Hot, hot, hot.
86°F (30°C) today, and it felt like it. I've burned and mostly peeled by this point, though, so all I can do now is turn browner and continue to sweat. That's been another problem with this east-coast walk: the weather. I like my fall to be sunny, cool, and windy, with just a few clouds scudding across an otherwise cerulean sky. I've gotten something like that in previous Four Rivers walks. For this walk, though, things have been either too hot or too rainy. Rarely has there been what I'd describe as a perfect day.
Distance: 30-31 km
Time: 432 minutes (about 4.2 kph)
Calories Burned: 5,406
Calories Consumed: 3,824 (deficit = 1,582)
The day actually started out amazingly, but things became draggy by the end. I began the walk in a mountains-and-forests situation, with a winding road featuring biker-only lanes and almost no traffic (but lots of old people up at that hour of the day; I was out the door at 4:35, and the grandparents were already out in force).
I wish the day could have continued in that vein, but I had most of ugly Ulsan to walk through. The route Naver picked for me went far inland to avoid a bunch of zigzagging trails along the edge of several inlets. I avoided the inlets entirely, crossing two major rivers and only occasionally seeing the ocean from afar.
The major consequence of going inland was that I saw the metal guts of Ulsan up close, all pipes and frameworks and billowing smokestacks. You'll get to see a lot of that, too, when you look at today's photo essay, which turned out to be remarkably short at not even 200 photos.
I'm tempted to say that Ulsan might be even worse than Pohang, but Ulsan was actually a lot better when it came to dedicated spaces for walkers and bikers. But whereas most of Pohang's heavy industry was seen at a distance, Ulsan's heavy industry (the city has a bit of everything, including two ports and, I think, two train stations) was up close and in my face. And during many sections of the walk, there was nothing to relieve that oppressiveness—no restaurants, no shops, no residences, nor even any shwimteo or restrooms. When I stopped to rest, I had to do so at random bus stops.
It was actually hard to get a firm read on the shape of Ulsan. After that morning section among mountains and forests, I found myself somewhere in town (Buk-gu, I think: the northern district). Then there was a really long stretch next to a river called the Taehwa (태화강); I even passed by a huge cargo ship that was docked there. There were several long stretches that led me past all sorts of plants and factories; I crossed a second big river called the Waehwang (외황강), or Oehwang, if we stick with the ROK government's romanization scheme. The walk concluded in a more regular part of town; I'm now in Nam-gu, the southern district, and I'll cross into Busan tomorrow.
The whole walk was a confusing kaleidoscope of variegated scenes, and I'm still trying to put it all together in my mind. Maybe part of the problem is that I was inland, not following the coast. I don't know. The coast, with its quasi-fractally repeated sequence of fishing villages, ports, towns, harbors, sashimi neighborhoods, and clusters of pensions, at least makes a certain amount of linear sense. Today's core sample of Ulsan doesn't produce anything coherent in my mind.
Hills were a recurrent motif for today's walk, but mostly, they were long but shallow, a bit like the 5-kilometer monster that leads up to Ihwaryeong on the Four Rivers trail. So while some hills left me breathing a bit hard, there was nothing to challenge or exhaust me.
They're still predicting rain for tomorrow and the following day. Maybe the rain will be a relief after today's heat. The high both tomorrow and the day after is supposed to be 68°F (20°C). But luckily, both walks are short: tomorrow's walk is 19 km; the following day is 21.6. The last day, at 23.4 km, isn't very long, either.
I had another wild thought about swerving in toward Yangsan and spending the night there, then doing the same final-day walk I've done three times before. That would mean missing out on the Westin Chosun, though, and I want my brief moment of luxury and wretched excess.
I normally do an equipment review as part of my walk postmortem, but I can already say that some of my equipment will have to be ditched at the end of this walk. My REI socks are ready to give up the ghost; they've served me admirably since 2008, but the time has come to lead them behind the barn for that bullet in the head. My 2017-era toshi (forearm-protecting sleevelets) now have huge holes in them, so they, too, will have to be tossed.
All my new stuff has held up well and will survive to be used another day: my new goat's foot for my trekking pole has done yeoman's work; my backpack (purchased hastily in Itaewon) has performed like a champ; my new New Balance walking shoes have been great. One thing that's proved unnecessary is my huge roll of Leukotape. I haven't used it once. It has an almost talismanic power, though, so I'll be bringing it with me on subsequent walks.
I'm beginning to wonder whether I may have gained weight over the course of this walk. It wouldn't surprise me: I've been off the chain for almost a month, and even though I'm burning thousands of calories a day by walking for several hours, my caloric deficits (mind you, these are not accurate measurements, either) have been marginal enough for me to think that there's been no progress at all this time around. Weight loss was a big part of the journey back when I was sixty pounds heavier and cruising for a stroke, but I started this walk so much lighter that any weight loss at this point can only come from massive effort, and truth be told, walking 25-ish kilometers a day, day after day, is no longer a massive effort. On my main blog, I'll be exploring the implications of all this once I'm back at the daily grind and returning to keto and fasting and daily exercise. Lots to ponder, with some important lessons learned during this trip.
