Monday, 26 May 2008

3rd week: On Golden Pond mountain.

Rain kept me off the ridge this Saturday, Sunday however was clear and hot and I walked across Geumjeong-san and Gyemyeong-bong in a semi-circle above Beomeo-sa temple.

Godang-bong peak, Geumjeong-san from the North gate.

The North Gate of Busan's fortress wall was my start point this Sunday with the trail heading up to Godang-bong (801m), the highest peak of Geumjeong-san.
Geumjeong-san "Golden Spring Mountain" gets it's name from the legend of Geumeol, a golden fish who descended from the world of Brahma on a five-coloured cloud to a golden pond, located on the eastern side of the peak. The temple Beomeo-sa below also gets it's name from this legend.

From Godang-bong back to the North Gate and the peaks of Ognya-bong and Uisang-bong.

Gomo-dang, on Godang-bong peak.

Near the top of Godang-bong is a shrine to Gomo, a Goddess of heaven who is said to have come down to become the spirit of Geumjeong-san mountain.

Godang-bong peak; small, rocky and popular on a Sunday.

The ridge continuing from Geumjeong-san, following the course set by the power lines, bypassing the peak of Janggun-bong to the left.

The Nakdong river below the ridge and a couple of adventurous dudes on the rocks.

The first signpost specific to the trail. (낙동정맥! heading right)

And to the left the trail to Janggun-bong.

Gyemyeong-bong peak

Beomeo-sa temple from Gyemyeong-bong below the ridge of Geumjeong-san.

The long urban river of Busan, stretching north to Nopo-dong below Gyemyeong-san.

And that may be the last view back on Busan city, the ridge now heads into rural Korea, passing through some of the most remote areas of the country on it's journey to Taebaek-san.
I'll be back on the trail June 7th for a couple of days for the walk to Habuk town.

Monday, 19 May 2008

2nd week: Following the wall to city's end

Mr.Jeong and I at trails start in Gaegeum area.

The second weekend on the trail started in Gaegeum-dong where Mike and I ended up the week before. I expected to spend a lot of time finding the trail entrance in this large urban area but luckily I was joined by my good friend and Baekdu-daegan expedition translator Mr.Jeong Gyu-hwan, a Busan local who quickly navigated what turned out to be the final section of urban river, finding the trail sandwiched between an elementary school and an apartment tower.

Looking down to Gaegeum from Samgak-san.

The ridge continues north from Gaegeum, with the main residential suburbs of Busan to the east and the Nakdong river to the west. Over the weekend I crossed the peaks of Samgak-san, Aejin-bong, Baekyang-san, Uisang-bong and Oknya-bong following Busan's restored fortress walls for much of the way to Buk-mun (north gate).

Samgak-san (triangle mountain) and its triangle rocks.

Northern view to World cup stadium.

Fellow Nakdong-jeongmaek trekker eyeing the ridge ahead from Baekyang-san.

Cairn on Baekyang-san, behind which a keen entrepeneur is selling ice-creams out of a reinforced chilly bin.

The ridge splitting Buk-gu (left) and Dongrae-gu (right) areas of Busan.

Beginning of Geumjeong-san fortress.

Following attacks from Japan in 1596 and the Chinese 44 years later there was a growing awareness of the need for defence from an attack from the sea. Work began on the Geumjeong mountain fortress in 1703 under the direction of King Sukjong. The wall was largely destroyed during the Japanese occupation (1910-1945) and restoration began in 1972. The walls stretch for about 17km along the ridge.

Nam-Mun. The South Gate.

Cable car up the ridge to the South Gate.

Hyujeong-am temple, near South gate.

Wood carving in Sanshin-gak.

Usually the images depicted in the carving above, Dok-seong (the lonely saint,left) Chil-seong (Seven stars of the Big Dipper, centre) and San-shin (The Mountain-spirit, right) appear on seperate paintings within the shrine.

Watchtower between south and east gates.

East side of the ridge.

Dong-mun, East Gate.

Fortress wall stretching north between Uisang-bong and Ognya-bong peaks.

Climbers below the wall.

A recently renovated section of the Geumjeong fortress.

North Gate and end of ridge walk for the weekend.

The trail to Geumjeong-san, my path next time and the end of the fortress walls.

Geumgang-am temple below the ridge.

Bell at Geumgang-am.

Spring at Geumgang-am.

Sacred water at Geumgang-am temple.

Wide painting of the San-shin at Geumjeong-am.

The roof of the major temple Beomeo-sa, my start point below the ridge next time, which may be this coming weekend May 24th/25th or the following May 3ist.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Beginnings in Busan

The Windy Ridge

Urban hiking through Busan

Molun-dae south of Busan city where the Nakdong river meets the sea. The couple below are picnicing in a military foxhole, one of dozens on the rocks.

Mike at Molun-dae.

Leaving from the point of Molun-dae Mike and I headed north along the ridge to the west of Downtown Busan, heading over the small peaks of Ami-san and Bonghwa-san in our first afternoon.
It didn't take long before we realised that our goal of reaching Nopo-dong some 50km north by weekends end was going to be an ambitious one as we ran into suburban Busan shortly after exiting the park at Molun-dae.
Busan is a major city, easily the second largest in Korea, and we had to navigate our way through city streets and apartment blocks at every pass. This was a difficult and time-consuming exercise but worth it every time we found the forested trail entrance, ribboned by past walkers as on the Baekdu-daegan ( this time 낙동정맥), leading back into the hills.

Dadae-po beach is formed of sediment from the Nakdong river and connects the peninsula with Molun-dae, which was once an island.

Our first navigational challenge, the newly constructed and simply enormous "Lotte Castle" apartment complex on the hills behind Molun-dae. My mate Jun in Daegu lives in a Lotte Castle and they're pretty flash, he can turn on the taps with his foot when doing the dishes and there's a TV on his toilet roll holder. The grounds of the apartment probably cover 100acres and it took a good half-hour before we found the continuation of the trail behind building 201.

The trail behind 201 heading up to Ami-san.

From Ami-san looking south back to the start of the ridge at Molun-dae.

And west, the mouth of the Nakdong River

The small temple Seorim-sa (서림사) on the trail below Ami-san has some interesting paintings in it's shrines and an awesome vege garden.

San-shin, the Mountain Spirit of Korea's shamanistic religion, sitting as always with a tiger under a pine tree in the San-shin gak (mountain spirit shrine) at Seorim-sa.

Another painting in the same shrine.

A second, newer painting of San-shin in the same shrine.

Yong-wang, the Dragon King; Lord of Oceans and all things water.

Our second, and in the end most time consuming urban river, Jeongmil-gogae pass connecting Ami-san to Bongwha-san.

The hills above Gupyeong-dong overlook the busy Gamcheon harbour and are dominated by a large military facility which the trail follows along the ridge.

Training apparatus

Housing on Guijeong-gogae pass.

The small Beopgye temple (법계사) decorated with lanterns for the coming Buddha's birthday holiday.

"The Kennedy Rose" bar and grill. Strategically placed right on the trail, we walked in the doors just on dark after searching for some time for the next trail entrance. This photo is of course taken in the brilliant sunshine of next morning...

Seongbul temple above Guijeong pass, our start point on day two.

San-shin of Seongbul-sa

Gamcheon harbour.

Guengak-am (극락암) temple above the Dongju area

San-shin shrine at Geungak temple

Mike and huge cairn on unnamed peak

Busan downtown and the Busan Harbour

Jindo-gae, the intelligent and loyal dog native to Korea, living on the trail.

Ami-dong east of the ridge.

The widest section of urban river, below the Daeti tunnel.

Heading down toward the Daeti tunnell, if you've been there before you'll realise we're going the wrong way.

The trail up to Siyeok-san and Gudeok-san

On Siyeok-san, with the Gudeok stadium below.