Hiking Hallasan in Autumn – Eorimok Trail

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The Eorimik trail is one of the easiest routes to take on Hallasan. It’s popular with couples (Jeju is a popular destination for Korean couples) or families travelling with kids or elderly people. After lunch, and taking a few moments to appreciate the peak, we began our descent. We chose the Eorimik trail, because it would be easier, after the scenic Yeongsil Trail, and would give us a different view of the mountain.

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The trail begins with a boardwalk that takes you through lush greenery. With the sun out, and clear skies, everything looked beautiful. There’s a viewing point, early on this route, and it gives you to a vantage view of Jeju city, below, and oreums in the distance. Families with children and couples were still climbing up.

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The boardwalk leads to steps and eventually a small stretch of rocky stones. The trail flattens after this point. It’s a good idea to wear hiking shoes, not sneakers, something I kept regretting not doing, as the stones get painful when the pressure increases as your descend. The stony steps lead to a another boardwalk and I had to take a break from the beating my ankles had taken.

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Just when I thought it got easier, the trail morphed into cascading steps of unevenly lined stones. We were getting closer to the base, deeper into the forest, and it was beautiful with bursts of fall colours. Initially, my excitement with all the colour, around me, dampened the torture of descending on broken stones. Unlike the Yeongsil trail, that takes you over the ridge of the mountain, this trail skips those plunging valley views, and follows a simpler path that cuts deep into the forest. It must be easier while climbing. However, if you have a problem with your knee or ankles, it can get painful with the pressure and hard steps. If you skip a step, or are not careful enough, it’s possible to sprain your ankle. Other hikers quickly whizzed by me, and Basil didn’t have much trouble either, but I struggled to find my footing without injuring my knee, which was showing some signs of distress.

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The forest was in a state of decay with giant trees uprooted, exposing their roots, and most of the branches were bare. There were few streams that hadn’t lost their strength and gently gurgled in the silence of the forest. Although, the branches were bare, the base was pretty green with moss or shrubs that had survived fall.

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There were moments, on the trail, where I thought I might not be able to continue any further. And walking, is like a rhythm. You either have it or you don’t. Whether you’re walking on flat land, or climbing a mountain, or descending; everything depends on how you breathe, balance your weight, and get your footwork correct. In preparation for this hike, I walked a lot, and managed to correct the way I walked, and controlled my breathing while doing so. That’s why, climbing the mountain wasn’t hard. While descending, I think, I forgot what I had learned from all those walks. Instead of descending faster, I kept stopping, and my old fears of injury kept playing in my mind.

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It was a difficult patch and I understood why the signboard marked this part of the trail in red. We eventually made it to the river crossing.

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The river had dried and the bridge looked strange on a bed of rocks. The trees were burning orange and yellow and looked stunning. It was worth it and that’s the beauty of a torturous hike. There’s always a piece of heaven waiting on the other side of a hellish trail.

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When we exited Hallasan National Park, I was dead tired, and yet, quite happy to have made it. And, it’s strange, as I write this post, nearly two months after our hike, I don’t remember the pain or the tiredness, as much as the the beauty and silence of the forest.

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We walked, in silence, on a well paved road (seemed like a luxury now) from the entrance of the trail toward the bus stop, surrounded by flaming trees, and chirping forest birds. It might have been a kilometre or two long to the bus stop. Thankfully, the trees kept me going and I was feeling quite happy. We made it to the bus stop and waited for 20 minutes before a cab stopped. The driver said that the bus wasn’t coming and once again, we had to take a cab back to our hotel in Jungmun. Jeju had been a wonderful discovery and I knew, we had to be back again.

27 responses to “Hiking Hallasan in Autumn – Eorimok Trail

  1. Beautiful! (One thing I have always found helped with my knees on the “downs” is to use hiking poles. Even one makes a huge difference, but two is best. It takes some of the weight off your body and the pounding of that downward momentum off your feet, ankles and knees, dispersing it over 4 points of contact, rather than 2… for the mountain hiking we do, I would never go without them.)

