518 minutes walked
23.24 miles walked
3811 calories burned (probably 3200 net)
I estimated that I would be able to walk from Chilgok Dam to Gangjeong* Goryeong Dam in about seven or eight hours, and that's what I did, arriving, as projected, between 2PM and 3PM at the certification center after an hour-late start (I overslept after turning off my alarm). It took me another hour to walk into town and find a motel; I used the last of my phone's battery power to do so.
So now I'm in Daegu. My old stomping grounds. Strange to be back, and strange to find myself in a big city after weeks of participating—more or less—in a relatively quiet, riverbank-ish existence. The walk here wasn't particularly challenging, except in terms of sheer time and distance. It's Monday, so there weren't nearly as many bikers out as on the weekend, and many folks on the trail were distant and failed to greet me when I greeted them. For the non-greeters, I merely muttered "Asshole" and moved on.
I have a little over 200 kilometers to go before the end. This means I'm barely beyond the halfway point, despite being all the way down in Daegu: it's a 550-km trip total, so the halfway point was at 275 km. When you look at a map, you see that Daegu is right on top of Busan, so it really seems as if I'm almost all the way to my goal, but in reality, the Nakdong River contains plenty of twists and turns, so this is far from a linear journey. In a mountainous country, rivers have little choice but to flow through crooked valleys.
Tomorrow will be my last yeogwan night for a while: after tomorrow, I'm camping for four days straight because there seems to be no available lodging for that stretch. After today, that may be a relief: I won't have to go far out of my way to find a place to sleep; instead, I can just plop down somewhere, then pack up in the morning and leave straight from the same site. Convenient.
Hard to believe that this amazing journey is entering its final week (as of tomorrow), but there we are: my three dragons lie ahead, but once they're done, I rest two nights in an inn, then power through the final seventeen or so miles on the last day, preferably with my favorite juice in my CamelBak ripoff. Assuming no hitches, May 16 (a Tuesday) will be the day I finish, acquiring my last** stamp and touching the waters that lead to the open sea. At that point, if no one is there to meet me and drive me back to Seoul, I'll spend a night or two in the local Toyoko Hotel (there are two near the Busan train station; I'll be hitting #1), just resting and savoring my accomplishment. If someone does take me back to Seoul the very same day, then... I guess I'll be going back to Seoul the very same day!
It promises to be cool and rainy over the next two days. A good test for the camping equipment. Tomorrow's walk will be wet but short. After Wednesday, I think there's no more rain for me to worry about for the rest of my trek.
*Whenever I hear "gangjeong," I think of crispy chicken poppers, which are called dak-gangjeong in Korean. See here.
**Well, not really my last stamp: I missed a stamp from the part of the path that I skipped.
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