Hiking, Korea, Mountains
Comments 13

The Jewelled City of the Spiders: Mt Geumjeong, Dawn

I woke, for the third or fourth time — even at home, that’s a good night for me — and poked my head over the wall. Cloud obscured everything more than a few metres down the ridge; I could have been thousands of metres up, somewhere remote and alpine, not a measly 600 or so above bustling Busan.

All was silent.

A tepid once-iced coffee helped rouse me. What a delightful process breaking camp is when you sleep tent-less! I stepped into the cloud, proceeding eastwards with no real plan except descending somewhere ahead, perhaps visting Beomeo-sa, Busan’s most famous temple, tucked into one of the lower folds of the ridge, on the way down.

The first web of the morning, a sparkling dew-trap. I paused without thought, slipping off the lens cap…

..and no sooner had I finished with that one than…

For the next hour or more I brushed through wet grass and dewy bushes, stopping every few metres to crouch under, peer over or crane my neck and lens through the tripwires of web after glistening web.

It was utterly absorbing — I really can’t think of too many more pleasurable ways to spend a morning. To have no commitments whatsoever and the leisure to stroll, pause, admire, try to snare the snarer in the viewfinder…

..and then on, in a haphazard, zigzagging way, completely content…

I feel sorry for people who rise late and miss this kind of magic.

Many’s the time I’ve cursed my insomnia but in truth I think I’ve adapted. Ever since I was a kid I’ve leapt out of bed before dawn, ready to jump back into whatever project I had going.

Self-portrait, Wonhyobong, 687m

Such a shame that five days out of seven, these days, a four-letter-word starting with “W” is my reason for rising — and that it’s not so much a leap as a limp..

Korean hiking clubs use — and leave — tags to mark their routes

I don’t know how I’d survive the nine-to-five stints without regular doses of this.

The North Gate took 149 days & the labour of thousands to build

The photography, too. Anyone who loves taking pictures could relate, I’m sure, to the way it focuses you (heh) on the place, the moment — the here and now.

Well, some of us have work to do

For a few precious seconds, nothing outside that frame matters.

Two examples of the rope-maker’s art

But where was I?

Oh, yeah, moving east, back in a wet and wooded section of the path, with other walkers materialising out of the mist now that the morning was getting on — and then I came to this little junction with a sign pointing north to a temple called Mireuk-Sa…

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote



  1. Some awesome atmospheric shots there, good one. Really like that colour one facing into the light. Cool

  2. You describe the pleasure of losing oneself in the moment so well. I am addicted to it – it’s what keeps me shooting, and sane (ish).

    • Our kind is messed up, Rachael. We’re gonna go to the grave (hopefully not for some time yet) lopsided from the weight permanently dangling off one shoulder…

      For me, taking pictures (and I say it as a proud and passionate amateur) is like yoga-on-the-go.

  3. You found a perfect morning for these sort of shots! Nothing beats a bit of cloud/mist for atmosphere. I think that’s the bonus for your insomnia in that you’re up so bloody early! Can you imagine trying to replicate the pictures at midday in bright sunlight?!

    Oh yeah, who doesn’t love a staircase in mist?! Is that self-portrait a reflection in a sign or something? Mm… Yeah, the work caper is something I’d like to resolve, as it really interferes with my walking…

    • Yeah, I’m a big mist fan, for sure. Love to live in, say, Scotland or somewhere with a reliable supply of the stuff – for part of the year, anyway.

      Yes, the portrait is this aluminium stuff the summit signboard was made of. Very considerate of them, I thought!

  4. a strawberry patch says

    Just beautiful, the dew, the mist-love the black and whites. Feel like I saw it myself….

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