Did I trick you? Don’t let the fact that I haven’t posted anything since November 22 let you think that Elicia and I haven’t been up to much of anything. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite! I’m purposefully a bit behind and have four hikes in Korea to post info about. The break from typing/editing/uploading posts was quite nice, and now I’m refreshed and ready to get caught up. These winter months gave us great opportunities in the vacation-department. Since December, we spent some time back in the USA, visited Mexico for our friends’ wedding, taught for a few weeks in Korea (winter camp), spent some time in Sumatra Indonesia (post coming soon about our jungle trek) and in four short days we’ll be on a flight to the Trang Islands in Thailand for week. Oh, and last weekend we spent two days skiing at Phoenix Park, one of the sites for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. I won’t bore you with all the details/highlights from all our travels… my wife Elicia keeps it fresh with great perspective on her blog.
Now, about Bonghwangsan (봉황산) & Hyangiram (향일암) :
Back in early December we drove south of Yeosu city, across the somewhat-famous Dolsan Bridge, to the beautiful and rustic island of Dolsan. Our dear friends Kenny & Alison kept us company, and the four of us parked in the middle of Dolsan island near the start of the trail, with the intention of hiking south and east to Hyangiram which is a beautiful hermitage/temple right along the southern coast, a popular spot to see magnificent sunrises. If you don’t have a car, you could alternatively take a taxi or city bus to the starting point and hike down to Hyangiram and ride the bus back to Yeosu city (we simply rode the bus back to our car). Here’s a map that shows where Dolsan Island is relative to Yeosu, along with a second map with details of we parked, the hiking trail distances, and Hyangiram’s location.
The start of the trail began in a rural farming community, and it was a quiet Saturday morning with the sun warming everything up and a light breeze. For early December, this weather felt tropical compared to our winters back in Wisconsin. After a few minutes we approached a wooded mountain and looked back, and I captured a quick shot of where we parked and walked through:
Soon enough we were on the
stairmaster trail, surrounded by trees, nature, and quietness. Not another human in sight, our group of four told stories and shared laughs as we made our way towards the top of the 460m Bonghwangsan Mountain.
The rays of sunshine nearly blinded my iPhone5 in the above picture…
The first section from where we parked the car to the peak of Bonghwangsan Mountain is 2.5km. There weren’t any leaves on the trees as they all turned colors and fell months ago, but this allowed us to see through the forest often times and see the coast. We had a particularly warm and clear day for this one.
We eventually made it to the top of Bonghwangsan Mountain (460m) and we stopped to snack on the trail mix, apples, oranges, and sandwhiches we packed. The scenery was pretty cool, if you’re into that sort of thing:
Hiking hasn’t gotten old down here in Yeosu, and I don’t think it will anytime soon. With a back-drop like this while eating lunch with friends on top of a huge boulder in early December… yup, it was a Saturday well-spent.
We continued following the trail south and east, making our way towards Hyangiram. Nobody had a watch. Nobody cared. The sun was up and we were enjoying ourselves, taking our time, appreciating the day.
^That’s Kenny being awesome.
After the peak, we hiked another 3.4km and crossed the road you can see on the above map. We then carried on for the final 2.9km of the trail. The trail near the bitter-end is really quite neat. It’s above Hyangiram and offers up 270-degrees of ocean-view with islands scattered in the distance. We paused yet again to soak in this relatively un-discovered, remote gem-of-a-look-out, and then hopped down the stairs into the grounds of Hyangiram where we walked around and got fed a bunch of rice cakes from a worker.
All-in-all this Saturday was an A+ in my book and I’m sure the others would agree. I’m pretty confident you could hike this 8.8km trail just about any time of the year and almost have the whole thing to yourself. Sure, it’s a little harder to get to than others right near Yeosu city, but the extra time/cost to see Dolsan was well worth it. And before I forget, the last half of this trail is technically within the Dadohaehaesang National Marine Park, “so you know it’s gotta be good!”