Hey, people, thanks for dropping by as always. I’ve split this post, about last Saturday’s unexpectedly interesting little walk, into two parts, carefully calculated to allow uninhibited digestion over two consecutive bowls of cereal. Expect the next installment in 24 hours or so. Advertisements
The New York Saga, continued… I like a gal who appreciates a nice romantic stroll through a rustic cemetery.
Howdy, strangers. For the second time in Korea I’ve been knocked horizontal by something nastier than a common cold. Everything ached; party season at Club Mountaingoat was reluctantly curtailed. My malaise was exacerbated by an injured rib from a fall a few weeks back: every cough was a blade through my chest. Then just as the rib seemed to be mending, I coughed so hard I threw out my lower back, an old injury that flares up once or twice a year to transform me overnight from Bear Grylls to Grandpa Simpson. As you know, I’m not the complaining type, so I withdrew from the world and stewed in anonymity.
So, where was I? So, where am I? So, where will I be? So many questions.
Yesterday I did my first hike of the year in Korea, a fun climb up a boulder field that spills down one of Bulmo-San’s numerous ridges. It was sunny and unseasonably warm; the frozen arteries of the Daecheongcheon, the poor blighted stream that trickles through Jangyu on its concrete-bound journey to liberation, were melting into the previous day’s bounty of rain. Just before the stream leaves the mountains, in one last desperate gasp of river-ness, the Jangyu Cascades churned with more power than I’ve seen in my year here. It was a good hike.
Well, what can I say, people, you missed the Christmas party of the century here in swinging downtown Yulha…
Well, I didn’t see that coming. After that little taste of Winter up on Bulmo-San last weekend, I’d assumed I wouldn’t be seeing any more snow locally until I climbed some more peaks later in the season. Last Winter here in the balmy south (late January or February) the hills nearby got just one light dusting and a few lonesome flakes kissed the school playground one day before a quick death and a return to sweet nothingness.
For about a month now my weekends have followed the same pattern. I go into Busan on the Saturday, do the civilised urban thing with lots of coffee and an obscene amount of clothes shopping (trying to make Winter fun); the Sunday is for hiking, photos, music and, well, more coffee. This last one fit the template perfectly. I’d lucked upon a nice variation in my Bulmo-San explorations the previous Sunday, a new route down via a hillside boulder field adorned with cairns both modest and majestic, and just below them on a col, where a dirt road zigzagged up and down the mountain, a new path marked Bulmo-San, 2.7km.
Still not fully recovered from my mysterious malady, but after a second hospital visit, another date with Dr Ringer, a new prescription of different but equally mysterious drugs, and eight days off work, I fear the dream is over and it’s back into The Abyss I trudge in the morning.
I’ve been sick for five days now, but I’ve enjoyed my time away from school, even so, and did a great though slow and medicinally enhanced walk yesterday. After I hit “PUBLISH” on this post I’m going to endeavour to get my sorry carcass out there to hit the magic number 50. It’s sunny and enticing, too good a Sunday to waste. I set a vague goal of 100 outings for my year here but at this rate I should exceed that.
And so we reach at last the final day of the school trip — and the best. This was the most beautiful scenery I’ve encountered in Korea so far, a “real” hike of a few hours, in forested mountains, along an excellent path with an amazing history.
Those kids — those indefatigable, indestructible, intolerable hellions. From the moment we arrived at our hotel somewhere in the mountains of some province somewhere in the Deep North…
Put on your shoes Put on your coat We’re going out… James McCann, ‘Been Round Here’ A friend in Sydney, Carl, had sent me an album not long before Jeju, a gritty dark-blues collection by an Australian singer called James McCann. I’d played it a few times but didn’t realise any of it had sunk in. But out of the blue, early in the evening as I swept fresh snow from the tarp and put off crawling beneath it, this one mournful number, the lyrics at once regretful and menacing, slipped into my head, spun around three times and settled in for the night.
I have a talent for suffering. Who is this lonesome fool trudging up the road in this miserable weather, away from the highway, deeper into the quiet woods…
One great thing about walking everywhere in a new town is how fast you get to know its layout. As the 737 left the Gimhae tarmac, I watched the landscape already imprinted on my memory unfold in glorious 3-D from my window seat.
You’re probably as relieved as I am that my latest Moreton saga has concluded. Now I’m left with a knife-gouge in my belly where I dug out the tick, a sea-turtle breast-plate on my kitchen shelf, assorted souvenir molluscs, sand still turning up in odd places, and some very pleasant memories.
LATE-DECEMBER, 2010 Zermatt proudly celebrates its role in the Golden Age of alpinism:
My time in Switzerland was running out. One evening Sarah said, “It would really be a shame if you didn’t see Zermatt while you were here. The Matterhorn is amazing, there’s lots of hiking. Hmmm…wait a minute…”.
APRIL, 2008 I start hard and early and won’t let myself pause till I’ve cleared the outer edge of Sapporo. So much frustration and worry to burn off. The city emerges as the sluggish late-winter sun crawls above the snowy peaks…
MID-DECEMBER, 2010 I exit the train reaching instinctively for my liner gloves and my goat-skin mittens. Fribourg (French for “free fort”; Freiburg in German) is on the Swiss Plateau a few hours west of Sarah’s place in Cham; it’s also several degrees colder.