Odae-san National Park
Bian-gil, Daegwalnyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon-do, South Korea
vibrant morning palette--autumn in the mountains of Pyeongchang...scenes from a morning in the midst of autumn's palette in Odae-san National Park: steam ascending from temple breakfast fires at sunrise, climbing up through maples and pungent gingkoes, happening upon a folk-painting of a tiger on a trail-side shrine...
I'd tagged along with my uncle as he drove from Seoul to the mountains along the east coast of Korea. We were going to pick up my aunt, who'd just spent a week-long retreat at Sang-won-sa, a "Seon" ('Zen' in Korean) temple established in the year 643. While they spent the morning around the grounds, I went for a hike.
This national park, near the site of the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, is dotted with Buddhist sites established in the 6th and 7th centuries. (Odae-san is one of Korea's 'holy mountains.') During the fall, the temple's vibrant architecture blends in perfectly with the forested slopes; the colors of the folk-paintings seem to spring from the mountains themselves.