About Me


I’m just a tall, midwestern, American guy who seeks the satisfaction of feeling fulfilled whether it be at work, traveling, spiritually, at home or amongst friends. I married Elicia back in August 2012 in Dominican Republic.  We were accepted to teach English in Yeosu, South Korea for one year beginning April 2013.  We therefore gave notice to our employers, sold just about everything we owned, put the rest in storage, and flew to Korea to begin this new chapter in our lives, together.  Since day #1 we have loved the cultural experiences, teaching our students, and hiking the seemingly endless list gorgeous mountains.

Elicia and I enjoy hiking, and this blog will help document the cool summits and trails we’ve seen, along with some other neat stuff I see along the way.  She’s keeping track of our other shenanigans and every-day living in her blog, Life’s a Journee.  Enjoy!

We loved Korea so much we renewed our contracts and stayed for another year.  We thoroughly enjoyed our two years working, living, and exploring South Korea.  The experiences were rich and the adventures were epic.  Our time in Korea from April 2013 to April 2015 will always be remembered by the friendships we made, the trails we explored, and the summit selfies in all the national parks.

Rental Bikes - Tsushima

Life after South Korea:  We’ve since taught at an international school in Casablanca, Morocco from August 2015 to July 2017, introduced our first little bundle of joy into the world in June 2017 (Victoria Grace aka ‘Tori’) and will next be relocating once again… this time to Torreón, Mexico where I’ll be a Grade 9 math teacher.

Happy Trails – and thanks once again for stopping by Klimbing Korean Mountains.

Gureumdari - Cloud Bridge

24 comments on “About Me

  1. Hi there, I realise this is 6 months late but thanks for following Sneakers, Socks and Soju. I have a friend coming to teach in February and she is a hiking enthusiast. I can’t wait to show her this site so she can start planning her trips…I may even have to accompany her after seeing your pics ;)

    • No worries and thanks for stopping by here! I’d highly suggest going hiking here in Korea. Most trails are pretty tough and steep, but the views on top are always worth it. Just bring water and plenty of snacks and enjoy it! If your friend has any ?s please don’t by shy.

  2. Hi guys! Thank you for your amazing blogs about hiking. We would like to come to Korea for two weeks for hiking and seeing all the beautiful national parks. Can you please give us some tips on what to do and what to see in this period of time, We will be there in August and traveling by rental car, Many thanks in advance! Thomas

    • Hey Thomas – thanks for the kind words about my blog, it’s simply fun to hike in Korea and document a bit about it along the way! August will arguably be the hottest and most humid month but I think you can still enjoy it, just bring plenty of water! That’ll be great you have a rental car, it will help you get from park to park with relative ease. If you have two weeks in Korea, I think you’ll be able to see a good amount. Do you plan on only hiking or will you also plan on seeing other places/cities? Do you plan to camp, or stay in motels? I’m curious to know how much you want to do – if you’re ambitious and want a great route, I’d recommend Jirisan, you can do the entire ridge (we just did this last weekend, post coming soon about it). But, basically our favorite parks include: Seoraksan, Jirisan, Woraksan, Naejangsan, Chiaksan and Deogyusan. Also, Wolchulsan is really neat because of the sky bridge. Feel free to email me if you have other questions! shepard.thom@gmail.com Glad you’re coming to Korea to explore and hike! Cheers

  3. I just returned from a 2 week trip to Korea with my 18 yr son (my wife and I adopted him as an infant so it was a father-son trip to see his birth land). We hiked Daecheonbon (sp?) in Seroaksan from Osaek to the summit (overnight in the shelter) and then descent to Seoraksan-dong. I sure wish I had found your site BEFORE the trip! Getting info on this hike was not easy to do. If anyone is interested, the key is to find someone in the NPS office to take your reservation (email worked well once my random phone calls found someone). But then you have to pay the 8,000 won fee in country which took lots of leg work to find a friend of a friend to make that happen. But the most difficult thing about the hike was… the hike! We are both in very good shape with lots of hiking miles under our legs but that was steep and rocky (we had our 2 weeks of clothing in our backpacks, that didn’t help). I came to respect the Korean hiker (of which there are many). They are machines!

    Great pics and writing. I’ll continue to read more although it will be a while before we ever get back. Good luck!

    • Hi! Sorry for the very long delay, I now live in Morocco and don’t monitor this site as much. Thanks for the kind words and advice. It sounds like your hike and experience was epic! Thanks for sharing and I hope you enjoyed Korea! Cheers

  4. Hey Thomas!

    I loved this blog! I seriously can’t find a better one on the Internet that talks about hiking in South Korea! I am wondering if you and your wife have any recommendations about the best mountains to hike up if you can only do one or two in late April- early May. I’d love to hear your recs! If you don’t get this time, I would also like to say “thank you”, because my decision will most likely be based off of your blog!


    • Hey Jesse! Thanks for the comments. My wife and I left Korea in April 2015 and I don’t give this site the attention I should… I am glad you found it helpful though! Best hike: It all depends on what region you’ll be in. I think Seoraksan and Jirisan provide the best hiking and perhaps the best scenery, too. Late April early May is a great time for hiking… enjoy! Holler if you have more questions I’m happy to help.

    • Hi there – back when we lived in Yeosu, there was NOT a ferry. You could take a ferry from Wando Island or at the bottom of Jangheung to get to Jeju. I recommend checking websites for the most up to date info though. Thanks for stopping by my blog and have fun!

  5. Pingback: Important Site Update | KLIMBING KOREAN MOUNTAINS

  6. Hi Thomas. I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for this blog. I used your maps and descriptions a ton when I was doing my own national parks mission last year! Like you, I had a great adventure partner (my husband) to explore every mountain with, and we were also based in south South Korea (we were in neighboring Suncheon). I can’t tell you how many times I visited your website over the course of last year. I’m currently writing about my national park adventures on my own blog, and I thought, in addition to saying thank you, I’d let you know that I’ve given you props and linked multiple times to your site as well. Congrats on the new addition to your family, and good luck with your new adventure in Mexico! :)

    • Hi Carrie, thanks so much for stopping by and finding value in KKM site, it brings me joy to know you’ve found some tidbits of helpful info here. And thanks also for the shoutouts. Congrats on all your ROK hiking adventures and happy trails to you. Cheers!

  7. Hey guys,

    Huge fans, and my wife and I devour your website. We live in South Korea and will be here for another 1.5 years. We are avid hikers, travellers, and run a Facebook page called “Osan AB Hiking Community.” I would love to send you guys information to help you add more Korea content. We are also doing Mt. Fuji this year as well. Look forward to hearing from you!

    Nick & Angelica

    • Hey Nick & Angela, that’s awesome! Thanks for the kind words, glad you’re hitting up the beautiful Korean trails and peaks. We miss the hiking culture and outdoor experiences in the ROK! This blog is likely at its capacity for now, but what’d ya have in mind? My email is shepard.thom@gmail.com

  8. Hey Thomas,

    Your blog is great and I love how you describe each of your hiking experiences! I’m going to South Korea on Friday for 5 days from which I’d like to spend 1 in Seoul. Could you please share the top national parks you would recommend? I’m not so experienced in hiking for long hours but would still like to be challenged :-) Jirisan looks amazing… would you recommend it? Looking forward to hearing from you!


    • Hi there! Not sure if I’d recommend Jirisan if you aren’t too sure about hiking long distances, as most in Jirisan are pretty long and grueling (at least the ones we have completed). Maybe check out Seoraksan NP which isn’t too far from Seoul. Or Naejangsan. But as it’s autumn season now, I imagine the trails are good and busy, so arrive as early as possible to beat the crowds. Enjoy the trails, they’re lovely. Let me know if any more ?s. Cheers!

      • Hi Thomas! Thanks for your recommendation. I went to Seoraksan and it was great! A bit crowded because it was on Sunday but still, it was beautiful. Hope to hike again in South Korea!

  9. Hi Thomas!

    I studied in Seoul last semester at Dongguk University and was able to escape the bustling city three times to hike Deogyusan, Jirisan, and Hallasan (not to mention some hikes in the mountains surrounding Seoul). Exploring and meeting new people on those hikes were some of the best memories I made while in Korea and I owe each one of those memories to your and Elicia’s fantastic blog! I couldn’t find such descriptive and informative hiking information on Korea anywhere else online! This blog was essential in planning my trips.

    Now I am studying at Tsinghua University in Beijing and even though my semester has only just started, I am longing for another adventure. Do you know of any hiking blogs focused on China that are anything like yours, and with any luck, anywhere near as informative?

    I can’t thank you enough for all of your help.


    Symon Majewski.

    • Hey Symon, thanks for that heartfelt compliment about this blog, that was nice to read today!! Glad you found it of use. Unfortunately I don’t know of a blog in China – we had visited once or twice but only to Shanghai and Hong Kong and so hiking wasn’t a focus of our trips. I do wish you luck in both your studies and your adventures. Happy Trails to you and have a great 2019!

Leave a Reply to Thomas Shepard Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s