Apr 7, 2012 at 5:31 am #1288417
My wife and I are going on our first real trip overseas together, and we're hoping to get in some hiking while we travel in South Korea. This will be three weeks in the middle of monsoon season, and it will be hot (avg ~30C). There's a wedding we'll be attending there so that's why we're going in the summer.
Please help us figure out what we need. This list is pretty much everything we have so far:
Arcteryx Altra 75
Arcteryx Briza 75
-MSR Hubba Hubba, with footprint
-MEC Silnylon tarp 6×10
(I'm not sure any if this will be necessary. I think where we will be hiking there are ample mountain huts for cheap rental. Also I have read that in general they do not allow backcountry camping.)
-MEC Merlin -3C
-Some Mountain Engineering bag. Rated 0C, I think
-Cheap sleep pad from years ago
-Snowpeak Gigapower w/piezo
28 fl oz. Ti pot & 10 fl oz. silicone bowl
-Gravityworks water filter system
There's obviously a lot of holes. Much of what we have already was purchased in haste to go on a last-minute Algonquin trip last fall. We fell in love with backcountry hiking and now we want more. That trip was only a week, though, and we're not sure if we're prepared for three weeks.
As for clothing, especially footwear, we're really not sure what we need to bring. We definitely need to get some waterproof breathable jackets and waterproof shoes. Any ideas? Thanks for the help!Apr 7, 2012 at 5:53 am #1864663
I live in Japan and have never hiked in Korea, but Korea's climate and terrain are almost identical to Japan's.
Not only will it be hot, but it will be incredibly humid. You'll want at least a light, loose, quick drying t-shirt. June however is very temperamental, especially in the last ten years, so it could also be very cold and higher elevations (above 2,000 meters) could still have a lot of snow. Korea is colder than the same latitude in Japan, so prepare for possible cold temperatures.
Water-breathable rainwear only goes so far in hot humid conditions. Most likely you'll overheat as you're climbing. Bring the rainwear for rest stops and cold ridges and such, but very often it is much more comfortable and efficient just to let yourself get wet, as long as you don't get cold. Your body heat will dry off your clothes quickly.
If the monsoon does hit, you can get days and days of unending rain, though usually just drizzles and not downpours. Mud will be a very big factor in your walks. Some areas will probably have leeches (nothing to worry about except when you're camping). I'd try to wear light shoes with good traction. In the monsoon your feet will get wet no matter what you wear. I almost always just wear light runners with mesh tops that dry out quickly, although with mud mesh may not be the best.
The mountains in Japan and Korea are STEEP! Try to be in good shape when you get there.
I don't know about Korea, but in Japan the authorities tend to be pretty lax about camping, even when there are rules against it. As long as you're tidy and considerate I've never had a problem with camping where I wanted, as long as it wasn't on protected wildlife land.
If the hut system there is the same as Japan's probably you don't need to worry about food much. You can get whatever basics you need at the huts, and great, healthy prepared meals. The huts also make making friends very easy. You'll probably see Koreans at their best and most charming there. Koreans absolutely love hiking and are a very friendly people, so the huts would be a great place to meet them.
I do have to say though… as a Backpacking Light member your list sounds a bit heavy and conventional for the folks around here. I'd look around at some of the articles on packs, sleeping methods, shelter, and cooking that BPL offers, to get an idea of how to lighten up the packs and become more efficient with each item you use.Apr 10, 2012 at 1:52 am #1865624
I'm in Korea at the moment and can +1 everything Miguel has said. What sort of routes are you planning? Continuous hiking or bits of day and overnight trips?Apr 10, 2012 at 8:44 am #1865700
I just came back from a month in Korea. IMO the combination of the heat and humidity in June, the steepness and your traditional gear could possibly make for a pretty unpleasant experience, especially for you wife. I would look into doing some hut to hut hiking or day hiking and leave the gear at home. Also, the time change takes about a week to get used to so figure that in also. Seoul is one of the great cities of the world. I go often but if I only had 3 weeks to spend there and may never go back I would experience as much of it as possible.Apr 10, 2012 at 3:55 pm #1865865
Just to add to Jack's suggestions, if you do go the hut-to-hut route, leaving most of your gear at home, don't forget to still bring the essentials and a light shelter for just in case you get stuck somewhere. For the shelter you could use a tarp just big enough for two or a "zelt", that you can pick up in Korea:Apr 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm #1867482
Thanks for the insight! It looks like we will probably be doing hut-to-hut hiking, so we can leave the tent at home. What else can we safely leave behind? Sleep pads, stove? I don't want to get overzealous and then realize I need my water filter, too late.Apr 15, 2012 at 7:21 pm #1867590
ok. so with the exception of seoraksan and jirisan national parks there really aren't any long hikes in korea. the mountain ranges just aren't built that way. that said, there are some lovely day hikes in and around the mountains that i can recommend.
