Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Day 26, Leg 22

Hard to believe that I have only two more days of walking left to me. Time flies when you're having fun torturing your feet.

I guess I should begin with an incident that happened yesterday. I somehow forgot to relate it in yesterday's post. About two-thirds of the way through the walk, I was passed by three older people on bikes: one man and two women. The second of the two women was having trouble keeping up, and when a modest-but-long hill appeared in front of her, she awkwardly hit her brakes, accidentally squeezing her left (front) brake first, causing her bike to buck in a comical way. I walked past her, wondering whether she would decide to get off her bike and walk it up the hill or stay on and try muscling her way to the top. "Everything okay?" I asked as I passed her. She said yes. Apparently, she decided to try pedaling to the top, but because she had stopped her bike so close to the bottom of the hill, she hadn't given herself enough space to build up any speed or momentum. So, inevitably, and right as she again pulled up alongside me, she lost all forward momentum and tumbled gracelessly sideways off her bike and onto the grass. Her female companion, who had been waiting at the top of the hill for her friend, laughed loudly and scathingly because, as my Korean-fluent ex-boss used to observe, Koreans have no empathy unless the exact same misfortune befalls them. I hobbled over, pulled the bike off the woman, then helped her up. "When you're going up a steep hill," I said, "try weaving side to side to decrease the angle." The woman, flustered and distracted, replied with a distant "Eh?" I don't think she'd even heard me. I asked her again whether everything was okay; she said yes, and I went on my way. It took the woman a while to finish the hill and pass me, but when she finally did, she called out a "Thank you!" to me as she trundled by.

So that was yesterday. I had an idea that today's walk, which Naver put at 19.45 km, would be fairly easy and pleasant, but I ended up spending much of the day staring at unfamiliar scenery, which included a huge, steep hill that I didn't recall facing at this phase in the walk last time. Things became clearer when, in the final five kilometers of the hike, I saw the same goofily painted pinkish rail bridge I had seen and scoffed at in 2017... only this time, I was seeing it from the other side of the river. That's when I realized that my decision to split this leg of the walk into two had caused Naver to plot my course very differently from last time, and it wasn't until the end of today's walk that I ended up on the same side of the river as two years ago.

Another highlight today: I encountered a lost little kitten. At a guess, it had been abandoned by its mother. Looking scruffy and underfed, the kitten had almost no voice with which to meow, but it rasped in a way that was both piteous and cute. It wasn't afraid of me when I approached it; if anything, it was probably looking for help or companionship. I snapped a couple pics of the poor thing and scratched its head, but I had no clue what I could do to help it. No people were nearby, and the only food I had on me was my Survival Tabs, which I'm pretty sure the kitten would have rejected, even if I had chewed them up first. Scratching the kitten's head seemed to activate something in the animal, though, and it followed me for about fifty meters before I stopped and scooped it up. Its butt was crusted with dung, which struck me as very un-cat-like. Picking the cat up, though, switched off whatever had been switched on: the kitten gathered itself and leaped out of my arms, hitting the ground with a clumsy and painful-sounding thud. The cat didn't seem injured, thank goodness, but it was no longer interested in following me, so I shrugged and left the little animal to its fate.

Aside from the cat, the nasty hill, and miles of unfamiliar scenery, today's walk under partly cloudy skies was another beautiful one. I took a ton of shwimteo pictures, and I even met the caretaker of one shwimteo, who swept the grounds while I napped and let the pain meds course through my veins.

Tomorrow's walk ought to be by the numbers, with no surprises. The route, which Naver now puts at 21K, takes me to Yangsan City, where I'll spend two nights before doing the final, 28K leg of the walk to the Nakdong River Estuary. No one I know will be there at the endpoint to greet me and share my triumph, but I'll be having lunch the following day at a friend's place in nearby Masan.

One regret that I have about this walk is that I've been unable to think up a good walking/marching song to add pep to my step. I like Sir Ian McKellen's rendition of Tolkien's "The Road Goes Ever On," and I wanted to compose something in that vein. Who knows? Maybe something will come to me when I'm back at the office and once again toiling away in obscurity.

And at some point, I'll have to write an epilogue that includes some reflections about this walk. I'll definitely comment on the proliferation of solar panels since 2017, as well as the preponderance of golf courses designed for seniors that have shown up all along this walk. Cock pheasants ought to get a mention as well: they weren't as prominent as they had been in the springtime, but they were still around, clucking their weird clucks. But for the moment, let's put up the walk stats for both yesterday and today.



Leaving Hanam-eup and Haegeum-jang Yeogwan:

Scenes from the path:

A village with character:

The view from a shwimteo:

The tiniest horsemanship school you'll ever see (with a cutie on horseback):



Yet more old people playing golf:

Budget shwimteo:

The hill that took me by surprise:

Near the top and looking back down:

Every abandoned fridge tells a story:

A hill's-eye view of farmland:

Steep grade going down:

Another budget shwimteo:


It was a strange feeling to approach this bridge from a completely different angle, then to realize how recent decisions regarding lodging had radically altered my course. I also noticed, this time around, that the bridge was actually more purple than pink:

I love these paths made of thick, interwoven ropes. Hadn't seen these since walking across Seoul, around Day 2:

The walk is winding down, and I'm in an area with a lot of bridges across the river. There's a park off to one side, but I have to cross a bridge to go to (and through) the village across the water. Some scenes:

The lady looks a little crazy, and the guy looks a little stupid. Match made in heaven?

And what the fuck is up with her teeth?

Quite possibly the cleanest, most spic-and-span shwimteo I have ever seen:

See what I mean?

The final few hundred meters to Nakdong-jang Yeogwan:

Photo essay:


  1. Wow, good stuff and great pics!

    Yes, it is hard to believe there are only two days of walking left. From here it seemed to go very quickly. You've got to be proud of your endurance and overcoming pain to achieve your goal.

  2. Hooray! You are still alive!

    Good luck with the last bit of the walk.

  3. John,

    Well, I guess I'm proud of sumpin'.


    I'm reminded of Morgan Freeman's Azim in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," after their first major skirmish in England: "You whine like a mule. You're still alive!"