Thursday, October 10, 2019

Day 13, Leg 11

Today was a magnificent day, but I'm very tired, so I'll try to keep this short.

Day 3 of the Saejae portion of the walk did indeed begin with the 5K uphill to Ihwaryeong, the large gate/tunnel at the top of the highest point on the Saejae trail. The slope wasn't a killer, and because the morning was somewhat cold, I barely broke a sweat on my way to the top. Five kilometers up were followed by five kilometers down, and except for a minor hill later on, the rest of the walk was smooth sailing.

The path was once again different from the route I'd taken in 2017; this time around, I somehow managed to avoid the dangerous half-kilometer stretch that had worried me last time.

San Gwa Gang Pension is still run by the same friendly couple, but the neighborhood lost its one and only convenience store, which is a bummer. Luckily, I had packed along a meal to heat and eat at the pension. Unfortunately, the pension stank of rotten vegetables when I entered my room (the Cherry Room this time, not the Mango), but I opened the doors and windows to air the place out. Still, I expect better if I'm going to be paying W60,000 for a night here. I noticed a ton of pensions, minbaks, guest houses, and "bike-tels" along the route to my pension; if I ever come this way again, I'll try somewhere different.

Had a moment of true contentment during the ascent to Ihwaryeong; tried to capture it with a selfie, but am not sure whether the attempt succeeded. Anyway, the pension now has Wi-Fi, so here are some pics.


Starting out early:

Either 5 or 5.2 km to Ihwaryeong:


Above the clouds:

3 km to the top:

Sincerely enjoying this:

Just one more kilometer to go:

Made it. All downhill from here.

One view from the top:

Ihwaryeong gate/tunnel:

Seen on the way down:

Some old-school Korean architecture:

The Mungyeong region is apparently known for its omija (five-flavor) drinks:

Some scenery:


Took a break at a coffee shop and had a croissant. I could rant about why it's wrong-wrong-wrong to cut up a croissant and slather it in semen-like sugar, but I'll save the food snobbery for my other blog. Note my dining companion, Mr. Gregory the Backpack, who made for quiet company:

A detour took me past this church:

Rice harvest:

Final approach:

San Gwa Gang Pension:

My tan hand:

I had thought about showing you a gross pic of my right pinky toe's blood blister, but the blood is gone. All that's left is loose skin. I guess the blister popped at some point, but I didn't see any bloodstains on my socks. Maybe it's a post-Hangeul Day miracle.

No cosmic insights tonight. I'm not looking forward to tomorrow's 32-km trek out to a campground, nor am I eager to do the 29-km trek to a motel the following day. On October 14, though, I'll do a 33K walk followed by a two-night stay at a motel. This will finally give me a chance to wash my pants, which desperately need a good wash. On the positive side, though, tomorrow's walk will mark the end of the Saejae portion and put me onto the final segment: the Nakdong River Trail. Plenty of nasty uphills, but also lots of gorgeous scenery. Here's hoping the weather holds.

Photo essay:

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