Korea has made fall my new favorite season. The change in the colors of the trees is dramatic, and very different than any of the falls I experienced in California. Especially after having lived in San Diego for the past four years, which has very little difference between seasons, fall in Korea is particularly vibrant. So in trying to make the most of the colorful fall leaves before they disappear I have been hiking as much as possible. This weekend I took a trip with Seoul Hiking and Nature Group to 용문산 식당 to see the oldest and largest gingko tree in Korea and to summit the mountain.
The tree is estimated to be between 1100 and 1400 years old, and survived the complete destruction of the temple by the Japanese. Though most ginko trees are much smaller they are impressively resilient, and can grow in many different climates. Some ginko trees in Japan have even survived nuclear blasts.
The temple itself is very similar to other temples you see in Korea. Because most temples were destroyed by Japan the buildings that now stand are modern reconstructions of the original structures.
After exploring the temple we began our hike to the top of the mountain. The first part was flat and along a small river in the middle of the trees. Then we made our long, slippery ascent up through the clouds to the top of the mountain. I was too focused on not falling off the trail to take photos of the really steep parts, but this hike was not for the faint of heart.
We experienced all different kinds of weather while on the trail. It was sunny, then rainy, then foggy, and at the summit it even snowed for a little bit.
In total the hike took us about 6 hours, and we finished our trip with some bibimbop and makkoli to warm us up before the bus ride back. Hiking the rain made the fall colors especially bright, but I would like to hike the mountain again to see the views from the summit. Hopefully I'll be back in the winter to make it to the top when the trail is covered in snow!