Apr 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm #1272208
I've accepted a job there not too far from Suwon in northwestern Korea. I'll have a few weeks vacation, plus all national holidays and hope to squeeze in a couple trips at least. Also wondering what gear to bring/conditions to expect.Apr 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm #1724325
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
The weather can be just about anything there, including the sound of distant artillery fire. It would be a good idea to stay away from all of the military areas completely.
–B.G.–Apr 13, 2011 at 9:13 pm #1724328
I've so far been eyeballing the national parks in the NE part of the country–also where the trout streams are. I've heard some of the best streams for Manchurian Trout also have a lot of land mines, and some people get blown to bits every year.Apr 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm #1724368
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Most of the large areas of land mines were laid right at the end of the Korean War and over the following few years. I arrived there 17 years after the end of the war, and the mine fields were so old then that the reliability of the mines was poor, at best. I can still remember watching a guy kicking at a piece of something sticking out of the ground, and then we realized that it was one very rusty land mine. Keep in mind that land mines never move up a hill, but sometimes they move down due to erosion. So, we were more likely to find something unexpected at the bottom of a valley below someplace that had been a defensive position back when.
Yes, the parks in the northeast sound like the better bets for mountain travel.
–B.G.–Apr 13, 2011 at 11:10 pm #1724370
@zackcenturyLocale: Great Lakes
Curious to see what a Manchurian trout looks like, I did a "feeling lucky" search and came up with this site: http://www.cherrytrout.com/fish.html
You might also click the link to "the streams" on the same site.Apr 13, 2011 at 11:18 pm #1724372
I looked at it last week. I hope to catch Cherry Trout, too (they are the two native species there). One of my soon to be coworkers is a trout fisherman and has lived there for 8 years.Apr 14, 2011 at 12:17 am #1724380
I live and teach in Mokpo (the Southwestern Port city and terminus for the Jeolla spur of the KTX line). Over the past 8 months I've lived with Koreans. Observed their ways. Don't expect to get any long-term back country travel on the hermit peninsula. It just doesn't happen like that here. Most of the major mountain ranges are serviced by wide and maintained trails between alpine style huts (imagine the AMC in the White Mountains). Upside: cheap accommodations (7k won…about $6.50) and major foreigner soju cred for doing something other than going to a bar with other foreigners. Downside: you have to stay at huts and there aren't many (if any camping options). I was told that the huts were built to keep the inexperienced Korean campers from burning down the mountains. Didn't believe it. Then stayed in a hut over the lunar New Year in February and saw a dude swat over his whisperlight stove after it sent a fireball 8 feet high into the rafters. Just turn it off, man.
The mountains are beautiful. And well worth bringing your gear. Just don't expect to need the heaviest bag or a tent for more than beach camping with your friends. I've used my full kit on bike touring trips b/c once you're off the beaten path you can always bed down on a beach or something.
It's mostly day hikes. And you'll get a laugh out of the Koreans dressed to impress like a backpacker magazine advert to scale the local 500 footer between trips to the norae-bang. On my 4 day trip through Jirisan I saw a guy with a backpack…i can't even imagine how big it was b/c the largest pack I've ever seen shouldered was an Osprey 85 liter. This thing was easily one and a half times the size of that. Hard shell mountaineering boots. Glacier glasses. AND HE COULDN'T EVEN PITCH A TENT OR BIVY B/C YOU'RE IN A NATIONAL PARK. Priceless.
Another thing to consider (especially if you get multiple weeks of vacation) is to bring your kit so you can use it outside the country. Think: Sapporo or even Nepal.Apr 17, 2011 at 12:15 am #1725484
That's some good knowledge sharing.
I'll be up near ft humphreys in Gyeonngi-do teaching public school English teachers–I get 7 weeks paid vacation plus all the national holidays (goes to 10 weeks if I stay on more years).
Sounds like maybe I should plan on a hop over to japan if I want to do a longer trip–maybe a relative will join me (my wife is Japanese) and plan for day hikes or maybe one nighters in Korea. Unfortunately, I don't think the vacation breaks will line up for best season in Nepal–but possibly April could work. Would love to visit Buddha's hometown–already been to Confucius'.Apr 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm #1727241
@kwilletsLocale: San Francisco
I posted on this guidebook some time ago:
I'm hoping to fit in a few days of hut-to-hut type trekking this summer, but family events may interfere.
There does seem to be a bit of showoffishness with $100 hiking shirts, etc., but there's plenty of rugged terrain.Apr 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm #1727311
If you'll be in Korea hiking and want company, let me know. I have a fixed schedule, but there are about 3 weeks or so that I could have off (just have to apply in advance).Apr 20, 2011 at 9:04 pm #1727337
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Carey, have a good time there…We expect pictures my friend!!Apr 29, 2011 at 8:50 am #1730890
@kwilletsLocale: San Francisco
If it helps, I just ran across an edition of this magazine in my book pile and looked up their website:
They also sell a book of hiking maps of the national parks, which is printed on Tyvek(!):
The Tyvek is probably a good idea, just because of sweat alone. I did notice last summer that I would saturate a T-shirt (cheap wicking type) in 20-30 minutes of hiking or trail running. It wasn't extremely hot, but the uphills get you.May 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm #1732104
@footeabLocale: Pacific Northwest
Take a flight to Japan. I know not the cheapest route. Bigger mountains and there is actually a "bit" of a wilderness feel to it compared to Korea. Though honestly anytime I go to a new part of the world I don't really care about a "wilderness" feel as I am more interested in the biology and botany of my surroundings, though this does wear thin after a while. =)
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