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From Seoul Land to Jamsil, the hard way

The route is simple. The easy way is to take the subway, and according to an online calculator, it takes 30mins and 1250Won and you feel lethargic and unhealthy after the trip. Let me show you another way, about 6 hours, free apart from some bananas, powerbars and 2 litres of water and plenty of patience. In return you will get some nice sceneries and fresh air. With all the nice mountains around Seoul, there's no excuse not to do it the old fashion way.

Other more reputable sites will tell you what is in Seoul Land. I've only been to the zoo and only because it was free that day. Will it be a surprise if I said there are animals there? In confined spaces. With plenty of noisy kids. Discovering that there are no birds to fling on catapults. So collect yourself at the carpark, run up Cheonggyesan 청계산 due east, come down where Dallaenae-ro 달래내로 meets the expressway, and then crossing some shops and farms, proceed up the second mountain Inneungsan 인릉산 and end up somewhere in Seongnam, close to the airbase and then run along the river up north to Jamsil. 

I love the Ambit. I had it recording at 1s intervals. I've used it up to 10 hours before, so the battery should be alright for this trip. 

I love the Ambit. I had it recording at 1s intervals. I've used it up to 10 hours before, so the battery should be alright for this trip. 

Map of the entire trip plotted on a map from Google.

Map of the entire trip plotted on a map from Google.

For this trip, I took a backpack with some emergency kit and wore a Suunto Ambit. The screenshot above is what was recorded for the trip. The plots are quite rough but it should be able to hack together a plan for the trip. I find that the best map to use if you had a phone with you would be Daum or Naver since they have the map of the trails. Be aware that the maps are not entirely accurate, sometimes there are sub-path along the way that was created recently. Sometimes they are parallel paths and sometimes it looks like a whole mob went for a shit together and created a new path. 

Section 1: Seoul Land to Gyeongbu Expressway

Section 1: Seoul Land to Gyeongbu Expressway

Now, to trace the path, take a metro to Seoul Land. Walk due south across the large car park, and run up to a slope where the cars enter and right behind the guard house there is a small path that branches out to the right. I didn't find it in the beginning. The first time I took this route I bashed myself out of the jungle using another path. This new one is more "official". What happens is that you walk along a nice concrete path till you get to an area that looks like an exercise area, but is actually the start of the trail, up the ridge of the hill which you will follow, and go uphill all the way to Cheonggyesan. For those that are a little more macho than others, you might want to try and run here, but I don't think you will last the first small hill. There are a few peaks here, the flatter ones happen to all have helipads on them, but the tallest peak for this trip (where the Cheonggyesan icon is on the map above, has a stone landmark, and of course, a stall selling alcohol. Like most others on this route. 

Guardhouse just next to Seoul Land car park, you will need to go up a small uphill road to see it

Guardhouse just next to Seoul Land car park, you will need to go up a small uphill road to see it

Behind the guardhouse

Behind the guardhouse

And it goes uphill from here. But this is the easy part.

And it goes uphill from here. But this is the easy part.

I would say it is a nice cool day today, plenty of hikers, no way to get bored. But I only saw one person running this trail today. And it would be me. 

I would say it is a nice cool day today, plenty of hikers, no way to get bored. But I only saw one person running this trail today. And it would be me. 

First of many temporary trail stores selling rice wine and tidbits

First of many temporary trail stores selling rice wine and tidbits

This section goes around one of the lower peaks before Cheonggyesan. I didn't run here because the terrain was steep and there was a little traffic jam. The trail is wide enough for one row in most places. 

This section goes around one of the lower peaks before Cheonggyesan. I didn't run here because the terrain was steep and there was a little traffic jam. The trail is wide enough for one row in most places. 

Running is fine here, but beware the rocks. This is close to one of the lower peaks, you can tell because the trees here look like they have been battered by strong winds more than once in their lifetime. 

Running is fine here, but beware the rocks. This is close to one of the lower peaks, you can tell because the trees here look like they have been battered by strong winds more than once in their lifetime. 

First of 3 or 4 helipads that I will see today

First of 3 or 4 helipads that I will see today

This is the toughest part of the hike, not too dangerous. Relatively speaking. 

This is the toughest part of the hike, not too dangerous. Relatively speaking. 

Time for a banana break. And yes, I do recommend hiking poles. Uphill they do help transfer some of the load to your hands and provide the 3 point contact for stability, and running downhill they help with balance and you can slalom like skiing. 

Time for a banana break. And yes, I do recommend hiking poles. Uphill they do help transfer some of the load to your hands and provide the 3 point contact for stability, and running downhill they help with balance and you can slalom like skiing. 

Not sure if these electronic turnstiles are working. There was only one set that I encountered. It could be for counting hikers. 

Not sure if these electronic turnstiles are working. There was only one set that I encountered. It could be for counting hikers. 

And finally the peak. Actually this is Isubong 이수봉 peak and not Cheonggyesan. Who cares, Cheonggyesan is not on the way for today anyway. And it is all downhill from here.  

And finally the peak. Actually this is Isubong 이수봉 peak and not Cheonggyesan. Who cares, Cheonggyesan is not on the way for today anyway. And it is all downhill from here.  

Probably the nicest route for the day, Azaleas in full bloom. 

Probably the nicest route for the day, Azaleas in full bloom. 

Signs of civilisation after Cheonggyesan

Signs of civilisation after Cheonggyesan

End of part 1

End of part 1

Part 2: Inneungsan Trek

Part 2: Inneungsan Trek

Once I get to Gyeonbu Expressway, shops start to appear. This is a good place to refill your water, but then it will not be a free trek anymore. Up to you. You know your limits. This is also where you can pick up some outdoor gears, some discount shops or outlets are here, and of course if you want to hang around like the locals, you can have some barbecue and alcohol after a long hike. I didn't have too much time to stop, and I still had more than half a tank of water in my camelbak mainly because I have been drinking off two bottles of water on the side of my backpack. Still feeling strong, I walked through the village, I don't have the name of the village, but relied on Daum Maps on my iPhone to get me through to the next trail head for Inneungsan. On the map it does look like this second mountain is longer trek than the first. 

Going under the Gyeongbu Expressway

Going under the Gyeongbu Expressway

Navigating using Daum Maps

Navigating using Daum Maps

iPhones are useful, but since you don't want to keep it on all the time for battery drain, compass like this makes a lot of sense if you know which direction you should be moving. 

iPhones are useful, but since you don't want to keep it on all the time for battery drain, compass like this makes a lot of sense if you know which direction you should be moving. 

After crossing village houses, and farms, I finally get to the trail head for Inneungsan. This trail is a little less popular, and I wouldn't see many people at least for the first hour. It goes through a rural road so a map is important or you will probably never find the path. I've been here before so I have a bit of photographic memory left. 

After crossing village houses, and farms, I finally get to the trail head for Inneungsan. This trail is a little less popular, and I wouldn't see many people at least for the first hour. It goes through a rural road so a map is important or you will probably never find the path. I've been here before so I have a bit of photographic memory left. 

The start is easy enough, more foliage than Cheonggyesan, and quite obvious that the trail is less used since it is narrower and also less of the soil shows through. All along the way there are barb wires splitting the ridge into two, and on the other side is army territory it seems.

The start is easy enough, more foliage than Cheonggyesan, and quite obvious that the trail is less used since it is narrower and also less of the soil shows through. All along the way there are barb wires splitting the ridge into two, and on the other side is army territory it seems.

Did I just mentioned military?

Did I just mentioned military?

And another one. In fact there are lot of them around this mountain. 

And another one. In fact there are lot of them around this mountain. 

Inneungsan peak. A helipad.

Inneungsan peak. A helipad.

This was after the peak and it was downhill for at least an hour or more. I ran most of the way downhill, but around here I could feel my lower back starting to call out from fatigue. 

This was after the peak and it was downhill for at least an hour or more. I ran most of the way downhill, but around here I could feel my lower back starting to call out from fatigue. 

Once you get to a clearing turn to the first left and you'll cross this grave site. Right after that you're back to reality. And it is Seoul again once more. I didn't take too many photos on this mountain precisely because once you have been running 4 hours everything gets boring . 

Once you get to a clearing turn to the first left and you'll cross this grave site. Right after that you're back to reality. And it is Seoul again once more. I didn't take too many photos on this mountain precisely because once you have been running 4 hours everything gets boring . 

Through a village at the end of the trail

Through a village at the end of the trail

Section 3: From Seongnam to Jamsil - on road

Section 3: From Seongnam to Jamsil - on road

It was a relief to get to the area called Sinchon-dong close to Seongnam. But the best part of the trek is behind me now, and the rest of the way would be just running on pavements and breathing carbon monoxide. What you enjoyed for the last 20km is now going to be given up in the 10km run to Jamsil from here.

Yawn. At Sinchon-dong going up through Segok-dong.

Yawn. At Sinchon-dong going up through Segok-dong.

Crossing the river towards Garak Market

Crossing the river towards Garak Market

Garak Market, now this would be a nice place to stop for a meal, but I have other plans. 

Garak Market, now this would be a nice place to stop for a meal, but I have other plans. 

Incidentally this is where I stopped recording my Ambit tracks. Time for some cargo loading after a long run. Legs are tired. But the mind is refreshed. 

Incidentally this is where I stopped recording my Ambit tracks. Time for some cargo loading after a long run. Legs are tired. But the mind is refreshed. 

So till another adventure...