The conclusion of yesterday’s tale. Two posts in 24 hours = two consecutive days of doing something useful at work! This could be habit-forming…
So back I went along the ridge, down the foggy ruins of time (Bob Dylan), umbrella swishing nice cold raindrops into my eyes from low-hanging boughs. I dug my main camera back out of my pack, slung it round my neck and resumed my struggle against the forces of darkness — I mean the forces of moisture. I’m pretty reckless with that little machine, but I’d rather have it handy and risk a few raindrops than have to keep stopping and retrieving it.
The worst of the weather had passed, and I was enjoying myself again. I just love the forest when it reveals its sombre, brooding side.
Takes one to know one:
The snowflakes had petered out, the stragglers dissolving beneath a light rain. My camera hand was functional, just, and I left the sodden glove off. Again and again I would pause, do the umbrella juggle and squat down for a closer look at things I’d had to rush past earlier. Gotta tell you, though, it’s murder on my knees when I finally stand up again:
I passed through the Dalek jamboree, slunk by the Lone Sentinel, and enjoyed the eerie mists of the dark woods below Yongji-Bong, silent but for the squelching of my running shoes and the patter of drops on the umbrella.
Just below the summit, a shadowy figure entered the frame, a face taking form to glower at me as it passed without a greeting:
The muddy final section before the summit:
Yongji-Bong was fogged in, a few stray snowflakes still swirling on the cold breeze. The pavilion might have offered some shelter but any views of Jangyu and home were buried deep:
This time I veered along a different ridge…
..adorned with fallen petals…
..and descended down another muddy track to Jangyu Temple:
Jangyu-Sa was the first temple I visited in Korea. I used to go mental like any tourist with a camera in a beautiful old temple, but nowadays — and I mean this in the nicest possible way — I feel like I can capture far more of the real, contemporary Korea — the brash, unsubtle, earthy-to-a-fault, in-your-face Korea — in the wastelands and construction zones and grimy roadsides of my fast-changing neighbourhood.
Still, a quiet temple on a moody, broody Saturday morning is something to savour.
Does anyone remember the two temple dogs from my first visit last year? Well, last couple of times there’s only been one. This cutie might have remembered me, but the message painted on that tile (at many temples visitors can inscribe their own tile for a fee) means KEEP OUT!:
The resident Buddha, unfazed by the inclement conditions, glowed beautifully in the muted light…
..while across hillsides still splashed with wild cherry, hints of Jangyu peeked through the cloud:
I dodged the last of the raindrops beneath the eaves of the massive temple gate. While I squatted there, a few crows appeared at the edge of the woods to dive and scream blue murder at each other over their scavenged spoils. Of course, as soon as I raised the camera they were outta there:
Time for the homeward and downward stretch. I’d had enough of muddy paths (not ideal conditions for running shoes with lots of mesh but no tread whatsoever) and took to the road. For a road-walk, this hour of steep and winding descent, paralleling the relatively unspoiled upper stretches of Daecheong Creek, is not too bad at all.
Great slender-trunked, cream-flowered azaleas, cousins to the dominant hot-pink variety crowding the ridges, leaned over the verges, blossoms drooping with a morning’s rain. Birds were starting up in the woods.
The stream gurgled; further down, gathering strength and momentum, it would lurch over the rock faces of the Jangyu Cascades. A crowded nightmare on a hot summer weekend, they’d be deserted when I reached them today — another benefit of “bad weather”-hiking.
I was pretty tired when I reached level ground. I’d spent another absorbing hour shooting the rapids (photographically speaking) at the Cascades, this time without busting a rib on the slippery rock, and even the jackass in the white sports car who screeched maniacally up into the hills, burning rubber and chasing me into the roadside weeds, could not scare off the meditative calm I’d spent a long morning cultivating.
I leaped happily back onto the blacktop, flipped him the bird he so richly deserved, and walked on — whistling, contented, and looking forward to a well-deserved afternoon nap.
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote