Friday, January 31, 2014


On our last day in Busan we explored the mountain fortress Geumjeongsanseong. Go ahead, say that three times fast. Our "few hours" of hiking turned into an all-day event. It is Korea's largest mountain fortress and was built on ground that previously held walls, if not a formal congruent fortress. In 1703, after the Japanese invasion of 1592 and the Manchu invasions in 1627 and 1637, the presiding King focused his attention on securing the waterfront areas. The wall is 10.5 miles long and is a popular hiking area.

We took the subway outside the city and walked a few miles from station to the bottom of the mountain. Along the way we passed ornate gates that would have been additional defenses during an attack from the sea.

We decided to take the ropeway up part of the mountain to save us some hiking time. We had planned on hiking from the South Gate to the North Gate and knew that was going to be enough miles.

The trails around the South Gate were not well marked. This side of the mountain is dominated by pine tree so the underbrush was non-existent. Best advice? Just keep going up and try not to slip on icy pine needles.

Wow, never seen that type of tree before.
At the summit we came across the first part of the wall. Still with no trail present we decided to always keep the wall to our left. That resulted in a little bit of bushwhacking until we came to a well-kept trail.

Rebuilt lookout tower

For most of the trail we were on an exposed ridge. The wind was ferocious. When the clouds cleared the view was beautiful. There was snow patches every so often.

We kept hiking until we reached the North Gate. The clouds had moved in and there was a little bit of rain. We decided to start our descent and spent more time hiking down through the mountains than we spent hiking Geumjeongsanseong. A large Buddhist temple, small restaurants, a few villages and then finally we reached a subway station. The mountain area is beautiful. It is easy to see how just a few feet of wall can aid in national defense. I wouldn't dare be exposed on the ridge trying to make my way into Korea!

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