Hope you’re handling the deluge of posts without too much trauma. Tell you what, I’ll try to lower the wordage even more as an act of Christmas charity.
Two weeks from yesterday and I’m outta here. I’m now spending most of each school day bent over my laptop, working on these danged pitchers while my students sleep through a movie. It’s an arrangement that pleases us all. Evenings go slowly by in a hazy sprawl of rock’n’roll, German beer and a few more hours working on photos while sitting on an inadequately heated floor.
Today I left the apartment and nearly fell on my arse — literally. Snow in the night. Just a dusting, but it prettied up the neighbourhood a bit.
Happy 70th to Keith Richards! I enjoyed a Stones marathon last night, one that’s continuing here in the staffroom as I type this up. Aptly, there’s a Stones connection with this post too…
* * * * *
Moonlight Mountain is another of my nicknames for local peaks. It’s the one where I slept on the ledge that night on my birthday last year. The place where I had one of those everything’s gonna be okay epiphanies as I listened to the Stones’ Moonlight Mile while attempting, rather ineptly, to dance in the dark.
That mountain deserved a name, and also a final visit, and this was (I thought at the time *) it. Only this time I climbed it more or less by accident.
It was early November, and I wanted a dose of Autumn. I remembered the colours on this path from last year, so back I went, past the cairns that guard the start of the trail…
..pausing for a snack and some pictures with the jangseung, demon-repelling totem poles that let me pass without incident:
Well, almost without incident. This pair in purple was chatting and laughing loudly — till they saw me. Then they went silent, stared at the ground, and passed without acknowledging me.
Happens all the time:
Must be my face.
So that pissed me off, like it always pisses me off — there’s a code of behaviour when you’re in the mountains, and it oughtta be universal. But what are you gonna do? There’s a junction there, and instead of taking the right fork like I always do, I took the left, behind the Purple Demons — a long way behind:
That path was incredible, moist and cool and ablaze with autumnal colour. I stopped repeatedly to admire the foliage and greet the locals — a gorgeous arachnid…
..and a nonchalant chipmunk on a stream bank that let me stalk it for a while:
This is one of the most beautiful maples I’ve ever seen:
A couple more scowling beauties stomped by, leaves wilting and dropping from trees as they passed…
..and soon afterwards I reached a ridge with some benches and the ubiquitous exercise equipment that mars too many forests over here.
And it looked familiar, but I was disoriented. I never hike with maps in Korea — never even seen a hiking map apart from signboards at some trailheads. Over time I’ve pieced together an understanding of how most of the ridges and peaks in my corner of Korea are linked, but there are still some grey areas.
I knew I’d walked here a year ago, from a different direction. I swung left on a whim and came out of the woods to a clifftop; paused where a couple of older ladies were sitting on the rocks. And as I was gazing at the view, trying to orient myself (Hey, maybe I should call my book about my life in Korea Orienting Myself?)…
..I realised with a start that I was back on Moonlight Mountain, and the ladies were sitting on my birthday campsite.
So that felt good. And now my mental map has one more link.
It was a steep, slip-sliding descent down a familiar trail. The autumn leaves, thick on the ground, made for some uneasy walking; the leg muscles that get hammered walking in snow or on ice came back into play, and I was grabbing at branches and limbs to arrest many an unplanned skid.
The forest here was different — drier, no maples — but still a treat:
Well, being Korea, you have to live with a certain amount of human intrusion in the hills…
..but overall this path remains a favourite:
I’ve photographed this trunk several times over the last two years. It was exceptionally handsome that morning:
But all good things…
* As it turned out, I was back there recently via a different route — almost certainly the final visit this time
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote