One week ago, on Jeju, I climbed Halla Mountain. Halla Mountain is the tallest mountain in South Korea, coming in at an respectable 1950m. I couldn’t go to Jeju without climbing it, so at 10:15am, I packed my bag, grabbed some provisions and I scooted over to one of the hiking site to start my trek leading to the crater lake at the top. I started at around 11. There are 4 paths to the top, the one I took, Seongpanak Trail, is 9.6km and takes about 7 to 8 hours to complete. There’s a shorter trail that goes to the crater lake, but it takes longer. I figure it’s a more rigorous hike. Before I set off on my journey, one of the park workers told me that I wouldn’t be able to see the crater lake because the trail is divided in two and the top 3km (leading to the crater lake) closed at 1. Climbing up the 6km in 2 hours is uncommon, so he warned me I would be able to make it all the way. Hogwash, I say! I was going to make it to that checkpoint before 1!
I set off at a pretty good pace. Along the way, sat down on a log to have a drink. The forest was silent and I was surrounded my butterflies (though they may have been moths). It was great. By the 3rd kilometer, I had finished drinking 2L of sports drink. My pack was now a bit lighter and I was getting progressively more exhausted. Though it took a fair bit to push me to make it on time, thanks to my long legs, I made it at the checkpoint at 12:53. I was going to see that crater lake after all!
The top 3km was harder than I expected. I had overexerted myself on the first 6km, and I was now starting to think about a nice shower. By the time I made it to the top, fog had rolled in and I could barely see the lake. Regardless, I had made it. That’s all that mattered. At 2:30, we were ushered from the top (I figure so no one gets stuck on the mountain in the dark). At roughly 2:35, it started to rain. The weather up to that point had been great. It wasn’t too hot and the skis were clear. While it made the rocks a bit slippery, the rain didn’t affect me at all, I was already drenched.
After a good day of hiking, I finally made it to the parking lot at 6pm. And boy did that shower ever feel good!