Around the middle of last week we got some decent rain, and Daecheong Creek, down here in Jangyu where it widens and levels out after its carefree tumble down the gullies of Bulmo-San, roared with an uncharacteristic wildness.
On Wednesday morning I took some bones up to my poor sodden dogs, something to help them pass the day in their wretched kennels, and arrived at work utterly soaked thanks to the deluge, the puddles, and the thoughtful drivers on the mountain road.
After school I rushed down to the creek to find it reassuringly alive and defiant:
The rain was gone in a day or so; the rapids surging through the heart of town subsided…
..and the skies cleared:
But Wednesday night found me hiking up the mountain road again, a good excuse to visit the dogs and climb further to the Jangyu Cascades. I knew they’d be showing off some renewed vigour, and I wasn’t disappointed:
No, I wasn’t disappointed — I was crushed.
I told myself I would be more honest with my photos this year. Although I’ve ranted and railed about litter (and outright garbage) in Korea more than once on TGTW, there’s an almost irresistible force when I size up a shot to present a sliver of nature the way I want it to be.
The way I wish it was.
More often than not, I’ve obeyed the urge, framing or cropping or even just selecting subjects to show the outdoors in the most, well, flattering way. Or I take the nasty shots for myself but share the pretty ones, views like this…
All those were taken at dusk on Wednesday, or perhaps on Thursday or Friday, when I returned — it was a busy week. And on the one hand, the creek and the falls were as enchanting as ever:
But on the other…
This was as far as I got on Wednesday before I ran out of light, the descending ramps of cascades below the main waterfall. There was a bit of trash here, but no more than usual:
On Thursday it was a different story.
I thought it was bad enough a month ago when my hike up towards the headwaters saw me walking into this delightful scene:
I don’t like starting a hike in a state of rage and loathing — it screws with the ambience and the meditative calm I kinda enjoy. But I set to work lugging all the crap to the road before continuing, and that cheered me a tad.
You know what freaked me out the most about all this shit? The discarded baby junk: toys, nappies (diapers), even a baby blanket. I mean, it’s bad enough any adult would do this, it’s bad enough such adults are allowed to breed — but to do it with your kids watching?
I’ve got this theory that water attracts idiots (what can I say, I’ve walked this creek and its environs dozens of times). Something primal and moronic bubbles to the surface when you put certain humanoids next to a lake, pool, river or ocean:
Regrettably, there is a disproportionate number of such humanoids in Korea. I run into their leavings all over the bloody place.
This was the scene at the main falls when I returned on Thursday:
And on the other side:
A staggering amount of garbage — more toys and disposable nappies, discarded clothing, beer cans, bottles and food trash — adorned the pool edge…
..and the rocks above the falls:
Picnic spoils glowed in the shadowy fringes:
It was almost dark, too late to clean up. I have a policy of removing trash when possible after photographing it, so I decided to make a third trip on Friday night with some garbage bags.
Long before I reached the falls after a five- or six-mile hike from Hell Skool, I could hear the shrieking, simian buffoonery of a new pack of nature lovers. Lots of cars were parked on the road. A dozen teens — high schoolers or university students — with vast quantities of throwaway crap had taken over the pool below the falls.
I climbed above the waterfall but didn’t linger — now wasn’t the time to be the local garbage policeman.
Thing is, this is my backyard. I count myself lucky I ended up scoring a school and apartment so close. Early in the day, before it turns into this, it’s a special place, one of those places that helps keep me going.
Maybe the time will come when the rivers and beaches and wild (or at least wilder) corners of Korea get the stewards they deserve; for now I hope this post and others like it will shame the odd Korean reader into doing something to save what’s left.
Where there’s shame, there’s hope.
But it’s going to take a while. Some of yesterday’s garbage had indeed been removed — to be dumped on the roadside above the creek:
And just that morning, a mile or so downstream, I’d found this cheerful addition to the creek bed a few minutes from my place:
I heaved the thing (seemingly quite new) to the bank, and trust me, it was heavy. It would’ve taken two people to hurl it out there. Blows my mind that spoiled and affluent children, who want for nothing and who you’d think would relish any contact with what little remains of Nature here, could grow up with such casual contempt for their own backyard.
Shame on you, Korea.
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote