Sunday, 3 May 2009


click any photo to see it bigger

Last week I was joined by Trevor (Travis Lynn and Heather Huxford Keisch) for the walk over the summit of Tonggo-san, one of the more famous peaks on the Nakdong trail. In the week since Andy and I were last out on the trail a bit more green has sprouted in the higher reaches of the ridge, and we enjoyed good isolated hiking across the mountain.

Tonggo-san 1067m

Information on the peak suggests that Tonggo-san was originally named Tonggok-san meaning an extreme sadness, misery and lamentation. The name comes from the story of an early king who was driven to this mountain by invaders - the name of the king or the period unfortunately I don't know - Tonggok was naturally reduced to Tonggo through regular usage. Later the great scholar monk and temple builder Uisang-daesa named the peak Cheonchuk-san (천축산) due to its resemblance to the Indian mountain of the same name - Uisang never visited India so perhaps he'd just heard of the peak, although there is a Cheonchuk temple on Dobong-san in Seoul (thanks David). In any case the name didn't stick.
There is a competing legend on the origin of Tonggo-san's name which I'll tell below.

Picnicing posers on the helipad

The ridge continuing north from Tonggo-san

Thousands of young trees on the western ridge, replacing those lost to fire and or the war.

A familiar sight - Alpine Bamboo which grows in great abundance in the highlands around Taebaek, and I expect will line the trail for much of its remainder.

Dapun-jae our end point with a crew coming from the north - standing around thinking about the hitch back.

Sarang-bawi (Love Rock) - the competing legend of Tonggo-san

Long Ago there lived an orpaned brother and sister who made their meager way foraging for medicinal herbs in the Buryeong-sa valley below Tonggo-san. One night the two were visited in their dreams by a spirit who told them the King of the heavens was very ill, and he could only be cured by samjiguyeopcho (a type of korean barberry), a rare herb found in the valley - the spirits had looked for the herb but goats had eaten all but those growing on the high cliffs, which none dared to climb - if the children would go up there and get the plant a great prize awaited.
For three days the children prayed before heading off up the cliff, they reached the top seven difficult days later and found the plant growing on the edge. Naturally excited the brother ran to the edge to grab the plant and in the process slipped falling to his death. The sister mourned his loss for 3days and nights before throwing herself off the cliff to join her brother. From that day the valley was filled with the laments of the pair, which eventually reached the spirit. The spirit turned the pair into two rocks closly embracing so they should never face the agony of seperation. The mountain above the valley was named Tonggo-san (from Tonggok mountain of lamentation) and the pine trees stained with their blood became a species known as Uljin Pines, whose bark and wood are both reddish.
Nowadays lovers come to the rock to pray for eternal love which many believe the rock has the power to grant and drinking samjiguyeopcho is said to do wonders to the fertility of prospective parents and aide in their conjugal harmony - it might at the very least get the ball rolling anyway as its usually soaked in liquor.

Buryeong-sa valley

We went home down the impressive Buryeong-sa gorge on National Highway 36running east to Uljin. One of the greatest drives in the land.
Buryeong-sa gyegok is rich in a wide variety of plants which are normally only found in southern and northern parts of the country, and is designated as a scientific research area.

Im in Uljin now for the last 3 days of this trek which I'll be starting tomorrow.



Anonymous said...

hey i heard that douch-bag guy got to taebaek and then jettisoned into the heavens on a sonic bolt of light, he is now san-shin!?!?


Anonymous said...

ah, that must be why his blog isn't finished? i thought i saw him done the local-supa the other day, hanging out with know wonyho's back on the turps aye?