At 22.9km, Trail 4 is the longest of all the Jeju Olle trails. It starts with a long walk along the coastal road until you hit the Marine Corps Trail, a sort of dirt track with traction matting underneath. About halfway through, you cut inland towards a mid-sized oreum before heading back down to a cold spring and a Buddhist temple. Then you finish off with a seemingly interminable 9km walk into Namwon.
For summertime hiking, the oreum placement is unfortunate. Even at a good clip, it’s about 3 hours into the hike, so you’re stuck climbing it in peak heat. We had a cloudy day, but it still felt like a steam bath. Our shirts were soaked through with sweat, and both of us were practically chugging water in an effort to replace what we lost through perspiration. (We also went through salted seaweed packets like there was no tomorrow; salt intake is an important part of hydration!)
Big disappointment on the cold spring, which was all dried up due to the lackluster rainy season. We’d been hoping to cool off with a nice swim, even had these fantastic pictures of a flowing stream nestled in an idyllic forest glade. Nope. When we got there, the spring was a series of stone enclosures quarter-filled with murky brown water. Oh well; we took a quick rest in a pavilion by the temple as a consolation prize before continuing on.
To compound the perversity of Trail 4, we decided that given the cloudy weather we could push on a bit further after the end. 3km in, we stumbled upon an awesome guesthouse: Mr. Paul and Hand Drip Coffee (yes, this was the name, as evinced by their business card!) Mr. Paul is the super-friendly owner; he drove us over to the nearest supermarket so we could cook up a delicious stirfry of squash, mushrooms, and tofu. We even got some kimchee and maekli to round out the meal; this last, we drank Korean-style out of metal bowls. Not only that, but they have a laundry machine – which means we can start tomorrow with clean (if somewhat damp) clothing!