      • Shells! How’s the cold? You should try hiking (down) Mt.Taebaksan in the snow…lol! You don’t have to do much. It’s fun slipping down…haha. OK..not really. Basil had so much fun though. I’m not sure if the Inca trail is for me. 😦

    • Thanks, Sheri! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed our hike. The next time, I want to make it to the top. There’s a beautiful lake on the crater of the summit.
      We did have hiking poles, at least I did. Additionally, I wear a knee guard to protect my right knee. It was the wrong shoes that made it difficult on the rocks. We should have followed the advice of other hikers. Hallasan’s rocks are porous and get tricky.
      I guess, we packed too much to do and see on a 10 day trip…

  2. I am with you…as you look back you only remember the beauty and the resulting happiness, not the tiredness or the how strenuous the hike was! Happy reading your experience.

    We have been to a number of National Parks in the US and have done what you did…not in sneakers though 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by, Alok! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed our summary of the hike. These days, we aren’t very well prepared with any of our trips. We knew we should have packed hiking shoes. Back in Seoul, you can hike most mountains (relatively smaller) in sneakers. Hallasan’s volcanic rocks make it a little painful. 🙂 Must add, love your panoramic views of the National Parks you’ve visited in the US. Definitely on our list! 🙂

    • Thanks, Arvind! Thought you’d like them. We saved the best for last, didn’t we? I have a weak right knee and kind of injured it on a hike. It was difficult to hike after that and I’ve got be careful with the pressure. Changed the way I walk too. It’s definitely better though! Thanks for asking. 🙂

      • Weak knee? do you mean a problem area in a longer run or just a temporary one? Facing a similar situation. 😦
        I guess we now know which photograph will capture our attention. 🙂

      • My right knee was always weak. I suspect, as a kid, I hit it on a pole while swirling. 🙂 This is just me analysing. I didn’t give it much thought. And two years back, on the hike (down) on the Great Wall it kind of got worse. Yoga helped it and I did some physiotherapy. I wear a knee guard on hikes and use hiking poles as urged by the physio. Actually, a lot of the walking is to get it back in shape. I need to strengthen the knee..that’s what I was told. Did your knee get injured on a hike?

      • I’m not sure if this is an injury caused due to workout in a gym or hike. My guess is that it’s an injury caused by mishap in a workout and flared up by constant hikes, week after week. I’m not sure if things can ever be rolled back, but it has rolled me off the hiking schedule for now. I’m doing lots of physio therapy workouts. Looking for some permanent option to fix it. 🙂
        It’s always a problem during a descend when you have an injured knee. Do carry, a pair of hiking pole, it eases out strain on knee, greatly.

  3. The Fall colours are spectacular in these shots! Actually, it’s just approaching the Fall season in Argentina. The days are starting to cool off a bit. Of course, in Southern Patagonia, it’s pretty much winter all year, but up here in Mendoza, some trees are starting to change colour. I always find the descent to be the hardest (especially on the knees). My solution is to try to serpentine down when possible although it looks like your trail didn’t give you any opportunity for that and poles do help a lot.

    • The forest was fantastic, Debbie! And we couldn’t get as many shots as we hoped for. I can’t get enough of your mountain views in Southern Patagonia. It’s on my list, just like every other beautiful place on our planet. 🙂
      I’ve worked (mostly mentally) a lot to appreciate hikes and still make many mistakes, especially on the descent. Basil did suggest I serpentine down, but the rocks make it a bit tricky. Our trips are turning out to be more unplanned and spontaneous. That can be exciting, though leaves us unprepared at times. Hiking shoes would have been perfect! 🙂

  4. The pictures are undoubtedly stunning Cheryl!
    It must have been a divine experience! It’s been a while since I walked like this amid the lush bounty of nature. I like how you say the trees kept you going. I remember the last time we went on a hike such as this I tried something similar to give me much needed energy. Of course, it was primarily the hunger pangs that made me race 😂

    • Thanks a bunch, Divya! 🙂 Nature keeps us going. Hiking didn’t come naturally to me though. It’s been a slow effort and each hike has been memorable.
      Canadian mountains looking stunning. I’m sure it must have been an awesome hike. Hunger can be quite a motivator! 🙂

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