My third and final full day on Jeju Island dawned with beautiful weather. No rainclouds were in sight, although the humidity was still high. I would be hiking Mount Halla, South Korea’s tallest mountain. Mount Halla is a massive volcano that forms the majority of Jeju Island and is often thought of as representing the island itself. In fact, it was eruptions from Mount Halla that built the island above sea level. Hallasan was active until about 25,000 years ago.
My journey would take me 19 kilometers up and down the mountain. The scenery along the way was beautiful and only got more so as I neared the top.
Just as the peak was in sight, a heavy fog rolled in and engulfed the top of the mountain. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see the peak but after about 20 minutes, the fog cleared and revealed Hallasan’s magnificent summit.
A large volcanic crater tops the mountain and holds a crater lake (although this was dry when I was there). The Korean name of the lake translates to “White Deer Lake,” which comes from a legend about otherworldly men who descended from heaven to play with white deer.
The hike was exhausting and the trail back down seemed to go on forever so I was relieved when I finally emerged from the mountain path and hopped on a bus back to Jeju City in the north.
The next day I would take a plane back to the Korean mainland. I had a marvelous time in Jeju—what a truly stunning place!