After reaching the top of Soyosan, or near enough, I figured I was finished with the mountain.
As it turned out, the mountain wasn’t finished with me.
The day before Thanksgiving, there was a snowstorm in Dongducheon that dropped a couple of inches of white fluff across the countryside. My team had Thanksgiving Day off, and I was curious to see how the snow had changed the scenery along the Soyosan Mountain trail, so I bundled up and set off about 7 am on Thanksgiving morning to take a look.
I wasn’t foolish enough to even consider trying for the crest with wind chill and ice added to the challenge. Jajaeam Temple would be far enough.
The sun rose into clearing skies, and I found the trail transformed by its dusting of snow. Everything looks better with a little frosting, and the mountains of Korea are no exception. The snow was wet enough to cling to the trees and feed a little more life into the stream that bordered the path uphill. Monuments looked more impressive, caves and grottos seemed more mysterious, and the temple itself felt more hushed and tranquil. Click on the photos for a better view.
It was a nice walk, and some consolation for a Thankgiving spent half a world away from my family. There were only a few other people on the trail, but everybody seemed extra cheery, even though Thanksgiving isn’t on the Korean holiday calendar.
As I approached Jajaeam Temple, something interesting happened. I was passing by a metal framework I had thought was construction scaffolding when one of the monks came motoring along it in a little chair. The contraption was a one-man monorail train that ran from the temple along the mountainside to a waterfall and shrine further down the mountain. It was propelled by a tiny gasoline engine and, I suppose, a healthy ration of faith. I saw the monk again later, sweeping snow from the trail in a steep spot where he’d spread a cloth tarp to aid hikers’ traction on the ice.
As for the temple itself, and its adjoining waterfall, they were as enchanting as I expected. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.