Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Day 18, Leg 15

It's been a day of much-needed rest here by the Chilgok Dam. As I think I predicted back in 2017, the nice little restaurant behind the Lee Motel has gone out of business thanks to a lack of customers. I blame the location: the restaurant isn't visible from any angle of approach, and no amount of signage is going to persuade the masses to flock to a restaurant they can't see. Upshot: I had to get my food from the nearest convenience store, which required me to walk down the street, go through a concrete tunnel, and climb some stairs. That's normally not a horrible prospect, but imagine you're now severely arthritic and moving about like a 90-year-old.

At least I'm moving around much better than I had been at the end of the day yesterday. It makes me think that, if I could only take two months off to do the same walk, this whole thing would be a lot easier on my feet. Really, though, the best solution is just to lose another 20 kg. Will I? If history is any indication, no. But you never know: I might be bitten by the fitness bug upon my return to civilization.

I'm currently dreading the next few days. Tomorrow, I do another 32K walk that will take me into Daegu. I'll be staying only a single night at the Boom Motel (or the Motel Boom... Korean motels aren't big on word order). After that, I walk 23K to stay at a riverside inn just outside of Daegu, then on Friday, I trudge 33K out to the Hapcheon Changnyeong Dam for my first night of two nights in a row of camping. On Saturday, I walk another 18K and camp again. This means that, by Sunday, I'll be a filthy, stinking mess when I walk 28K to the town of Namji-eup for another two-night stay at the CF Motel. I fondly remember Namji-eup for its awesome Nae Nae Chicken branch, which made some of the crunchiest, best-tasting chicken tenders I've ever had.

After Namji, I walk 33K to another campsite. Whereas the two campsites mentioned above will be out in nature and not necessarily legal, this campsite will be an "auto campground," i.e. a place for a family to drive in, select a numbered plot, and set up camp. It's not real camping, but it gets the kids outdoors and under the big sky.

The following day, October 23, I hike 33K to the city of Yangsan, where I will once again stay for two nights to allow my battered feet a chance to rest before the final leg of the walk on October 25: 28K from Yangsan to Busan's Nakdong River Estuary and the end of my trek. I like the fact that the final day's walk will be relatively short. It will also be in a relatively straight line south because Yangsan sits almost directly atop Busan.

I have at least three really nasty hills to look forward to between now and the end. One is just a straightforward slope that goes up and up, steeply, for the better part of a kilometer. I'll have to switchback my way up that one if I hope to do it without stopping. The other two hills are themselves some pretty horrible, switchbacking paths. One sits next to a Buddhist temple called Mushim-sa (No-mind Temple, mushim being an important concept in Zen Buddhism); the other is... well, frankly, I don't remember where it is. I also can't remember whether I encountered two of these three nasty ascents on the same day. I'll have to look at my 2017 blog tonight.

So: arduous times ahead, which means you get to read more about my screaming feet. I've been thinking, lately, that the foot gods exact a heavy price whenever I do this sort of walk; two of the toenails on my left foot are blackening right now, so I know I'll be losing them by Christmas and regrowing them by the end of winter in early 2020. I may have to rethink my loyalty to the New Balance brand of walking shoe; I apparently need to buy a shoe with what is called a "wide toe box" to give my digits room to breathe.

October 15 is also my little brother Sean's birthday. Sean is a professional cellist who performs with various local orchestras and also ends up doing some interesting gigs involving some pretty big names. He just told me he did a performance, recently, with Hugh Jackman, whom we all know to be as much of a song-and-dance man as he is a big movie star. Sean said Hugh was nice and shook everyone's hands. Sean also just performed alongside Katy Perry, and he had the video to prove it. See here. Wait for the moment when the camera pans right, and look for the row of instrumentalists. Find the one shadowy dude on cello who looks a lot like yours truly, and that'll be Sean. Happy Fortieth, Big Boy!

I did take a stroll across the Chilgok Dam and back. Here are some pics.

Forgot to mention they're forecasting rain for Friday. Murphy's Law. A long, 32K walk in cold rain followed by camping in said rain. Not looking forward to that at all.


  1. I guess at this point there is no alternative to camping? Just reading about what you have in store left me shaking my head and thinking "no way!"

    I forget, did you build in any recovery days before you start back to work? Just wondering if sacrificing one or two of those (assuming you have them) makes sense to ease the burden on your feet with shorter walks?

  2. Good questions. I'm thinking about splitting up the walk to Yangsan and sacrificing the extra rest day once I'm there. The logic is that I won't need the extra rest if I walk a short enough distance. We'll see.

  3. As for "buffer" days: I finish the walk on the 25th and am back in the office on the 28th.

  4. Sounds like a good plan to me, and worst case you can still take an extra day somewhere if need me.