i live in mokpo (the major shipping port in the south west corner of the peninsula) and can say that for me that period of time is pretty whack for outdoor endeavors. it rains most days and if it's not raining it will be hot and humid to the point of frustration.
there are huts in soraksan and jirisan. i've been to jirisan in the winter and found it to be a lovely 4 (ok, probably more like a 2 or 3) day trip. but, older koreans are SOOOOO outdoor-oriented so it's likely you won't be able to get hut reservations unless you go mid-week. here's the reservation info:
but like many are saying here…it's not really the best time to be tramping through the woods in korea. you might consider a general outdoor-oriented tour of the country. a bike trip around jeju is really nice despite the heat (it's a bit breezy down there even in monsoon which makes it better). or day trips to some of the other national parks (wolchulsan strikes me as a good option). surfing in busan. etc.Apr 15, 2012 at 8:26 pm #1867608
With the way that things are going across the border, you might want to start your trek carrying a radiation suit.
–B.G.–Apr 16, 2012 at 4:50 am #1867682
With the way that things are going across the border, you might want to start your trek carrying a radiation suit.
Probably this was meant in jest, but there's been so much really bad and untruthful exaggeration and scaremongering going on about the Fukushima disaster that it's frustrating to see even a little comment like this. I live in Tokyo and that's far closer to the disaster than Korea is, and there is extremely low amounts of radiation here. It's no worse than the normal amount of radiation in any big metropolis.
Korea sits across the Japan Sea with a formidable mountain range in the middle of Japan blocking all westward spreading of any wind-bourne contamination from the eastern side of Japan. The western side of Japan gets none of the fallout, even the area closest to the disaster site.Apr 16, 2012 at 9:15 am #1867725
This has nothing at all to do with Fukushima!
South Korea has a belligerent neighbor much closer than that.
–B.G.–Apr 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm #1867877
Oh, you're talking about the missile scare. North Korea has done that so many times it's almost a farce now. With the new leader they have to put on some kind of show of bravado. Naturally they are being very carefully watched, but in all likelihood nothing is going to happen. No one here or South Korea is really seriously concerned.Apr 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm #1867892
This has nothing to do with the missile scare.
North Korea has tested nuclear devices previously. Based on its current state of technological prowess, we don't know when they are going to let something else slip.
I would hate to be hiking along somewhere near the Imjin River and suddenly see a bright light in the northern sky.
–B.G.–Apr 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm #1867904
Ach, Bob, why do you Americans do that all the time… constantly look for the worst and make the world seem like an awful place where everyone has to walk around hysterical, suspicious, and armed? There is no reason whatsoever to be putting information like this into this thread, gratuitously scaring people, and setting kernels of doubt into what will just be a great trip. South Korea is doing fine and is a great country to visit. Quit trying to take the fun and sense of safety out of it. It's hard enough going abroad for the first time.Apr 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm #1868005
as an american idiot abroad, i second this notion. there's a pretty big disparity between the actual severity of events in asia/europe and news reporting in the us. sensational news keeps you in your seat and sells add space. it's a shame b/c twice while living in other countries (once in london in 2003) and now in south korea i have had to talk my mother down off the "but that fire just across the border must mean they're preparing a massive ground troop asault" ledge. no. it was just some adjumma burning her garbage. anyone who's spent more than 20 minutes outside incheon airport knows what a friggin adjumma garbage fire looks like. or in london when they found a map of the london underground in possession of a terrorist cell in spain. you know who has a pretty accurate map of the london underground? ANYONE WITH THE FRIGGIN INTERNET.
maybe it's because nothing major ever happens in the states overnight so they need to fill in the 2 or 3 hours of bland chat to get you out of your pajamas and into that car to work. i guess the nikkei is too boring and foreign sounding to report on. but things get blown out of proportion by the 24 hour news guys.
north korea's not going to bomb anyone. they're not going to start a land war in asia. that'd be pointless. they're going to keep doing this little dance where they test us and then we reward them for not doing it again…until they need more food and then they test us once more. and until that stops the 24 hour news media in the states is going to keep reporting on it like it's the rapture and folks in south korea are going to keep doing whatever they were doing because around here they call that a tuesday.Apr 17, 2012 at 4:20 am #1868036
Arapiles .BPL Member
"We definitely need to get some waterproof breathable jackets and waterproof shoes"
Miguel's already covered off on the jackets, but in relation to the waterproof shoes I'd strongly suggest not falling for the membrane-in-boots thing, aka Gore-Tex. GTX doesn't work in boots – it just doesn't breathe or, perversely, keep the water out – in the weather you'd be experiencing your feet would rot. Also, if you do hit rain and water does get in your shoes (or boots) it won't drain out. If you do want something waterproof I'd suggest well conditioned leather but in hot and humid wear I'd actually wear the most breathable runners you can find.Apr 17, 2012 at 8:11 am #1868087
John S.BPL Member
US Embassy phone number in case you get picked up for hiking into North Korea.
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