I've tried to get more information about Gyubongam Temple online, but there really isn't a great deal floating around. I found out that it could be accessed on one of Mudeungsan's hiking routes. It is marked on Naver Maps, which is incredibly handy unless you can't read Korean, so I've uploaded a map of all the hiking routes on Mudeungsan which has details in both English and Korean.
|View of Gyubongam from the valley|
Gyubong from above (Daum Maps)
Seeing Gyubongam from down in the valley really fired up my enthusiasm to go and find it. A temple situated way up on the mountain surrounded by glorious rock formations with views across a mountainous landscape - I had to hike up there ASAP.
I set off from Chonnam National University and saw the sun rise behind Mudeungsan as I passed the athletics track. It was a Tuesday, but I didn't have to start work until 3pm. I had decided to cycle out to Sansun Ogeori where I would take the 1187 bus up to Wonhyosa.
When you get off at the final stop don't walk up towards Wonhyosa! Go towards Mudeung Park Office and head past all of the restaurants.
After you have passed the restaurants turn left. I made the mistake of turning right and ended up hitting a dead end. I had to cross the river and hike up through dense bushes for 10 mins before I found the path.
The first stage of the hike is entirely uphill though forest.
From Ggomakjae the hike gets much more easygoing. It's all pretty mellow from here with the exception of a few rocky patches.
The first frost of the season. I've never seen ice crystals like this before.
This is the first view east from Mudeungsan as you come out of the forest for a little while.
There are several advantages to doing this hike early in the morning. Firstly, there are almost no other hikers around at this time of the day, which is bliss and shouldn't be taken for granted. Solitude is a rare thing when hiking in Korea. Secondly, the mountains in the distance fade away in these fantastic shades of blue like a watercolour painting. Within a couple of hours this view completely changes. The shades of blue vanish and the mountains become a lot more detailed and clearer.
The is the view of Gwangju Lake from up on Mudeungsan.
These are the valleys that we cycled through on the "The Mudeungsan Beast Loop".
I could hear the monk chanting as I approached Gyubong Temple. It must have been around 10am as I got near. He carried on for almost the entire time that I spent up there.
This is the coolest dog on the planet. Full stop. There was a cat lurking around amongst the rocks behind the temple as well. Keep you eyes peeled!
|"Look Mum! I'm up a Mountain!"|
I finally set off back down the mountain at 11:20am.
It took me just over 2 hours to hike up to Gyubongam Temple and about 1 hour 15 minutes to get back down to the Park Office. I took the same route to head back down. If I did it again I would probably loop back round the mountain
Gyubongam Temple faces east so it gets all of the morning sunshine. In the future I'd like to do a full day of hiking on Mudeungsan: spend the morning around Gyubong and then loop round to the west side of the mountain at around midday following the sunshine.