Today’s itinerary: Jangteomok Shelter – Cheonwangbong Peak – back to shelter – Baekmudong – Seoul
Deep in the night, the hour even owls are sleeping, everyone started making noise at 3 am. Of course, we all are going up to the peak. Since we’re leaving our bag here for the hike, all I have to do is to put everything in my bag and bring a small bag for a headlamp, water bottle, a jacket, a chocolate bar, and of course, a flask with Scotch Whisky.
As we planned, we leave to the peak slightly after 4 am. No 10kg bag on my bag, I couldn’t feel lighter! The power of light packing, I feel it once again. It’s estimated as an hour of fast walking, but we are climbing 300 m elevation this morning in the dark, so it’s important to concentrate. Rocks are slippery at night.
The sky looks kind of promising. Moon is bright and the eastern sky looks like it’s a bit clear. Are we really going to see the sunrise? With that thought in mind, we reached the top in 40 minutes. Determination. Just like that, we are standing on the tallest peak of Jirisan, of South Korea. There are many other hikers already waiting for the sun to come. The sky is already doing some of the magic. As you know, right before the sunrise is actually the prettiest. The different shaped clouds are reflecting the yellow and orange glow while dancing in the sky. What a magical moment. So now I’m sure, we are definitely going to see the sunrise.
As the sky gets brighter, we get to see what’s below our feet. The ocean of clouds covering the world. We are stranded on an island of the sky, surrounded by the clouds. It’s truly the feeling that I cannot describe with words. It’s the place where my imagination goes wild.
Exactly at 5:27 am, the sun peak from the clouds. I open my flask and finally cheers to the shining sun. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for, for how long? It might look like just another sunrise, but as a Korean, this means something bigger, greater, more significant. Compare to other mountains that I’ve climbed, 1915m isn’t that tall. Shelters are so well equipped, I can categorize it as glamping. But after walking for 3 days while feeling this maternal energy of Jirisan, this simple yet grand scene makes me tear up.
Name of the Cheonwangbong Peak means it’s the king of the sky. What a suitable name for this mighty place. The sunrise couldn’t have been more perfect. Someone behind me says “If you see this perfect sunrise here in your first try, 5 generations of your family did great good deeds, not 3 generations.” We all soak up the first sunlight from the tallest peak. No photo would justify how beautiful it was here.
We take more photos, especially with the stone monument with Cheonwangbong’s name. Hike down is quite different than the hike up just a couple of hours ago. Now we see what’s around, a more dramatic vista of the surroundings. We still have quite a way to get down but it feels like we succeed. After the last breakfast, we leave for Baekmudong.
From Jangteomok, you can go several different ways: going down to Jungsanri through Cheonwangbong Peak and Rotary Shelter is popular but the downhill is a level expert. If you want to end up in Jungsanri, it’s easier to come back to Jangteomok and head down to Jungsanri. If you are from Seoul or north side of South Korea, transportation options are better in Baekmudong. From here, you can take the non-stop bus to Dongseoul Bus Terminal and Nambu Bus Terminal (both in Seoul), or go out to Namwon City for a long-distance bus or high-speed train. We were going to go to Namwon but we discovered this wonderful non-stop bus to Seoul, so we decided to take the advantage of it.
So there you have it, the complete guide to the Jirisan ridge hike. Are you up for it? Do you want to feel this maternal energy from the mother of all mountains?
Fern (hand picked and dried) 10000won
Bus back to Seoul 21900
Seoul Metro 1400
 Day 1: Sungsamjae – Nogodan Shelter
 Day 2: Nogodan – Yeonhacheon Shelter
 Day 3: Yeonhacheon Shelter – Jangteomok Shelter
 Day 4: D-Day Cheonwangbong Peak Sunrise Extravagant