Sunday, September 7, 2008


I had finished reading the "Dharma Bums" by Jack Kerouac; a 1950s true-life novel about adventures of cross country travel and mountain climbing; after which I exclaimed "Let's go camping!"

Our plan was designated for Saturday, September 6th. That day, the only cloudy day all week, found our motorcycle roaring down route 3 and route 20 en-route to Jirisan; the second highest peak in the Korean peninsula. On our journey there it started to speckle rain down on our helmet views and camp packings. The tent flew off the back at one point from the bungees thoroughly ruining itself. (I couldn't think of any way to scold the soft fibrous nylon). 

Finally we made it. I was cold as hell in t-shirt and rain, still basking in the fading summer clime. We parked the bike up this windy road where the true entrance was to this sacred park. Boom. Loud clapping dancing rain. Poncho purchase at a nearby shop. Gear ready, dog in tow, approach the entrance; No dogs allowed! Now here is a funny predicament we mused; after all this way with dog in tow, purchasing ponchos we still can't get on any trail because of our dog?

We lamented in a parking facility staying dry. Do we go back, do we wait? We knew camping was out. I took myself and a poncho out for a douse, around this back way where the governing house wouldn't see me. It was wet and gray, and I was alone, but lo-and behold I found alittle marked trail. 

Lucky us it connected with the rest of the park, and we found ourselves journeying through wet dense forest track. Beside us was this huge rocky river downstream. The rocks were glacial. Just huge. It was like a mountain artery. Reds and brown all slippery in the rain. 

So we marched on along until the trail fanned out farther into the woods. It was raining all this time. We did an up hill pine pass that seemed ancient (besides the path) then continued for a long while through a wet and leafy trail that consisted of grassy bamboo. 

My pants were thoroughly soaked through. Shoes muddy. Eyes and mind doubtful of reward. Where was this hike leading us? Surely, we both knew not the peak. The trail we snuck to was not some adventurous peak-seeking stairway, but instead an unkempt mountain river by-way.

We scoffed it, took the dog off the leash and went to the beautiful downhill river of giant rock, that flanked our right side to eat some snack.

We rested, ate, and played in the rain. Samjin; our little dog is basically a cat; he can never fall to his death.

After eating, we knew that we could just follow the river down to our starting point. Since the way there wasn't so nice we figured we'd take the rocky way down. 

The rocks are gianourmous pieces of earth. All of the pieces fit well in this downward puzzle of endless water. Shaped by endless waterfall lashings, all the rocks work together to create a labyrinth of hazards.  This is not a trial, trail, or some safe walk in the rain.

Anyway we were making our way down, witnessing pretty ponds of stopped raging water, giant rocks and general cloud scenery. Slippery climbs downward, keeping the dog in check, carrying him when necessary. 

Most of the way down Samjin found his own feet, but there came a particular rock that was so long and mossy and slippery wet that the three of us decided to skirt the top. We were closest to the wood-line, considering a way past when Samjin decided to nose down to the  edge. 

It was simply to wet and slippery. There was no getting him without falling over the edge. There was no coming back. After several minutes he made a valiant attempt but went slipping down back to the edge he went over. 

Horrified, I slid down another side to see just where the dog landed. When I reached the basin I found him, kicking his head above water (doesn't know how to swim) and was relieved for water to have found him. He dropped about 15 feet into a crystal clear pond!! I walked in to retrieve him. 

Icy cold now, fresh wet and wind swept from mountain air.  We hung out a bit to let the drama pass then continued on.

We got off the rocky down-mountain stream because my nerves were shattered so we headed back into the woods to follow some powerlines back to civilization.

Along that "trail" was some damning moments that may only go down in the archives of my consciousness but eventually we made it back to THE trail and got on that bike and dried ourselves off in the wind on our ride home.

Of course, not the way to do Jirisan. We'll be back. 


Mamio Andretti said...

it took about 1/2 a minute for my heart to start again after your recount of that harrowing trek, although once you wrote that you hiked on wet rocks near a raging river, i started to hold my breath. although i'm glad samjin is ok, the two of you are so very lucky that neither on or you went over a rock. i'll give both of you a good smack for this "little" adventure when i see you in december!

Anonymous said...

Ditto! My heart is STILL pounding - thanks for the jumpstart! You 3 adventure seekers is keeping my L'oreal hair color business very happy! You go Samjin - atta boy! He's definitely coming home to Maw!!! Pooky wooky,kiss,kiss,kiss