Hi, all. How was your Sunday? Mine rocked — fortunately, as I wasted my Saturday completely. Well, I slept a lot, and I probably needed it. But staying inside a tiny apartment for a whole day sends me a little loco. I hit the pavement with a lot of pent-up energy this morning, and after loading up on carbs and caffeine at the bakery I was ready to take on anything.
I stayed close to home, though. It’s payday on Tuesday so the wallet’s approaching ultralight. No worries — I hadn’t climbed Bulmo-San, the lumpy sprawl of ridges a stone’s throw from home, for a while. If you’ve ever watched a gazelle bounding across the savannah on the National Geographic channel, you can visualise my approach to the base of Bulmo. It was beautiful.
It wasn’t just the coffee and the need for movement. The early-autumn sunshine today, the clear skies and the balmy temperature combined to create one of the best day’s weather I’ve enjoyed in eight months in Korea. It’s a great time to be here, and knowing what’s in store in a couple of months just adds to the urge to make the most of it.
I’ve climbed Bulmo by half a dozen routes. Today was another variation. The first part was familiar, along a melodious stream and up steeply through hardwood forest still flush with the green of summer. Half an hour from home you leave the stream and step onto the first ridge. There are wildflowers here for most of the year, and inevitably a few of these superfast frogs will leap across the trail, quickly vanishing in the undergrowth.
Today was special — I got my first good look at one:
My variation this time was turning left when I hit the dirt road I usually cross to continue climbing. This leads to the surfaced road that winds up past Jangyu Pokpo — my laughably austere Korean vocabulary includes such essential words as the beautiful pokpo (waterfall) — to Jangyu Temple.
You’ll remember Jangyu-Sa from earlier posts; I found it on one of my first “real” hikes in Korea and it’s still among my favourites.
A drink from the spring and I climbed up behind the big gold Buddha to the main ridge-line. A nice surprise here with a hundred metres or so of trail lit up at the fringes by these fantastic flowers:
Some research tonight reveals that they are red spider lilies, Lycoris radiata, and that they’re native to China. Wikipedia states that they were introduced to Japan, where they symbolise the arrival of Autumn and are used in funerals and to repel pests — the bulbs are highly toxic. Korea isn’t mentioned, but I wonder if the Japanese, in turn, brought them here.
The article adds: Some other legends have it that when you see someone that you may never meet again, these flowers…would bloom along the path.
If there’s any truth in this, I envisage scarlet trails criss-crossing the nation in my wake.
We had another typhoon last Sunday/Monday, which meant no school on Monday and some impressive 50m/second winds. Reaching the ridge and turning right towards the summit, I walked a trail littered with shredded pine needles and splintered boughs — and something bigger:
Yongji-Bong, the 720m summit, was even more colourful than usual. The noodle vendor was there as always, but now he’s added beach umbrellas to his tarp set-up. And a party was in progress in the pavilion: the whole floor occupied by feasting — and drinking — hikers.
Against my better judgment, I bought a $1 paper cup of Lucifer’s own beverage of choice, Korean instant coffee, and sipped it, wincing, beneath the tarp while the noisy drinking party toasted their epic victory.
I debated moving on but thought I’d save it for a day with an earlier start.
Instead, I backtracked, down through the Death Flowers, where a jolly fat man and his giggling girlfriend/daughter/wife asked in Korean where I was from. “Hoju” (Australia), I answered, thereby exhausting my vocabulary.
Red spiders burst from the earth as I raced onwards and downwards.
I farewelled a rather more sombre fat man…
..and aimed for home:
This time I turned right at the temple, climbed a little, and descended a steep spur I’d only travelled once before, going up. The last leg of a delightful excursion, and even the trees seemed to smile at me as I passed…
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote