Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jeju Island Adventures: Seongsan Ilchulbong (Sunrise Rock)

Getting started hiking up the peak, visible behind me.

Our first full day on Jeju Island, we planned to hike Korea's largest mountain, the volcanic mount Halla in the center of Jeju that pretty much makes up the island. However, our plans were thwarted by gathering storms around the peak (though the rest of Jeju was clear and beautiful, Halla was surrounded by storms--apparently the summit is only visible about one day in 10, so this is not terribly uncommon). Instead, we hopped in our trusty rental Kia, Fred, and drove out to the eastern side of the mountain to another famous lava crater peak, Seongsan Ilchulbong, known as "Sunrise Peak" because of it's eastern location. Although we were now several hours after sunrise (at about 8 a.m.), we were still happy to explore and climb this beautiful area.

The views of the sea and surrounding fields as we climbed were spectacular.

Ilchulbong was formed by fairly recent (meaning only 100,000 years old) volcanic eruptions. It rises dramatically out of the sea and connects to the main part of Jeju by a narrow strip of land on which sits the fishing village of Seongsan.

Min Gi at the top of the crater's edge.

At the top of the peak, there is a huge bowl-shaped crater, grown over with many various plants unique to these crater ecosystems of Jeju. The ecosystem in Jeju's Hallasan crater is carefully protected. Also, it is very, VERY windy at the peak.

The crater at the top of Ilchulbong, flooded with the morning light.

After climbing down from the small mountain, we rested in a cove with a haenyo, or the famous Jeju women divers (more to come about them), restaurant and launching site. There were no haenyo to be found, but we enjoyed the peaceful scenery and clear water.

Side of Ilchulbong, from Haenyo Jip area.

With a great start to our first full day on the island, we'd already decided that when we return to Korea, we should seriously consider making this place our home. See the rest of the photos from Ilchulbong:

Ilchulbong -- Jeju Island

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