Hoofsore on the Barbed-Wire Coast
DAY 12. Another day, another Family Mart with my phone sneakily attached to the socket they always have out the front. I could ask and they’d happily charge it inside, but this way I can watch it. I use an adaptor with my foreign phone and if it’s not attached just right it doesn’t work.
Well, I’m on course to do my requisite 35 miles today, but they are coming slowly and with increasing lashings of pain. Nobody’s fault but mine. It would probably take a thousand miles of mountain trail to do the kind of damage the roads have inflicted in 300 or so.
“Tell us more about your feet, Goat!” you cry. Well, since you ask. I should have brought fresh insoles as mine (good ones) are just about hammered lifeless. And the great asteroid-sized blister on my right heel, which I stabbed last night, now has a twin emerging on the left. Another the size of Jeju Island is throbbing right in the middle of my right sole. The toes, though their boyish good looks are long gone, are relatively suffering-free.
But the real problem is the constant pins and needles in my soles, especially when I first start after a break. Like I’m walking on a bed of nails. I’m beginning to question my loathing of the car — and my choice of holiday leisure!
But enough! I don’t want you to think I’m miserable, ’cause I’d still rather be doing this than (almost) anything else. The journey is still a buzz, just a slower buzz.
Last night I left the beach and hiked till about 10:30, really enjoying the nearly deserted coastal road with the fences and lookout towers in dramatic silhouette. Surf broke over floodlit outcrops; I passed a giant war memorial and a massive navy frigate perched on dry land as an exhibit.
Then I was led inland again, back through the paddies and sleeping hamlets. I started thinking about a place to crash. One problem with night-hiking is that finding a campsite, particularly in a semi-urban area, is much more difficult in the dark. (I recall one drunken night on the PCT getting woken in the night by an irate local who’d found me cowboy-camping on his front driveway.)
After a fruitless half-hour I resorted to spreading out my kit on the ground in a bus shelter! I figured I’d be dry at least if the rain returned. But the quality of my repose was compromised by the traffic noise and sweeping headlights; I got perhaps three hours before conceding defeat and starting down the prickling road. Hundreds of fat spiders hung from glistening, dewy webs, as dawn broke over the Taebaek Mountains.
My goal is Yangyang (like Australia’s Wagga Wagga, so good they named it twice) and a little beyond, further inland, so tomorrow I can find Rt 44 and start…climbing.
Yes, folks, my secret plan is now revealed. Alert the media! I aim to reach the climax of this journey on Soraeksan, one of the country’s highest, most dramatic and most famous, and then find my way to Sokcho on the coast and a bus home. I could be wrong, but I have a feeling I might the first person to walk to the top of it from Busan.
Or if my feet deteriorate further, I’ll surely be the first to crawl it.
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote