We took an impromptu rest day in Chukkung because we were so tired. We made a deal that Steve could pay for internet to watch the latest Game of Thrones episode on his phone and I could take a hot shower (they were the same price lol). The next day was clear and sunny – perfect for our Chukkung Ri hike. We woke up and had a leisurely breakfast at our guesthouse with some fellow travelers before setting off on the trail. The path was supposedly easy to find because the village was not too big so we felt confident we would be able to figure it out. We headed off with a few other hikers not far behind and picked up the trail after passing the last guesthouse in the village. We walked alongside a small creek that began to widen and gather momentum. Sharp bramble-type plants that we had not encountered before caught on the fabric of our pants as we walked the narrow path up the hill along the growing river. After about 15 minutes, the two other hikers behind us caught up as we stopped to evaluate the way forward. They were also heading up Chukkung Ri. They had followed us but said the trail was supposed to have a small foot bridge at the beginning and that we should probably be walking up the other side of the river. They decided to cross the gushing river to look for the path and eventually gave us a wave of confirmation that we were indeed on the wrong side.
So, what to do? Steve decided to find a narrower area and use the rocks to cross but I was slightly more skeptical. My stride is not as long and some of the rocks looked too far apart for my comfort! I was also getting stuck in the brambles since there was no real path on the banks of the river. In the end, I backtracked all the way to the beginning and low and behold…a foot bridge over the creek! That misstep added a good chunk of time to our hike. From there it was pretty straightforward because the path was much wider on that side. It was also sandy, which surprised us.
From there, we headed up. Throughly the day, we learned that Chukkung Ri has a few false summits. Just when we reached a crest and were ready to celebrate, the trail would continue and up we’d go. Finally, we reached a plain with cairns made by previous hikers and we could see the summit. We knew we almost there because a number of other hikers were already coming down and cheered us on. The final stage was very steep and felt like an endless number of switchbacks up the hill. This was the hardest hike for me because of the steep slope. I felt like I had to stop every few steps to catch my breath. I will always remember the feeling of finally reaching the top!
Finally, we were rewarded with 360 degree views of the mountains around us and a glacial lake. Well worth the extra effort and a very enjoyable hike all around!