We kicked off our mountainbeering adventure Fonzie style, a.k.a. on two wheels. The mercury reading was high, the sun was shining, and about 15 km stood between us and Oeosa temple, so the open road beckoned us. Four of us doubled up on motorbikes, while Nick rode solo.
His 50 cc beast was working hard enough, although the roaring lawn mower-mimicking engine was barely noticeable. We had a general idea of our destination location, and relied on street signs to guide us further, but in fact, those signs led us directly to a dead end. Luckily, we soon located the detour rode and were able to squeeze our bikes past road barriers to get back on course. Sorted.
We knew we were close as we approached the standard string of Korean restaurants which adorn the bottom of most popular mountains. We twisted our way further up the path, and were
welcomed by a beautiful lake in front of the temple’s entrance. Who knew this lake was here!? A post-hike swim was an idea filed away for later.
The trailhead was an obvious path directly next to the tourist information booth at the edge of the parking lot, but what they both lacked was a trail map.
Ok, well let’s just head north (up).
(A group of teachers Mountainbeering wouldn’t be complete without a history lesson…)
Oeosa is translated as “My Fish Temple”. According to Korean legend, the name is derived from an incident when two monks were contesting Do Sul skills (a type of magic) for ultimate bragging rights.
The challenge required each of them to swallow a whole, live fish and then regurgitate it. The superior monk would produce a fish which was still alive. Both monks attempted the task, but only one of the two fish remained alive. As the lone live fish swam up the stream, each monk claimed it was “his” fish, and so the name Oeosa remains.
Shortly after passing the temple, we came upon a trail map! We chose the red path to the top which looked straight forward enough, and may be the reason nobody thought to take a picture of it. Gotta love hindsight. We set off on the trail, and met a series of unmarked forks
in the road, and occasionally backtracked after hitting a dead end. No big deal. We were in no hurry after all. We arrived at a clearing with a gorgeous view of the valley and the river running through it. Although we were sure this wasn’t the top, it seemed like an ideal place for a photo and a beer. Cheese!… Cheers!
We continued on, but not so much up, more like straight and down, so we were seriously starting to doubt the correctness of this trail. We stumbled upon a stagnant puddle of water filled with some huge slugs (or something) and an interesting toad with a red backside. Normally this wouldn’t be noteworthy, but wildlife sightings in Korea are rare, save for the occasional chipmunk.
Instead of reaching the peak, we descended to the bottom, more than once. We made an honest effort to conquer Unjaesan Mountain, but instead we walked the same trails about four times, and ended up on the other side of the mountain, at the bottom once again.
Since we’d ended up on a road, we figured we’d better just follow it. It was on this road that we once again found a trail map, but our current location was not marked, so the map proved to be about as useful as an inflatable dartboard(#5). However, we knew the parking lot was at a higher elevation than where we were currently standing, so uphill (north) seemed logical. And what a hill it was! A lengthy, steep incline that would surely reward us with firmer backsides.
Standing on the suspension bridge near the entrance, the earlier swimming idea was now at the forefront of our minds.
After a highly accurate rock depth test, Teagan took the plunge. Remember when your mother tested you with the question, “If your friend jumped off a bridge, would you?” Indeed, O’Malley would say, “as long as the water’s deep enough or I’m drunk enough”. ‘Twas the case (kind of both), so in he went.
Disapproving Koreans couldn’t deter Nick Kelly from joining the ranks either. Well done, men.
Bulgogi (Korean marinated barbecued beef) and fresh mountain vegetables, washed down with a couple beers, seemed like appropriate closure to today’s mountainbeering adventure.
And so it was. Riding off into the sunset would’ve been cool, but instead we rode away from the sunset back towards the whimsical smokestacks of POSCO.
Mountainbeerers: Patrick, Alissa, Teagan, Claire, and Nick.
Thanks to Alissa, Mountainbeering since 2011, for her write-up of yet another Korean Mountainbeering adventure!!