Monday, April 24, 2017

Walk Thoughts #54: Days 2 & 3, Leg 2

What a day yesterday was.

I walked nearly 57,000 steps. My pedometer tells me I crossed 26.66 miles, which is slightly more than a marathon. I took increasingly frequent breaks as the day wore on, and I would have run out of water had I not stopped at a rest area to buy some at a convenience store run by an older gentleman with only one hand.

I nearly used up one of my phone batteries during the 12.5 hours that I walked, which made me glad that I had thought ahead and brought both a spare battery-- fully charged-- as well as my portable charger au cas où. Late in the trip, I switched out one battery for another so I could continue consulting my map and taking photos.

Speaking of photos: you'll have noticed the batches of pics that I've already published. Most of the images are self-explanatory; all of them are enlargeable by right-clicking and choosing "show image in new tab."

A few pics might require some explanation. The Paldang Dam features prominently early on; you can also see that I went through several tunnels and over quite a few bridges, my trekking pole creating a satisfying thumping noise as I crossed each span.

When I was at that rest stop, I sat with a dude who was doing the police-force option for his military service. He was on break, and he told me he was also doing the Seoul-Busan route, but on a bike. Big, burly guy named Kim Seung-ho. Friendly, too. I wonder how he'll be after ten years in the force. Anyway, before he left, I got him to sign my Moleskine. I also talked with a family (no picture of them) that was curious about what I was doing. The daughter initiated the conversation with a "hello," and we talked about the US and Europe. Some old ladies at the rest area tried to offer me some ddeok (chewy rice cakes like Japanese mochi), but I waved them off, saying I had to lose weight. The ladies cackled.

I also inadvertently solved a mystery. Among my uploaded photos, you'll see one of a crossing in which the green signal shows the words "서행" (seo-haeng), meaning "slow." You may recall that I had seen the same words on both sides of the local creekside bike path, and had originally thought they meant "westward." I came up with a justification for "westward" when I looked more closely at a map and noticed that the path does indeed form a left-facing "V" on its side, with each spoke of the "V" pointing westward: NW and SW, respectively. But I now know that 서행 has nothing to do with moving westward: it's simply a caution to go slowly. Live and learn.

Passed a ton of Sunday bikers, some of whom greeted me in a friendly way, some of whom ignored me when I nodded at them. I should probably take pictures of the huge pelotons that pass by me, but I don't know how many there'll be now that the weekend is over.

By the time I reached my destination of Yangpyeong, I was dead on my feet. Frustratingly, I was unable to find the certification center that was supposedly by the modern-art museum, so I instead took some pictures of the sculptures outside the museum, which was closed at 6PM on Sunday.

Because I had wasted so much time and distance that morning in trying to find a way across Paldang Bridge, I allowed myself the indulgence of taking a taxi to the nearest yeogwan, which turned out to be a place called River House. Yangpyeong seemed to have only two taxis serving the whole city; I waited a long time before one cabbie proved willing to take my fare.

At River House, the day's aches caught up with me. Moving painfully, I somehow did my laundry in the sink (shampoo, with its grease-cutting chemicals, makes for a fragrant substitute for detergent), then I took a shower using fairly cool water so as not to inflame my boiled-lobster sunburns.

I have SPF 50 lotion, which I applied twice during yesterday's walk, to no avail. I suspect I need to apply it almost hourly to have any effect, which will mean carrying the lotion in one of my cargo pockets. I sweat a lot and wipe my face frequently, which makes applying lotion problematic. I still expect to go through my aforementioned burn-peel-tan cycle, and as for the possibility of skin cancer, well, I'm lucky to work across the hall from a skin clinic, which I'll be visiting once I'm back from this walk.

If I finish the walk. Yesterday's trek was beautiful, as amazing as the first day, but it was also painful and made me doubt myself. I had planned the walk such that I wouldn't be on the road more than 8 hours a day; yesterday was a rude awakening that, even with planning, things can and will go awry. Now, my worry is that I'll end up doing so many two-night hotel stays that I'll use up all my allotted extra days and won't be able to finish the walk.

I blame Naver Map for this predicament. Using my pedometer as a reference, I see that, on Day 1, I walked 135% of Naver's projected distance. On Day 2, I walked 153% of Naver's projected distance, which is fucking crazy. Tomorrow's walk is supposed to be comparatively short, but if we multiply the projected distance by 1.4 (the average of 130 and 150 percent), we're in for another long, painful trudge. And it's going to be hilly, too, based on a look at the contour lines.

Like yesterday, tomorrow's walk will, in theory, take me past two certification centers, so I'm aiming to collect two more stamps. At least there's that.

So here I am, at the River House Motel, lying in bed and keeping my right foot off the ground as much as possible. Staying an extra day was a wise choice, I think, but I can do this only maybe five or six more times before I run out of vacation days. My feet need to harden up even more than they did during training; they have to be equal to 40% more than the anticipated burden.

Regarding food: per my schedule, I fasted on Day 1 and ate a Mountain House dinner yesterday (lasagna!). This morning, ahead of schedule, I ate an MRE as a way to begin cutting down my pack's weight. Once all the MREs are gone, my pack will weigh 3.75 kg less (8.25 lbs.). If I run out of my own food ahead of schedule, it's no big deal: as readers have pointed out, I can always eat in town. There are also eateries catering to bikers along the trail, so there's no shortage of food and drink as long as I keep on walking.

Regarding my backpack: my chest strap gave out the very first day; luckily, I packed a spare: a long, black, adjustable strap that I loop around the shoulder straps at chest level. I then stuff a handkerchief under one strap and a washcloth under the other to keep the straps from biting into my armpits and causing that weird, heart-attacky feeling (which I felt anyway yesterday). Gregory needs to rethink its strap design. I almost want to buy a poolside foam tube, cut it into segments, then use those segments as extra padding for the shoulder straps. It would look ridiculous but be oh-so-comfortable.

I'm going to limp out, in a bit, to fetch some drinks for tonight and some bottled water for the trail (so much better than pipe-tasting tap water). I can put weight on my blistered foot now, and even if I'm still in pain tomorrow, I know I can tough it out. I'm gambling that it's better to get this blistering nonsense out of the way earlier rather than later. Over the course of several weeks, the feet will harden up.

By the way: yesterday's love motel ran me W85,000 for a single night. My current yeogwan costs only W35,000 a night for slightly smaller accommodations. Go figure.

1 comment:

Charles said...

I don't know if you are experiencing swelling in the legs/feet, but if you are, make sure to elevate your legs above your heart when resting (lying down and putting your legs up on pillows works).

It sucks that you did not have access to accurate mileage (kilometerage?) for the route. You would think something like that would be readily available, especially if a lot of people bike the route.