Sunday, January 16, 2011

Hallasan in the Fall

One day in late October, I hiked up Halla Mountain.  I've been up Hallasan before in the fall, but never up the Gwaneumsa trail to the top.  The fall colors were absolutely incredible and the best I've ever seen on Jeju.  With an elevation of 1950m (~6000ft) the fall colors move up the mountain in stages.  It seemed from the start, that the colors were past their prime, they had mostly fallen to the ground.  However, as I got to the mid-mountain shelter, the leaves showed their brilliance.  Mixed in with the evergreens on the upper slopes, was an extravagant tapestry.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Winter away from Jeju

It's wintertime!  Koreans love to tell you that they have 사철 (sa-cheol), or four seasons.  Although Jeju is the furthest south point in Korea, and also an island, it is no exception to the four seasons.  Wintertime in Jeju can be cold.  Although the daytime temperature in the cities rarely dips below zero due to the maritime climate, the wind often blows which makes it feel much colder than it is.  Also, the houses and buildings aren't well insulated as well as higher energy prices than we North Americans are used to, makes for a bitter winter... even indoors.  People often wear their parkas and down jackets indoors at work and at school.

The winters can be cold in Jeju, but they are also beautiful.  It usually snows a few times in the city, and snows often at the summit of Hallasan.  The hiking is best in the winter, especially on a bluebird day.  The humidity of the ocean leaves a beautiful rime coating (frost) on the trees.  You can get some spikes to strap onto your boots or sneakers and hike to the top in your normal winter clothing.  

I've left Jeju for winter vacation.  I went home to see my family in Indiana for Christmas, and I'm now working at Powder Mountain Ski Area, Utah on the ski patrol.  I'll be here until the end of February and then head back to Jeju. 

In the meantime, I've been pretty slow on updating the blog this year, so this winter I'll go through the archives and put up some random pictures and stories about life in Jeju.