I woke up a few times in the shelter – there were a few groups of people who had set alarms for 3 am – I assume they wanted get to Banyabong by sunrise. I finally packed up my sleeping bag around 5:30, and was on the trail by 6. Nogodon pass was pretty in the morning sun.
Around 7:30 I bumped into a woman who spoke some English, although not a great deal, and we chatted for a bit. It turns out she was in a group of about 10 hikers from Seoul and Daejon who had met on a chat room. I met the whole group about 20 minutes later, and the men of the group offered me soju. At 7:50 in the morning, and I thought I still had 7 hours of hiking in front of me. Not wanting to twist my ankle or do anything similarly stupid because of drinking while hiking (plus, it just didn’t sound good), I declined. Here’s the group:
I ended up hiking with them all day – mainly 황규복, but towards the end I was hiking with the guy second from the left on the above picture, with the hat and red hiking gloves. I can’t remember his name :( It was a pretty interesting day, mostly – there was a lot of half english half korean conversation, from which neither party really understood anything that was going on. But I was told I must rest with the group, and we must all go together – so I ended up taking over an hour more breaks than I would have by myself, but I was fed lunch (ramen) and fed soju both at lunch and during a subsequent break – they would not take no for an answer. Here’s 황규복 and a picture found on the Yeonhacheon Shelter outhouse:
Anyhow, later in the day when I was hiking with the second guy, the sky started to get a bit dark. And then it started to get a little windy. This was around 4. It started sprinkling, a little, and I put on my raincoat. Strangely enough, a large number of people that we saw on the trail had umbrellas!! Who on earth takes an umbrella backpacking?! I can’t even imagine what sort of pain in the bum it is to be scrambling over rocks and climbing stairs and navigating the trees with an umbrella. Anyhow, it got really hot in my raincoat, because there were a lot of stairs, so I took it off and let myself get a little wet for about an hour. At one point, the guy I was with said something about ‘600 meters’, and we were cold and a little wet and that was awesome, so we booked it until we saw the next sign…. 1.7km to Seseok shelter. Well, damn. So we kept going, and then it started to get really really windy and it started to pour. I threw on my raincoat, but not my rainpants – and my pants got completely soaked through, and it was crazy cold. Finally we saw a sign – Seseok Shelter, 600 meters – and we went for it as fast as our tired legs could carry us on the slippy rocks without falling. When we got to the shelter, it was PACKED. There were people everywhere. They never even bothered to verify my registration, the staff was so busy, they just gave me a spot. I was ok with that. Here’s a picture I took of the bottom of the shelter the next morning (when it wasn’t raining, but it was quite windy, and there were lots of clouds moving by):
Then I went to cook dinner, and everyone was huddled under this deck – there were some people who’d set up sleeping bags under there, and it took a while to find anywhere i could set my stove. Then, when I finally set it up, it was wet and there was so much wind that I couldn’t light it. There were a few minutes there where I thought I wasn’t going to get dinner, and that was a very sad thought after hiking 12 hours. Then I realized that there might be some room in the field kitchen – and I ran over there, completely re-soaking myself in the process, but thank god. the field kitchen had a roof, and walls, and it was almost warm in there with the heat of so many stoves and bodies. I didn’t find a place to put my stove for about ten minutes, and even then it took me a few tries to get it going because my hands were frozen, but in the end i had lasagna. It was glorious. I got a lot of ‘what on earth does she have?’ looks from everyone else, who all had kimchi and many of them had either something involving tuna or meat in a leaf.
So after dinner I ran back to the shelter and set up for bed – they had lines up in the shelter above the bed spots where you could hang wet stuff, so all of my clothes and me raincoat went up there, and because the shelter was heated a bit it all dried overnight! I slept well, even despite the gaggle of ajummas that woke up at 3 and talked, rather loudly, for 15 or 20 minutes as they got their stuff together to leave.