The Cloud Bridge

Gureumdari Footbridge, also known as the Cloud Bridge, is located in Wolchulsan National Park. The park is just outside the little city of Yeongam in Jeollanam-do. The Cloud Bridge is just one of the many sites to see within the park. There are also temples, waterfalls, and many trails to choose from that lead to various peaks; Cheonhwangbong Peak being the highest, sitting at 809 meters.

So, on the snowy morning of January 14, Kim Dong-jin and I set out for Wolchulsan National Park at the rather brisk hour of seven o’clock from the U-square Bus Terminal. After about an hour and twenty minutes of travel, we arrived at the quaint little bus terminal in Yeongam. We had time to relax before heading out to the park because our next bus was not leaving until nine. At the convenience store, we picked up some light snacks to bring with us and enjoyed the warmth inside. When the time finally came to board the other bus, we had begun to feel a bit skeptical about the adventure ahead of us. The weather did not look to be the best for hiking, but we were not going to turn around so easily, so, we got inside and hoped for the best on the short ride from the terminal.

As the driver dropped us off at the Cheonhwangsa parking lot entrance and waved goodbye with a rather concerned look on his face, he wished us luck and advised that if at any time we felt that the trail was too dangerous, we should turn around immediately. I considered his words carefully, but I am a rather stubborn person. On the walk up to the start of the trail, it seemed like we were the only crazy ones out hiking this early in the morning, and in the middle of a little snowstorm no less. Soon enough, however, we met a large group of hikers who seemed both eager, and also like us, a bit worried of what the hike ahead of us would hold. Nonetheless, the trek to the bridge began.

We started up together with the other group, putting down the first footprints into the soft, snowy trail. Soon, we separated from them as Dong-jin and I were engrossed in taking photographs of the beautiful scenery. The trail was actually not bad at all and soon other hikers started to appear behind us. Reaching the bridge was a trek — especially climbing up all the stairs — but when we finally arrived, the view was amazing. Shouts of excitement from the other hikers echoed to the ones far below the bridge that lies 120 meters up, connecting two mountain peaks. My first steps on the bridge felt a bit weird because I could feel it shifting at every step the other hikers took. It was quite an interesting feeling. Dong-jin and I enjoyed the view for as long as we could in the snowfall, but then the cold wind arrived, encouraging us to head back.

In just two hours up and an hour back down, we were able to complete our journey to Cloud Bridge. Though this is only the second national park I have been to in South Korea, I think it will always be my favorite, as well as the most memorable, because of the adventure it turned out to be. I know we will be back again to conquer Cheonhwangbong Peak and to see the numerous other sites that Wolchulsan has to offer.

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