Sunday, September 26, 2010
Jiri San Adventure
I've lived in Jinju for well over four years now. I have always heard about how I should make it up to Jiri mountain. Well on Sunday I finally did just that with my friend and English man and his father. Now the Englishman and I are both foreigners who are married to Korean women. While on the mountain, I came to the realization that mountain climbing in Korea is poor man's golf. It's an activity to get you out of the house.
This was by far the highest mountain I have ever climbed. If you live anywhere in Korea and are fit in physicality and can tolerate heights, I recommend giving Jiri a climb. I must warn any potential mountain adventurers that when you climb Jiri you go up for four hours. You should also bring plenty of water, a few extra shirts, and a flashlight.
We started up the mountain yesterday about 11:00 or 11:30 in the afternoon. We reached the top at 3:30.
I have to say that the whole mountain is a place of striking beauty. There are trees, wild flowers rocks, birds, rocks, waterfalls, rocks, and a mountain stream that runs through more rocks.
The top of the mountain has a lot of huge jagged rocks that shoot up through the tree line. It's possible to take a brief siesta at the top on one jagged rock that is about the same surface area as a Korean one room apartment. We all stopped to drink some canned Makeoli and eat some apples, then it was time to go down.
One thing striking about the top of that mountain was how we were in and above some of the clouds. Once again, if you are afraid of heights, it might be a bit disconcerting to be breathing cloud.
We made our decent next to a small river that afforded us views of waterfalls and the jagged landscape. The only problem was, was that it started to get dark.
Jiri is a pretty difficult hike. The ground is littered with rocks and tree roots. As twilight turned to night, the only things visible on the ground were the white rocks. Stepping onto a dark patch could have meant stepping off of the ridge and onto a certain broken leg or death. Stupidly we didn't pack flashlights or headlamps so going was tough, but after a while we were wise enough to light the path with our cell phone screens.
As the cell phone batteries died we switched to the displays on our cameras, to save the small bits of juice in our phones in case we needed to call for a rescuing.
We struggled along in the dark for a few hours. Finally we were rescued by a middle aged couple who were wise enough to have a flashlight and a head lamp. They walked with us lighting our path. By 8:00 at night we emerged onto the paved road that lead to my friend's car.
Jirisan is a beautiful beautiful place, if you ever go there, try to begin your hike at first light, don't mess around in the dark. I saw some amazing breath taking things on our journey. I also learned to appreciate things we take for granted like daylight and flat surfaces. I also highly recommend the adventure.