Korean Mountain Hikes: Songnisan 속리산

One day, all of a sudden, my friend asked me, “Will you go to Songnisan, hiking with me?” The reason I said ‘all of a sudden’ is that a person who always asked to go hiking was me, not her. She likes hiking but has a fear of heights, so I have gone to the peak alone, behind her. We are cool friends, so nothing matters between us. Her sudden question made me a little hesitant, but my response was “Sure, why not?”

We parked a car near Songnisan National Park, had early lunch, and started hiking. In autumn, a lot of hiking lovers and tourists visit a mountain to see the magic of autumn colors, but due to Covid-19, we could see some people taking a walk near Beopjusa and few people on the mountain. She is one of my close friends, but we don’t meet frequently because her house and office are far from Seoul. So once we see each other, our conversation keeps going on and on and on, and it never ends. However, the higher we went up, the less we talked. Between Naengchenongol Shelter and Munjangdae, we almost lost our words. I heard a mountain that has ‘ak(악)’ in its name was really hard to hike, but not always. I could not find any ‘ak’ in Songnisan(속리산), but 0.5km up the mountain felt like 10km.

When I reached the peak, Munjandae, all my sweat had suddenly gone with the wind. The 360-degree view from the Munjandae was extremely amazing. Pinch me if I’m dreaming! Whenever I go hiking and see a jaw-dropping and breathtaking spectacle, I cannot believe my eyes and am frustrated that I cannot put the beauty of nature into any words. I took some pictures and videos to try to contain the spectacular views before my eyes, but I put down my phone and just stared at the scenery for a long time as if I imprinted it in my mind.

Hiking is always hard, and there are always grueling sections in the hiking route. But if it is not hard, it’s not hiking. “No sweet, no sweat!” That is the immutable and fundamental philosophy of hiking.

Beopjusa Park Information Center(법주사탐방지원센터) — Beopjusa(법주사) — Sesimjeong Shelter(세심정 휴게소) — Youngbawigol Shelter(용바위골 휴게소) — Boyueonjae Shelter(보현재휴게소) — (Naengcheongol Shelter(냉천골 휴게소) — Munjangeae(문장대, 1054m) — Shinsundae(신선대) — Gyungupdae(경업대) — Geumgang Shelter(금강휴게소) — Cheonwangbong Intersection(천왕봉 삼거리) — Beopjusa(법주사) — Beopjusa Park Information Center(법주사탐방지원센터)