Beach & Coastal Walking, Korea, Long-Distance Walking, Road Walking
Comments 19

Tail End of the Goat Killer Trail: Pictures

I thought I’d knock Days 11-13 off in one hit since Day 13 was just a few hours and I’m in danger of forgetting how to write. I hope you’ve enjoyed this lengthy series of souvenirs of an adventure I’m immensely proud of pulling off.

Back here in the workaday world my good spirits have survived their greatest challenge since my return from Sokcho: two classes today of ABSOLUTE BASTARDS. I’ve been a good boy, really I have, winning a few hearts and minds among the students and staff of both schools. But these little shits nearly brought all my good work undone; I left N2 a little glum and more than a little hoarse.

Only a long session on the river bank with my camera at dusk, shooting dragonflies perching on flower seedpods, soothed the Disgruntled Goat that lurks beneath my otherwise loveable exterior. (Twice today boys made devil horns with their fingers, Korean shorthand for “Is Teacher angry?”)

* * * * *

DAYS 11-13

The Paradise Motel in Samcheok was good, so good I didn’t leave till 8:30…

The first hour in light rain was splendid, even if most of the coast is marred by barbed wire and the world’s ugliest abandoned sentry posts…

Is that a PAPIER MACHE pillbox?!

Koreans love to get their feet wet as they dine

Bark Detail

And then the rain — serious rain… When I came to a turnoff leading coastward, I jumped at it gratefully…

Superb mountain scenery & gardens

I had Bob Dylan’s ‘Tombstone Blues’ in my head… 

Heading coastward, singing Zimmerman

Walking (tenderly) through that lovely sand to dip my wretched doggies in the water was indescribably wonderful…

The beached liner is a hotel – not sure about the other vessel

I left the beach and hiked till about 10:30…resorted to spreading out my kit on the ground in a bus shelter! I got perhaps three hours before conceding defeat…

Hundreds of fat spiders hung from glistening, dewy webs, as dawn broke over the Taebaek Mountains…

Ensnared headlights at dawn

The lovely Taebaek Mtns, one of Korea’s major ranges

A misty rice-paddy dawn

The antiquated postcard look: “Come see the famous spiders of Yangyang!”

Another roadside statuary emporium

A lovely evening & real white sand

Trainee surfers on a balmy swell

Death at the seaside

It got dark, the road less hospitable…

A bus stop. A bench… Another awful night…

Around 4:00am I shuffled down a side-road to the coast…

Final morning

Surf lashed at barbed-wire beaches; five soldiers on patrol spaced themselves out and began fanning out along the shore…

Dawn patrol

Coastal defences near Sokcho

 Inland, the rugged cliffs and outcrops of Seorak-San…

Perhaps my favourite photo from this trip: Soerak-San, not far inland

Then I reached it…

If you look close you might see my lip prints

The journey to Busan took six and a half hours…

And that’s what I did on my vacation.

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

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19 Comments

  1. Alice says

    I am a little sad at the end here. Love the spider web. Sorry about the students–I teach and tutor adult international students here in Colorado and have had some pills in class, that’s for sure. Students are students–love them and want to strangle them.

    • Cheers, mate. I have a few crazy schemes bubbling away. It’s funny, my Korea walk means more to me right now than 2000 miles on the PCT did – although the latter left me with some lifelong friends, no small thing.

  2. I’m a little sad too. You should be proud, and rightly so. Blogging milestones, both the excitingly fresh, on-the-spot missives and the later, more considered write-ups (shoot-ups?)

    I’m with you on that Soerak-San pic — it’s so lush and velvety, and a trifle mysterious. This is what trekking is all about: an infinitely receding line, a moody sky, the distant hills. On a purely technical note: what was your exposure setting here?

    I think what I like above all is your ability to latch on to beauty in the unconventional, to find something quirkily worthwhile among the dross. Your texts and photos have the pulse of real life, as well as celebrating the artily surreal. Plus the self-deprecating humour, intentionally exaggerated paranoia, Dharma Bum bohemianism, and epiphanic tints and glints of course!

    Before I get even more pretentious, I’ll just end by saying, tritely: one door closes, but another opens. (Usually on to more damn students in your case!)

    Well done on this series, Goat. We all enjoyed it.

    • Thanks, SW, that is probably one of my favourite comments ever. Much appreciated. And you nailed the intangible rewards and motifs of long-distance walking.

      The tech settings: I’ll check when I get home (doing this on the phone at the bakery) but would have been on Aperture Priority at ISO 200, overcast WB (which I use even on sunny days). Prob somewhere between f5.6 and 8 with a notch or two of exposure comp.

      • Well, I was wrong – way wrong. Guess it was darker than I remembered. ISO: 400. Aperture: f5. Shutter: 1/50. Exposure bias: 0.30. I never use f5 ordinarily. I must have stopped down as far as I could without getting the shutter speed much slower than 1/60 for the handheld shot in the pre-dawn light.

  3. Goat, great series of posts for quite a trip! I was wondering about fatigue setting in writing this up, but you’ve stuck at it admirably. There’s certainly being some strange sights on the way and this post is no exception with that hotel/ship contraption. That’s one way to spoil a cliff top!

    Nice shots as usual!

    • Yeah, but I suppose that hotel could have been worse: spaceship, giant crab, penis…

      This walk was a walking and even life milestone for me. I think about it every day and it seems less and less real in some ways. Lucky I have the pictures – and the lingering blisters…

  4. nielsenbrownoutdoors says

    I have really enjoyed this series, it has provided an insight into South Korea and has reinforced my belief in the importance of documenting rural and urban hiking. In some ways I think such hiking trips are more challenging than the wilderness tour because of the hard pavements, dodging cars locating secluded (or safe campsites) not to mention finding fresh water when needed.

    As for teaching, fortunately my students are a lot more responsive than yours it would appear. Looking forward to your next adventure. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Roger! My thoughts exactly. I think there’s a bit of an attitude among the hiking community worldwide that the only really worthwhile walking is in the wilderness, and the more spectacular the better. I’ve always enjoyed the challenges and rewards of walking in the countryside and urban areas — if they’re new for me, there’s still a lot to explore and discover. I’m actually going to publish a post soon about my thoughts on this kind of walking.

      I’m glad you liked the series. One of my goals with the blog – while I’m here – and that series in particular is to show some of Korea that’s typically missed in travel writing about the place. And you teach – I didn’t know that. I do have some quality students and some classes I love, but some of these delinquent boys… I don’t think I have the temperament!

      • I am sure you have the temperament, I remember teaching some very challenging country kids in Victoria. A few years later I would bump into them at the country footy, they would always say hello and happily talk.

      • Yeah, I think most of them are just temporary delinquents! I always feel bad when I lose my temper with them, especially when I go off on one of my rants — esp as they probably don’t understand half of it! But I have to get it out. Some of them really are obnoxious little turds. All I ask is that they ignore me QUIETLY!

  5. I’ve enjoyed reading all of these posts and seeing the amazing pictures. Love your style (both writing and life :))

    • Haha — I have style?! Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed that series. I had a great time writing and shooting it — and yes, living it.

  6. A great series – pictures and words; I’ve enjoyed following your journey. Sounds like what you need now, though, is a walking holiday.

    • Thanks, Nick. That would be great, yes. I’m hoping to compromise with a few days of walking in the mountains back up there near Sokcho — but going to and from the trail by bus!

  7. Super series. Just think, if you’d managed more sleep in the bus shelter you might have missed that lovely misty rice-fields dawn.

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