Fall Foliage at Mt. Dobongsan 도봉산
Yesterday, Alex, his friend James, and I went north to Dobongsan, eager to see the beautiful fall foliage. Apparently everyone in Seoul had the same idea, as the trails were PACKED (we should have known since the subway was full of older Koreans in full hiking gear, in an array of bright colors)! We wanted to do an easy hike, but a different one from the hike Alex and I did last October. The directions on the trail weren’t very helpful, and we soon found ourselves on a much harder hike (and we couldn’t figure out how to turn around). It was VERY INTENSE. I have NEVER been more scared in my life. Let’s just say that the gloves that Alex and I bought (a year ago at Dobongsan) were a lifesaver! And I’ve never done a split in my life, but I think I came pretty close a few times, clambering up and down vertical rock faces.
We had to traverse the Y-valley Dobongsan ridge line, named “Y” because of the fact that we had to climb WAY down and then WAY up before we reached Jaunbong peak, at 740 meters! I had read about the infamous Y-valley ridge, but the descriptions had scared me from making the hike last year. And so I wasn’t pleased to learn that we inadvertently took the path up to the ridge and there was no turning back…
The ridge has metal posts and a metal rope that were very useful climbing up the steep rock faces. They weren’t nearly as helpful on the way down (but I’m glad they were there!!) because there weren’t very many footholds and they were spaced very far apart (making it difficult for someone like me with shorter legs). By the end of the trek up to Jaunbong peak, I was elated to have finished, incredibly scared thinking back on what I had done, and I had snot running down my face. Lovely.
The peak was very crowded! There was a line to climb both up and then back down. We could see a pathway with many stairs… that was the detour we had been looking for (and what we took going down)!! We saw quite a few people climbing down the sheer rock faces with ropes and harnesses. What was even more amazing was that there were a few ladies who chose to scale sections of the Y-valley with nothing but their hands and feet. It was incredible to watch (and a little scary, at one point I had to turn away).
The fall foliage was very pretty (lots of oranges and reds). It was unfortunate that it was foggy (or hazy) so we couldn’t see very far. We did see Bukhansan in the distance (Dobongsan is part of Bukhansan National Park)- apparently that hike takes the entire day!
By the time we arrived at the base, it had taken us a total of six hours (four going up, two going down). We were very sore and tired (can you imagine how we feel today?! Answer: I think I need some aspirin!) and vowed that we would never hike that particular trail again. Once was enough!