sreda, 17. avgust 2011

Odaesan Hike, The Beginning

Day 1
I managed something like 15 km (conservative). Found shelter halfway between Woljeong sa and Sangwon sa. This "sa" means temple, so I won't write "Woljeong sa temple" as I won't write "Odaesan Mountain" - san means mountain.
I left Dong Seoul station at noon, after a nice chitchat with a perfect stranger, who surprisinly knew where is Slovenia. He was there 20 years ago, when Yugoslavia was falling apart. I arrived in Jinbu at 2.30 PM, didn't stop there because my princess was still at school. Instead of taking the bus to the Park I started walking. Yes, I was definitely in the mountains of Gangwon do! Temperatures way more friendly than in Seoul or in the south, some nice breeze, cold water in the river to refresh my feet. Some 2 km before Woljeong sa a huge SUV stopped and a lady asked if she can give me a lift. Why not, I never exactly enjoyed walking the asphalt roads, I jumped in the car and thanked her. One surprise a day is more than enough, but no, no need to explain her where is Slovenia (not Slovakia) as I usually have to do, no, she was in Ljubljana and in that funny cave with spaghetti hanging from the ceiling...Is this a joke or what? Two Koreans that both were in Slovenia in one day? I insisted to be dropped off at Woljeong sa even if she was going further in the mountains nad was willing to take me. No, I wasn't afraid to be raped or molested, actually I wouldn't mind that. Woljeong sa is one of "my" temples. My first experiences, so whenever I pass by I stop for a prayer and a short meditation. So she wanted to give me food, a drink, some coffee... I almost went back in the car, hoping that higher in the mountains she would be willing to offer me something else... OK, stupid joke - just that it isn't a joke at all. Anyway I stayed at Woljeong sa, refilled my bottle with fresh water and changed my sweaty smelling shirt before venturing in the Buddha Hall. I skipped the 108 prostrations, it's something I really don't need on a trekking, but I was amazed that I managed almost 20 minutes of the Japanese seiza without any pain.
Yes, I was definitely in an almost perfect mood when I was leaving the temple and to make even closer to perfection was a gently drizzling rain. With the drops so small that you don't feel them and they don't wet you, only the air around you becomes cooler and that is something as dream weather for walking. Thirty seconds later I knew how the Egyptian soldiers felt when the Red Sea closed upon them. Seems I shouldn't have skipped the prostrations... Wet as a rat I waited for more than one hour under a roof at Woljeong sa, ate my dinner and finally the rain stopped. It was already dark, here there is no such nonsense as daylight saving hours, but I went on. To find a confortable shelter. As for the moment I have no clue what it is, I just know that it is located on an empty parking lot in the middle of the woods, it wasn't locked and it has electric power. If this post will appear on my blog with a year or so of delay, it means that I was arrested for burglary. I'll try to find out more tomorrow.

Day 2
Woke up early, 5 AM and the first tought was that I need some long sleeved shirt. Long what?? Christ on a cracker, I haven't seen long sleeves since Iwanuma! Lucky for me, I know Gangwon do. It's a place where I was removing snow on April 12th, two years ago. So at the bottom of the backpack I found some better clothes and also decided for the rubber boots. Another good idea. I was sleeping here:

Still have no idea what it's for, maybe for the parking lot keeper when there's something to keep. Did some scouting and found that the Odae Shelter is just 200 m away - but I was really lucky in the dark to first find the alternative for the night. The shelter is closed, it actually looks abandoned. One door was open, it looked like the emergency room to be used when the shelter itself is closed and when I peeked in I almost puked. It reminded me of the shelter I found on Monte Amaro in the Appennini. And that one I had to use because it was 4 below zero and nothing around for kilometers. I love saying that I don't like people in Slovenia and love to make jokes about them, but what's fair is fair - I'll never say a bad word about how they keep the mountains and the huts and shelters there!
At least there's a decent and clean public toilet here, so I shaved and so on and now I'm stuck in it for the last three hours. It's raining cats and dogs outside. Yes, the toilet is clean and spacious and it has power so I'm not using my laptop on battery, but it's still a... toilet. I think I can manage it for two more hours than I go, no matter what weather.
Whoa, this is the Korea I know! I catched a break in the rain and did it to Sangwon sa where it started pouring again. So I'm under a roof, a little bit cold, but I have wireless!
Only 3 km so far for today, but as soon the rain stops I go on Birobong peak and run back down for roof. The morning scenery was enough to make my day, but I want more. Junkies, you know...
Pictures some other time, connection too slow.
Ah yes, I found out where I slept, it's a ranger station.

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