Adventures of an American Seoul-Sister

Adventures and Observations of an American Seoul-Sister

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fall and Falling

For the past couple of weekends, I've gone hiking in nearby Woraksan National Park.  It's a beautiful, but small (by American standards) mountain range forested with deciduous trees such as japanese maple and ginko.  The display of fall colors was wonderfully reminiscent of my New England childhood.  Full of reds, yellows, and oranges, the trees dropped leaves like a ticker tape parade. 

The hikers were many.  In Korea, it's en vogue to get decked out in the lastest, top-of-the-line hiking gear when visiting a mountain, regardless of how far or long you plan to hike.  Also, it doesn't hurt to have a ski pole or two for use as hiking sticks.  I was sadly underdressed in my jeans, rainbow sweater, and worn-out sneakers.

At the foot of the hill stands an ancient shrine called Mireuk-ri.  Having been to this shrine before, I knew it was worth seeing again before heading uphill.  You can see pics of this shrine in my past post "Rainy Day Woman."

The last time I visited Woraksan, four of us hiked up the mountain, following a well-worn and wide path through the trees.  It was incredibly easy to reach the first summit, so we decided to move along to the next peak.  Here the trail got a bit tricky.  We had to topple over loose boulders, and then, the trail stopped, and we were left to grapple up a suddenly-steep mountain side.  Slipping on fallen leaves, and falling on our asses got to be too much, so we turned back.  Heading down the mountain was just as sketchy, to say the least.  Let's just say, the leaves weren't the only things falling.  At random steps, our feet would give way and send us sliding at alarming rates down the near-cliff-like mountain.

On the way back down, we met of group of middle-aged Korean hikers who insisted on sharing their tangerines and makoli (rice wine).  By this time, we surely needed it!  We all grinned stupidly at each other for a while (mostly oblivious to each others' languages), took a couple of photos, then continued back down the trail.  Having made it past the most treachorous terrain, we were able to slow down and enjoy the breath-taking fall colors. 

I most have snapped a hundred photos trying to do photographic justice to the fall colors.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed the real thing.

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