Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Korea in Winter Day 9: Hiking Mount Kalsan and Skiing Alpensia

Last night when Daddy went to sleep, he had no idea that he would climb a mountain in the morning. Some of the best moments in life are those that were not supposed to be.

Daddy woke up this morning unable to go back to sleep due to some unusual aches and soreness. There were still hours before the group arranged to meet up for lunch as we all went to bed past midnight. Everyone was still sound asleep when he left the apartment at 9am for an easy stroll around Alpensia Town.

Just below the Ski Jump Tower, a signboard caught his eye. A large map with some walking trails indicated suggested that just about 2.5 kilometres north through the forested hills was the peak of Mount Kalsan. It didn't seem like an unrealistic target to shoot for and it was a promising opportunity to take interesting pictures. The weather forecast was fair and soon, Daddy found himself bounding up the undulating trail.

Wooden stairs marked the entry to the hiking trail.

Signboards marked the trail at regular intervals.

Some parts of the trail are covered with snow and ice. There were intermittent gusts of wind that made the trail somewhat colder than the -4 degrees Celcius indicated by the weatherman.

It was a priviledge to be alone with nature. There was not a soul on the trail this morning.

This banner and a safety line with 'Danger' spelt out in various languages on it, informing hikers not to stray from the trail as the area is undergoing renovation works, using demolition, in preparation for Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics. 

Parts of the trail were lined with what appeared to be an electric fence.

A steep section of the trail littered with loose boulders meant that I won't be bringing kids and family here for an easy stroll tomorrow.

There were guide rope to mark out the hardest and steepest parts of the trail, and they were helpful for maintaining my balance too.

To the ski jump

About an hour later, Daddy was not quite at the peak but a wrong turn and an extra kilometre put him on another peak nearby. There was time for some photos before back tracking the route.

View of Alpensia Ski Resort from the top. You can see the ski jump tower on the left and mountains beyond the resort.

Snow on the forest floor and going down the north face of the peak.

A wind farm some distance away.

There was time on the return walk for a detour to check out the ski jump tower. Tourists were also arriving in private vans, taxis and buses to enjoy the view from the tower. There is an observatory on the highest floor and visitors were queuing up for the lift.

The walk back down the peak had stretches where it was rocky and easy to turn an ankle, but there was a helpful guide rope along the steepest parts of the trail to maintain balance.

Approaching the entry to the trail, there was a short detour that brought Daddy to the base of the ski jump tower.

There was an observation deck at the base of the tower to watch ski jumping during the height of the winter season. There was renovation works going on, and it did not look like it was in operation now.

View of Alpensia Town from level 1 of the ski jump tower.

The ski jump tower from the entry to the hiking trail.

When Daddy met us past noon for lunch, it was evident from the blush on his cheeks and slur in his speech that it was cold up in the mountains this morning. Perhaps it would have been a little more comfortable if he went prepared, but then would it be as exciting?

Lunch was at another traditional Korean eatery at the ground floor of block 103. We bought tickets for gear rental and were back on the slopes by 2.30pm. Instead of a formal lesson, the kids revised what they learnt from last night and it was good to see the making progress while enjoying themselves.

Yong Woo Dong had a traditional Korean setting, but most of the dishes here were served with rice or noodles, with only a small selection of traditional Korean soups.

Prices were quite reasonable for a holiday resort.

Dragon Noodles.

Spicy soup with meat, vegetables and rice.

Large Dumplings with ddokpokki soup.


Heading out to the ski slopes again.

The slopes were crowded and it was a challenge for us novices to establish a clear path down without crashing into a fellow skier.

The kids were giving their dad a private tutoring lesson based on what they learnt last night.

The gear rental for the afternoon session ended at 4.30pm and once the time was up, the Ski House suddenly became packed with skiers returning their gear. We opted to return to our rooms to warm up for a while before getting something to eat.

Tonight the kids will have a mini sleepover. I wonder how it will turn out. If they get carried away and sleep late, we will have another late start to the day tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

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