A bit behind but as Titus Livius stated, “Better late than never.” I went to Seoraksan National Park toward the end of October when the fall foliage displayed its spectrum of colors. Red, orange, yellow, gold….these warm tones highlighted every scene your eyes, camera or footstep set upon as we traipsed through the woods and back again. Waterfalls fell like miniature rivers and the fog enveloped us at the summit of Ulsanbawi after a 3 hour climb. Like a job well done, we felt this trek deserved some type of accolade and what better way to celebrate our first hike of the season than by treating ourselves to some of the finer foods Korea has to offer. Trust me, given Korea’s culinary feats, this decision made our hike appear easy.
Fall + Seoraksan = people to the nth degree. Seoraksan National Park was a maze of foreigners, tourists and natives. Shoulder to shoulder, I felt like I’d landed in an outdoor mall and we were all racing from sale to sale to buy the best photograph. Ajima’s, ajashee’s and parents with children strapped to their back managed the crowds with grace. Having hiked a bit, and witnessed some spectacular scenary in Maine, Thailand and the west coast of Ireland, I’d never seen the mass of people like that Saturday-the hordes resembled bees swarming toward honey as the queen drove them onward.
Though the climb did not allow any of us to meditate in isolation, the comraderie and movitation filled our souls with a natural high that would’ve tempted any soju drinker (many drink this rice-based alcohol to combat any fear on the trek, usually the descent). Rock-climbers were seen in the distance, the vista appeared as a paint by number and when we reached the top, though the clouds absorbed our view, we fell silently happy. There wasn’t a need to shout or exclaim excitement. Smiles spread and by the expression on our face, we all shared the same thought – when can we do this again?