Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Summer Vacation in Korea: Apsan Park Perimeter Hike

Apsan Park: Perimeter Hike (Before you go, What to Expect, How to Survive)

There is a curious annotation at the bottom right hand corner of the Apsan Park Map: 18.4 km (printed in BLUE as if referring to the Ecological Trail that happens to wrap the entire perimeter of Apsan Park). How many MILES is that? Google says 11.433 miles. Here is an irresistible Daegu hiking challenge!

1. Pack Wisely

I have been conditioning with regular hikes at Apsan Park for a year. The average weekly hike is between 4-6 miles with lots of inclines/declines and stairs. I took my typical hiking packing list…then plus’d it up knowing the extra weight will require more from my endurance.
My packing list: 3 water bottles (20 fl oz each) of fresh water, high energy snacks (nuts, fruit, PBJ sandwich, vegan b’fast sausage patties, protein powder, lara bars, etc); bug repellant; sunscreen; first aid kit; toilet paper; map; cell phone & mobile battery pack; pen; sunglasses; sanitizer; smog mask; umbrella; wallet (ID, money, bus pass); battery-operated fan; and husband’s Garmin watch to GPS track my route and progress. Check your favorite SDOT, Artbox, or Daiso for the battery back and fan.

2. Dress properly

I have flat feet, so I must wear compression socks and arch supports in my hiking boots (otherwise I have pain). Tip: break in new shoes gradually before using them on a long hike. A sports bra and an actual sleeved shirt helps keep the backpack straps from rubbing. And a baseball cap helps to stay cool!

3. Review the Course

Even if you have a paper map (I don’t recommend attempting this course without a copy of the paper map on you!!), frequently review the board maps whenever you come across them. They are full of additional information like YOUR CURRENT LOCATION, vicinity attractions, and proximity to intersecting trails. This is important because it is quite easy to hike off of the BLUE trail onto a local tributary trail.

4. Look for & annotate Trail Markings

The Ecological Trail consists of Trail Markers 01-56 & Pine Cone Trail Markers ㅍㅏ6-1. The trail past 56 that connects to the Pine Cone Forest Trail is not marked on the map, but it does have Markers 8 (not 08) and 7 (not 07) on it. This trail is ADVANCED; not recommended for Beginner Hikers! Mild fatigue kept me from remembering what number I JUST saw, so I took pictures of each Marker as I hiked. Notes: Marker 00 is not on officially on the map but is still on the right trail.

5. Start the Hike where you want to Finish
Since I live along Sincheon Stream, I like to access Apsan Park from there under the Sangdonggyo Bridge to the trail that runs adjacent to the Dinosaur Path (Yongdu 1-gil). Markers 00-03 are here.

I like to exit at the same start location because this trail also has my favorite Tofu Restaurant. How is THAT for a motivator?!?
Stay to the left on the path adjacent to the Dinosaur Trail

6. Enjoy the Details of the Trail.
Wolgokji Pond
Imhiyu Temple

From Trail Markers 04-08, you will hear music being played over loud speakers (sometimes Classical; sometimes Korean Children’s Folk Songs). But not just ANY loudspeakers! Look closer. Speakers that are disguised as giant flies, beetles, or cicadas! Fun! Though it takes TIME to visit a temple, some are on breathtaking hilltops and worth the climb. Imhiyu Temple is an example of that. Or if a pitstop to explore the local watering hole is more your calling, Wolgoki Pond can be visited between Markers 55 and 56. Bring a net and empty container – I saw a field trip of Korean little kids doing it. So cute!

7. Pause a moment at the Free Art Exhibits

Both roving and permanent art exhibits pepper the park with beauty and charm. Some of the messages behind the art will surprise you. Every piece tells a story for sure! These are after Markers 03 and 36.

8. Drink from Mountain Springs & Encourage the Mountain Bikers

Pyeongan Mineral Water Springs
By FAR…my most favorite Apsan Park experience is drinking from the Pyeongan Mineral Water Springs. It is located between Markers 55 and 56 and can be accessed from any of the YELLOW Trail entrances in the Pyeongandonsan Hill, Dalbigol Valley (Markers 50-55), and Dalseo-gu Youth Training Center areas. Just expect a hike to get there!! Only the most determined of tourists get to drink from THIS SPRING! This refreshing spot is approximately 6 hours from the Dinosaur Trail.
(Insert Biking Video here)
Don’t forget to cheer on the Mountain Bikers when you see them. They are working EXTRA HARD just to have that adrenaline rush of that downhill. Not for me! That’s why I hike! Slow and steady.

9. Post the Results & Assess the Trail

I hate to fast-forward to the end, but everything after the Mineral Springs becomes an Advanced Hike. It becomes a constant climb of steep inclines, an anxious experience due to the vaguely marked Trail, and potentially unforgiving as it intersects with other vaguely marked trails leading to far off locations like Pa-Dong and O-Ri. Um…too far off-course! Recommend Beginner hikers enter at the different valley entrances to see all they want to see 4-6 miles at a time (2-3 miles out and back). It’s OKAY to train up for the Intermediate and Advanced Hikes!!

10. Eat the Victory Meal

Sweet and Sour Tofu

A Fresh Tofu House, 78 Bongduk-dong, Yongdu 1-gil, Nam-gu, Daegu
Finally! The reward meal. It doesn’t have to be Tofu as there are many wonderful (and wonderfully cheap) Korean Food restaurants once you exit the Dinosaur Path out the way I came in by the Sangdonggyo Bridge. This Sweet & Sour stir-fried Tofu Veggies dish comes family size for 6,000 won (white rice 1,000 won extra), so hike with a group or expect to take home leftovers!!
Your Turn!

Lovely Family Hike

Technically, the hike took 8 hours (7 am – 3 pm) with all my back-tracking to find Trail Markers, diversion to a beautiful Temple, and stop to drink mountain springs/eat my many snacks. Officially, the route really is 11.5 miles to be hiked at whatever pace you trained up for. Just be safe. Listen to your body. And keep your eyes OPEN to the beauty that is going on around you all the time!

Marker Number/Trail Highlight
00-08/Best for Families; 100% Stroller Friendly
00/Café SAN (Noodle & Dessert Café, opens at 8 am)
01/A Fresh Tofu House, other inexpensive Korean Restaurants, local Bakery open EARLY
02/Gosan-gol Public Parking Lot (fee applies), entrance to Dinosaur Path/Park
03/Art Display, Fitness Poles
04-08/Pedestrian Path winding back to alternate parking, Lamp Posts with Bug Loud Speakers
08/Alternate Dinosaur Park Parking, Entrance to Gangdanggol Valley Trail
09-19/Gangdanggol Valley Trail
19/Pull Up Bars, Stairway access to Eunjeoksa Temple (not part of Ecological Trail), Blessing Tiles fundraiser (write a prayer on the tile and it is prayed for on your behalf; tiles are left at Temple)
20/Apsan Cable Car (bottom location), Coffee Myungga Café, Mountain Gym at Trail Entrance, Apsan Main Park Entrance & Parking (off trail), Nakdong River Victory Monument Hall (off trail)
21-25/Okay for Families; Stroller possible with occasional steep pushes
24/Barefoot Experience
26/Entrance to Apsan Mountain’s base path, Memorial Monument & Parking Lot (off trail)
26-31/Okay for Families; Not Stroller Friendly
28/Fitness Poles
31/Large Mountain Gym, Grandfather Clock, Monkey Bars
32/Map from Anjiranggol Office, Restaurant, Parking Lot
33-50/Golangol & Maejagel Valleys, Okay for Families; Not stroller friendly
36/Sondae Art Exhibit
42/RV Camping Site (off trail)
44/Mountain Gym
50/Imhiyu Temple (off trail), Bridge Overpass to Dalseo-gu Youth Training Center (off trail)
51-56/Okay for Families; Entire route not stroller friendly (stairs, water hazards)
51/Wolgokji Pond
55/Pyeongan Mineral Water Springs
Everything after 56 (7 & 8) until Pine Cone Forest/ADVANCED
Pine Cone Forest 6-1 Trail (Descending)/ FINE for families; Not stroller friendly
Temple Alley/Adult Playground/Back to Dinosaur Path/Best for Families; 100% Stroller Friendly