Big hike today! It is my return to Muhak Mountain in Masan. The hike is lead by C and me. Two colleagues are joining us, plus other hiking associates. After hiking, we will part at the Gagopo Chrysanthemum Festival at Masan Harbour. I’m up for it.
The climb was as strenuous as I had anticipated. The paths were very rocky and also damp and slippery from the previous day’s rain. The rains and winds had deposited a lot of debris on the trails. However scenic the surroundings, the joy of being there was subdued by the necessity to concentrate hard. I even fell landing on my back but head below and feet above on the incline and got small scrapes on my right shin and elbow. (I believe that is the only time I have fallen while hiking in my entire life.)
Us three women from Busan joined some guys. Cs and “Uncle” went and brought along two guys who have hiked with the Busan groups many times before, even though I only was acquainted with one of them. They wanted to hang around and drink a lot, as usual.
The guys arrived late to the intercity bus terminal in southwest Busan where C had fixed a meeting point. By that time, we had already boarded a bus and were on the way to Masan because we had arrived a quarter of an hour late ourselves and figured we might have missed them. Actually, I was fairly confident that others would likely be late too, and indeed they were. We really did not know, though, whether we would see C in Busan first, or not until we got to Masan.
Anyway, we eventually got together at the Masan terminal and took off to find the trail. We started at the main trail head where there is a picturesque cluster of small temples and a pretty creek. Of course, we lingered there to enjoy the scene. There are wooden bridges criss-cross the creek bed, and a long boardwalk along the lower western side.
Actually, I should say that C is recovering from a leg injury, and limping, so he wanted to take it easy and rest a lot. He lead us to a small waterfall in a quiet area off the main trail where we settled in for a picnic before noon. I got impatient with that after about 30 minutes; besides, I was cooling down as the clouds gathered, the wind picked up and a slight rain began. I poked around the picnic scene and finally Y and J joined me.
C intended to continue the climb from there but there was no trail and I did not like the idea of climbing up a bare wet rock face and struggling through the brush all the way to the top, so I got J and Y to join me and return to the main trail so that we could climb to the summit. We three carried on and, as I had supposed, we never saw those guys again today, though they phoned us several times to update us.
The path we women took had many wooden and stone stairways. The sun reappeared, making the climb warm but glorious in the magnificent views of the city and sea below us. Y plodded along taking innumerable photos of leaves and trees. We also notice several spring flowers in bloom!
We reached the summit around 1:30, so I guess the climb from the picnic site took us one-and-a-half hours. Near the top were two stairways each with 365 steps. In fact, they were labeled as days of each month of the year, and the trail there named “365 healthy steps.” At last I got to see a 360 degree panoramic view from open summit. When I had been there before , several years ago, it was misty and very rainy. Muhak San is a huge mountain with a vast circumference. Its name means “white crane” for it is shaped like a crane with wings spread from east to west. I am glad we did not choose a more ambitious route, which would have taken several hours longer.
C called to report that they had reached the summit around the same time and were about to make the descent a little ahead of us. He wanted us to meet them at the flower festival grounds down at the harbor. We never found them again, though.
I took my friends down an alternate route where I had hike years before. I did not favour returning the same way we came, with all those stairs and big rocks, and I remembered that the other trails I had used before were a little easier without so many steps though steep. I was correct, but I got a bit disoriented on the lower sections. Some other hikers pointed us in the right direction and we made it back to our point of departure, legs exhausted but feeling good.
The guys called again wondering where we were. They were heading to the festival around that time too. After cleaning up, we gals went down to the highway to hail a taxi, which took some 15 to 20 minutes, but eventually got one that took us to the festival site. The guys called just as I was paying the driver and trying to get out of the taxi. They only gave a very general idea of where they were at the festival site.. We needed a more specific rendez-vous point because we could not find them.
Anyway, we wanted to look at the flower “sculptures” and displays and take lots of pictures while we still had sunlight. The displays were delightful. We soon exhausted what was left of our energy doing that and wandering around in search of the rest of our hiking party. At that point, we wanted to sit and have dinner and drink. We tried calling our pals, but the service was interrupted, so we looked for a place to eat. All we found were sidewalk stand with typical festival snack food. We had skewered barbecued chicken pieces and corn-on-the-cob, plus barbecued potato slices on sticks. It was good, though our resting place not that comfortable.
We decided to get a taxi to take us to back to the intercity bus terminal. Fortunately, there were buses going directly to our part of town. We were delayed by the bad traffic through the city, but made it home by around 7:30.