After taking time to eat lunch on the road, I arrived at the J Motel at almost exactly 2 p.m. No one was in the motel office when I knocked on the window and rang the bell for service; in such cases, most motels leave a placard with a cell-phone number for you to call or text. Calling normally gets an immediate response, but sometimes, texting works better.
I tried calling first, but no one answered. So I sent out a text, and a few minutes later, a lady called me back and explained there were W35,000 rooms and W40,000 rooms available. I shrugged and chose the slightly cheaper option. Confusingly, the lady told me she'd come down to meet me, which motel owners never do, so I waited a few minutes, but she didn't show. She suddenly called me again and asked where I was; I told her I was outside waiting for her, and she said to just come on up, so I did (maybe I misunderstood her, or maybe she was just confused).
The owner turned out to be a nice mom with a little son, maybe three or four years old, who bowed to me politely when he saw me. A well-taught kid, unlike most little apes his age. The room proved to be quite good for W35,000, and I'm currently enjoying blazing-fast WiFi. The motel also had complimentary canned drinks, complimentary coffee sticks, a decent A/C (important today), and a set of charger plugs next to the bed, which I now think of as a necessity.
So—photos. Only 199 this time. Probably even fewer tomorrow and Tuesday because of the rain. So enjoy whatever images actually make it onto these pages.
|monument in the night|
|This road was awesome, and it went on just like this for a few kilometers. I wish the whole path could have been just this.|
|I actually understood the pun, which means it must be pretty dumb.|
|descending into the city proper|
|in town now|
|open in the pre-dawn hours|
|forgot the "X" in choux-crème... cute little bakers, though|
|sign for a temple|
|part of a horse-themed monument/display|
|wide shot of the whole thing|
|It was a strangely foggy morning.|
|the northern district of Ulsan|
|Only someone on LSD would stack tires this compulsively.|
|the right path, apparently|
|What's with all the white roofs?|
|about to walk alongside the Taehwa River|
|a giant cargo ship in the fog (the Glovis?), moored at the riverbank|
|Lord, let me not die alone and unloved, with blood in my mouth and poop hanging lamely out of my ass.|
|so foggy you can't see the other bank|
|The fog starts to lift.|
|I was looking for a place to take a leak when I saw this outcropping of land. But it was filled with people, of course, and as I passed, I saw it had no restrooms.|
|a sign for Asan Street|
|I can't tell which way this sign is supposed to be pointed, and whom it's for.|
|crossing the Taehwa|
|another residential area in Ulsan as the fog burns away|
|I found a place to pee (behind some bushes) right around here.|
|a curiously complex monument|
|I was sure this would be Ulsan Station, but it's not: it's Taehwa River Station. Ulsan Station is 27 kilometers away.|
|the sleeper, in the shadow of a huge public restroom I should have used|
|quite a few tree-lined paths like this|
|hill, one of several|
|I'm guessing the "meta" in "metasequoia" means "really tiny" because there were no sequoias here that looked anything like the giant trees of home.|
|Whale City—Ulsan Southern District|
|This may be the only other Gukto Jongju sign I saw today. I was mostly off the official trail.|
|5 km to the whale museum|
|a bit of modern art that, to me, represented Ulsan perfectly|
|This is Ulsan, so you're going to see a lot of this.|
|There were many long stretches where the scenery barely changed, which is one reason why I took so few pictures today.|
|This building was noisy with the sound of flowing fluids.|
|Gaeun Bridge, crossing the Waehwang River|
|Waehwang River on a hot day|
|pipes running parallel|
|today suddenly turned out to be a banner day for cast-away gloves|
|finally, a restaurant... but I didn't eat here|
|These next gloves were all found within ten meters of each other, a veritable massacre.|
|see the people?|
|like a scene from "Robocop"|
|This pic doesn't do justice to the weird complexity of this building.|
|What's this about?|
|I'd never seen "Chevrolet" hangeulized before. It's shwae-bo-rae. Weird. Why not 셰브롤레 (shye-beu-rol-le)? That would be slightly more accurate, no?|
|sign for a nearby park I'll never visit|
|hwahap = unity|
hyodo = filial piety
|stone for Daeweon Temple|
...but what is Jiam Buddhism? Maybe I know it by its Chinese or Japanese name.
|frog, dramatically splayed like a skydiver, slowly turns into leather|
|When you never trim back the foliage, two bike lanes become one.|
|moving into the civilized part of town again|
|closeup: cultural house?|
|Had I not already eaten lunch, I wouldn't have minded a whole fried chicken.|
|this pun is dad-joke awful|
|at last: the J Motel|
|guarding the fire station next door|