabal station. Accompanying me is Sachin Govind, who is a colleague at K-Startup grand challenge. The journey took us 30 minutes and we were at the bus stop waiting for the 704 bus as mentioned by Rodrigo in his OutofComfort blog post. The bus never came, instead we followed a crowd who were holding trekking poles. I assumed they are heading to Bukhansan as well. My assumption played out well as the bus number 34 chugged right near Bukhansan park. As a reference, you can board bus 704, 34 and 8774 to get you into the trailhead.
It was a pleasant weather, a little chilly I would add. The actual trail head is around 300-400m away from the bus stop and en-route you have horde of shops selling you hiking gear both cheap ones and the top end ones. The Korean national park service has an exhaustive information on the trails available and I chose the Bukhansanseong route which starts at South west side of the park.
The pathway till the Information center is quite well paved with a light to moderate steepness and en-route you can cross Daeseomun, the Great West Gate, one of the 16 gates around Bukhansan. The information center is were the paved route ends and true hiking experience begins with a steep climb on stone stairs alongside a stream.
The hiking route has railings and is elderly friendly in fact, I saw a lot of senior citizens climbing alongside me. There is a rest area midway the climb with benches, AED and fire extinguisher though it does not offer much of a view. Most of the trail is covered by medium thick canopy and till we were at the last 100m there was not any glimpse of the city. The last 150m was quite steep and for safety and convenience, stairs have been built. This is in stark contrast to the Himalayan mountains.
Post the final ranger post the wooden starts starts getting replaced by starts cut into the smooth rocks and the railings are basically cable wires bolted into the rocks. It is quite slippery without proper shoes and I was unluckily wearing my running shoes which was not up to this job. I relied on the cables to climb up. The crowd was getting more thicker as the hikers from alternative routes joined and were basking the sun's warmth on the rocks. I finally reached the Baegundae peak, the view was quite astounding, Domino like city last vast around me. Just next to Baegundae lies Mount Insubong, a smooth granite dome along which numerous mountaineering enthusiast were practicing their rock climbing skills.
I exited through the Baekwoon information center on the Eastern side and took the subway back to Seoul. Overall it took me around 4 and half hours to climb and around 2 to exit.
Till next time, Ciao.