Now, let’s get into it.
Today’s itinerary: Seoul-Gurye-Sungsamjae-Nogodan Shelter [3km]
If you want to start from the southwest side of Jirisan, Gurye is where you want to be. From here you can start hiking from Hwaumsa or Sungsamjae. We are going to Sungsamjae. Gurye is reachable by train or long-distance bus.
This is the timetable for the bus heading to Sungsamjae (see the middle-right section).
When the bus passes through the Cheonunsa Temple grounds, which is located at the entrance of the national park, someone comes onto the bus to collect 1,600won from everyone for an entrance fee. There is a long story why this fee isn’t actually fair, but there’s nothing we can do to solve it at this point. The temple collects an entrance fee because the road belongs to the temple, passengers never see the temple. But anyway, the trip takes about 30 mins to the highest point where a car can go in Korea (1102m/ 3615ft).
Today’s course is the easiest and the shortest of all. It’s an easy walk up to the Nogodan Shelter. This 3km path is just a little warm-up for the next few days. You can use the staircase to walk uphill, or you can walk on the ramp to save some strength.
If you want to hike up to Nogodan Peak, which is one of the three important peaks in Jirisan, you’ll have to start up before 4:30pm in summer and 3:30pm in winter. It’s a regulated area. It only takes about an hour for both ways from the shelter.
You can check into the shelter anytime after 5pm but you’ll have to arrive before certain times (it all depends on the season). There are different sections for men and women, but you can switch to sleep next to your partner once you’re inside since everyone is in the same room. Other shelters usually have different rooms for men and women.
Nogodan Shelter is most luxurious of all shelters. Because it’s reachable by car (official national park vehicles), it’s better equipped than others. There is running water right at the cooking area, a large backyard, lockers, a resting area (indoor), individual sleeping compartments and personal power outlets, and of course, wireless internet. The sleeping pads here are almost like yoga mats but more cushiony. If you didn’t bring a comfortable sleeping bag or sleeping pad of your own, I recommend you rent one. Good sleep is crucial for the next few days of hiking!
We made a delicious dinner and went to bed early to prepare for our first full-day hike the next day.
Seoul Metro to Nambu Terminal 1400won
Seoul-Gurye bus 19900won
Local lunch at a restaurant 7000won
Gurye-Sungsamjae Bus 4500won
Entrance fee 1600won
Map handkerchief 3000won
Nogodan Shelter 11000won
Sleeping pad 2000won