Mt. Taebaek Snow Festival

After boarding the coach during the wee hours in Seoul, we started our four hour journey. One by one we introduced ourselves to start the bonding process between members. After all, we were spending the whole weekend together. 


We made our way to explore the cave instead of heading directly to the snow festival first. Tickets were bought for touring and most members squeezed onto a small shuttle bus like clowns in a circus show. Others stayed behind five minutes for the next available, and more spacious, bus. The entrance to the cave was shelved with plenty of white hard hats. These were more for safety purposes and less for esthetics as there were many crouching tiger moments while exploring the cave.  So, heed the signs
. watch your head! When the bright light appeared at the end of the tunnel, everyone tore off their extraordinarily hot hats only to display a sad array of hat-head syndrome. Most then hopped onto the shuttle bus, went back to the starting point, and engaged in a friendly and yet surprisingly competitive snow fight while awaiting the remainder of the group. Then, off to the festival we went!


Once parked, Adventure Korea members trekked with excitement to the festival. Although the walk was two kilometers away, it was prime time to get to know fellow members further.  Before separating for time to enjoy the artistic displays, everyone posed in front of an impressive temple ice sculpture for a group photo. Then, two hours of free time commenced! Time spent was balanced between posing with ice sculptures ranging from Spiderman to famous Asian characters to the Smurfs, a museum with an impressive range of coal, eating delicious traditional hot snacks, or sledding for those who wanted a quick adrenaline rush. Then we all regrouped and headed to our quaint accommodations. After settling into our rooms, we eagerly headed to the restaurant for the scrumptious supper and then enjoyed a few beers and swapped stories with new friends before retiring for the night.


Breakfast was served early in the morning. Afterwards, most members jumped onto the bus prepared to hike up the snowy mountain with cleats, while only a few stayed behind to sleep off the over indulgences from the night before. The hike up was not difficult technically but it was definitely challenging and exhilarating to boot! Those who were tall were faced with the dilemma of whether to look down on the ground for safer footing or look up for oncoming snow-covered branches.  If you lacked multitasking skills you likely chose the former, however this resulted in the extra dusting of snow after being slightly clothes-lined every now and again. Nothing like a good sense of humor to laugh it off though! The reward of expending so much energy was a breath-taking view of a winter wonderland that words cannot describe, crisp clean fresh air, a sense of accomplishment, and the chance to take great pictures you
ll brag about for years to come.


It
s true that the early bird gets the worm though. On the way down the mountain, we had to weave and bob through a surprising amount of Korean tours going in the opposite direction. A car-jamb of hikers, so to speak. Since we essentially had the mountain to ourselves hiking up, everyone was wondering where they came from. Tail gating someone pushy was the best way to beat the crowd while coming down. All in all though, the extra traffic made no one bitter. It was more entertaining than anything to see that many people try to climb the mountain simultaneously!

Afterwards, we headed back to the accommodations to enjoy a well-deserved lunch. Then, everyone collected their belongings, jumped back on the bus, and hunkered down for the drive back to Seoul.