Well, I rate the iPhone post experiment as a success, despite its obvious limitations in the photo department, and you can look forward to some highly digestible near-daily Postcards from Wherever during my upcoming ramble.
Meanwhile, with the post-hike luxury of cushion, keyboard, light and air-con, here’s the more complete story of my killer weekend: with its killer views, temperatures, insects and a humidity/dehydration double that packed a killer punch.
I mentioned “The Man in the Suit”. Here he is, in early January, my first meeting with “The Tree”:
Saturday. Starting up through the forest near my place. I stopped twice along here to gulp some water from the stream. Each time I was instantly thirsty again:
Approaching the summit of Yongji-Bong, high point on the Bulmo-San ridge complex. Home is that cluster of white apartments. Which cluster? you ask. The one on the lower right:
The summit was deserted. I was kinda realising why. Could it have had something to do with the murderous heat and awful humidity?
I’ve been experimenting with a UV-repellant umbrella again — liked them in low wind in the California desert. After much angst trying to get one online (Go Lite set the standard, but don’t ship offshore), I found one for 10 bucks in the local Lotte Mart that says “UV” on the label. It’s small and seems durable, and at least repels some of the solar attack from above. Next week I’ll be grateful.
Looking back. Second peak from the left is Yongji-Bong. Closer are The Sentinel and Dalek Alley. Yes, I named them myself:
And I was on Daeam-San — Big Rock Mountain. One or two other hikers, but very quiet. I settled down under “my” tree, with the sun starting to flame up beyond the Changwon plain, set my umbrella to max and settled down for a late lunch/early supper:
One of the locals emerged to take in the dusk, apparently under the impression that it was his/her tree:
We had the best seat in the house. Changwon, (loosely) based on Canberra, planned city intended as an alternate capital should Seoul have fallen during the Korean War:
Dinner done with, let the high comedy (get it?) begin. A farcical episode began in which I set up the NEX on a convenient boulder, set the timer for 10 seconds, and ran like hell towards the tree:
I tried this stunt three times. 10 seconds was not quite enough, and I quit before I ran off the side of the mountain:
Enough. Let’s just relax and enjoy the show:
A few walkers began trickling onto the summit, and I realised the Koreans weren’t extinct, just smarter than me. They were timing their climbs (from relatively close Changwon) for the cool of dusk.
I do enjoy watching the Korean ritual of reaching a summit only to bust out one’s favourite stretching routine, often interspersed with bloodcurdling victory cries of “YAHHH-HOHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”:
I tried to get into the spirt of things:
Three more walkers appeared, asked where I was from. One got excited — he’d done a triathlon in eastern Australia but couldn’t remember where. They offered me a beer. Through tears of bitter longing and regret, I declined. They turned and took off:
I repaired to my lonesome pine, which seemed, I don’t know, kinda indifferent to my presence. The lights were coming on down below. That delicious sense of ease, satisfaction and purpose, which are the closest I get to “happiness”, flooded through me.
I sat there a while, enjoying it, since you never know when the next dose is coming…
..and Changwon took over the entertainment duties now that Old Man Sun had turned in for the night.
Say what you will about these Korean cities, which sprout between peaks from just about every patch of flat land in the country — they are utterly enchanting from the vantage points of height, distance and darkness:
But it was time to call it a night. Flat spots were pretty sparse up here, and one of the joys of stealthin’ (which is, I’m pretty sure, technically “illegal”) is improvising with the “built environment”. So a bench in the pavilion had my name on it. Narrow, to be sure, but with sweet views from the bedroom window:
No need for a sleeping bag — luckily, since I didn’t bring one. Just air mattress and bag liner. I set a water bottle near my head, regretting my salty repast, and settled in for the night, thinking about the fun in store come morning…
You may climb these mountains
You may look down on everyone
But you’ll never find
No, you’ll never find
Your place in the sun
~ The Triffids
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote