This was worth waking up early for.
Beads of moisture dripped off crisp green pine needles and orange leaves making their last stand against the impending winter. A deep fog clung to the air, muting but in no way diminishing the beauty of the surrounding landscape.
I was at the base of Namhansanseong fortress on a cool, misty morning, and 9:30 am in Korea is plenty early enough to beat the crowds.
I made the journey to the fortress with Yeonsoon (U.S.), who I’d met, incidentally, while walking near my house a few weekends earlier. We didn’t have the whole fortress to ourselves, but it nearly felt that way. It was a refreshing change to linger and take photos whenever the mood struck us. And the mood struck frequently. Despite the gloomy day, the trail was bright with rich green pine trees, blazing orange leaves, and dying golden grasses.
Namhansanseong station is located southeast of central Seoul, along the pink #8 line. US drove, but I noticed several numerous buses making the journey to the fortress itself for those interested in seeing the place for themselves (I do highly recommend it, and it is a popular hike year round!) The hike itself takes around 2-3 hours, and is a nice moderate course- no scrambling over rocks like I did a couple of months ago at Bukhansan!
One thing US said really stuck with me. He is involved in a photography Meetup group that gets together once a month to photograph Namhansanseong fortress. What better way to document and appreciate the changing of the seasons? I’ve watched muggy, summery days slowly grow cooler. Forests have exploded with colour as leaves begin their slow decay into winter. Rains have become less and less frequent. Rather than providing welcome relief from the heat, they now offer a nice excuse to stay inside and cozy up with a cup of tea and a book.
Afterwards, we had an excellent lunch at the base of the fortress- pajeon (green onion and seafood pancake), and sonbundu (soft tofu eaten with a less-typical variety of kimchi, and rice). And of course, don’t forget the makgeolli 😉 No middle-aged Korean hiking enthusiast would!