What: Georim (거림) is an information center and trail-head in the southeastern part of Jirisan National Park. The main trail from the Georim area follows a mountainous stream for a while, heading up past Seseok Shelter (세석) which is right next to the 1703m Chotdaebong Peak (촛대봉).
Where: Georim is just 20 minutes west of the more-popular Jungsanri (중산리) center where we went last year to tackle Cheonwangbong, the tallest peak in South Korea’s mainland at 1915m. We were camping at Jungsanri again (it’s spacious, not crowded) so when looking at a topographic map of Jirisan National Park, I wanted to explore some more mountains nearby Cheonwangbong. Chotdaebong seemed like a logical choice since it’s still an impressive 1703m and it’s just to the west of the main peak, along the ridge. I had assumed we’d see some spectacular views along the ridge. Here’s a map below of the area:
Elevation: Chotdaebong (촛대봉) is 1703m, ranking 8th on the list.
Getting There: I’m not 100% certain, but I am assuming there aren’t any buses that regularly run to this Georim area, so accessing this trail-head without a car or long taxi ride might prove to be a little difficult… We drove our trusty ’97 and were able to park at the free parking lot for the day, no trouble.
Hiking Highlights: Our friend Ian joined us on this hike. We set out around noon because we a) drove from Yeosu b) went to Jungsanri to set up camp and c) drove back to Georim area. We wanted to see some new terrain and trails, so with our backpacks full of water and food, we began heading up.
As you can see in the above trail map, we had a 5.0km trail to Seseok Shelter (where you can sleep if you reserve ahead of time) and then just another 0.5km to the right (east) to Chotdaebong Peak. We’d plan for an out-and-back because unfortunately there wasn’t a way to make a loop with the available trails.
The trail was beautiful. We hiked this back in May so the blossoms were still out and the birds were making music. The trail follows a mountain stream for the first 2km or so, and it was fun to listen to the water as we trotted along.
Overall this trail wasn’t too difficult nor technical… just “long”. There were some occasional boulders that served as obstacles just like these:
But otherwise, it was pretty easy going and fairly relaxing (unlike some trails where it’s a stair-master for 3 hours).
I love when the air is clean and you can see for long distances… the Korean mountain ranges have so many ripples. I think they’re pretty neat.
After a couple hours of hiking we made it the 5.0km to the Seseok Shelter, which turns out to have some pretty good scenery up near the ridge:
We made that right-hand turn to finish the 0.5km to the goal, Chotdaebong Peak. There we some hikers with large packs, they were likely hiking a good portion of the ridge or the entire ridge during the weekend, making stops at one of the shelters at night for food and sleep.
The three of us hung out on Chotdaebong for a few minutes. The sun was warm, but the wind was a bit chilly. We snacked and made friends with some Koreans (love it!).
Standing atop Chotdaebong was a pretty good feeling, and I’m sure Ian and Elicia would agree. We were up there. 1703m to be exact. Just across the ridge (and behind us in the above picture) stood Cheonwangbong Peak (1915m).
More Hiking Highlights:
We headed back towards Seseok Shelter, then took a left hand turn down the trail we had just gone up. Just like on the way up, we enjoyed some good conversation. Thoughts of a nice meal, some beer and our hammock began flooding my mind, and I was excited to camp! It would be our first time camping in 2014. Camping and hiking sure go hand-in-hand… don’t they?
The sun was still fairly high. We were on the summit around 3:00pm and made our way back to the car around 5:00pm.
Near Georim we had really spectacular views of a valley, it was really beautiful with the lowering sun hitting all the trees:
Near the trail-head, I saw this contraption. I see locals using to haul things around the farms in Korea. I don’t think porters use them to take supplies up to the shelters (bringing down trash) but I could be wrong…. They’re pretty cool though, I want one.
One more view of the sweet valley:
Overall, this was a nice trail that wasn’t too strenuous nor time-consuming. I liked following the river for a while, and I also really enjoyed the blossoming trees that lined the trails. Jirisan is such a huge park with many peaks along the ridge. Next, I’m really intrigued about hiking along the entire ridge. It’s roughly 40km and goes up-down-up-down-up along the peaks. I’d love to make some plans to do the whole thing in a long weekend! Jirisan is amazing and I know we need to spend even more time here. After two visits now to Jirisan, I’m just thinking about (and planning) the third. I guess really good parks will do that to ya.