A short walk in the cool spring rain can be romantic or refreshing, but a long walk in the rain is rarely that entertaining. I was ready for the day to be over about three hours into this walk.
There were a few challenging hills during this section: some were steep and short while others were long, shallow, oppressive rises that slowly sapped the will. Luckily, not even the will-sapping hills were that bad.
For most of the morning and part of the early afternoon, there was no one else but me on the trail. Not only are most bikers weekend warriors, they're fair-weather warriors as well. I saw much the same pattern when I used to walk up Namsan. By the end of the day, I had seen at most about five or six bikers.
Today was an adventure. Naver led me along the wrong path, and I ended up going down a road that diverged from the bike path, where I needed to be. When I doubled back and found a point where I could leave the road and pick up the path, I saw that the road and the path were separated by a high, steep embankment covered in vegetation, but with a narrow trail peeking through the verdure.
Heavy as I am, I knew there was no way I'd be stepping onto that path without slipping and sliding down the steep slope to my death. So I pulled a clumsy Jack Bauer, got on one hip, and hip-slid two-thirds of the way down the slope, soaking myself in the process. Luckily, the plants were soft and had no brambles, so it was a safe slide. Still partway above the bike path, I used my trekking pole to right myself and walk the rest of the descent. Exciting way to begin the morning.
Later, I got turned around again, although this time, it was probably my fault and not Naver's. I walked over a bridge that had "Dalseong" (my destination) and "Gangjeong" (my starting point) spray-painted with arrows, and I noticed I was heading in the wrong direction out of Daegu. I stopped when I got to the end of the bridge, took a seat under the span (appreciating a moment's dryness), and looked more closely at what I was doing wrong.
I eventually figured out that I had missed a crucial turn located right at the beginning of the bridge I had mistakenly crossed. So I re-crossed the bridge, found the turn, and was on my way. No navigational problems after that.
I did, however, drop my phone and crack the screen. There's a nice spider web radiating out from the screen's upper-left corner. Great. I had gotten so used to dropping the phone with no consequences that this turn of events was almost startling. Luckily, the phone still works fine. For now.
When I got to Dalseong Dam and hit the convenience store located in the dam's admin building, I asked the checkout girl about motels in the area. She said I should go out the front and follow a sidewalk down the street to some yeogwans that were nearby. I went down to the street... but there was no sidewalk for me to walk safely on. As I entered the dam's grounds again, a gray-haired guard came out and asked me what I was looking for.
"A yeogwan," I said.
"A yeogwan," I said again.
"A mugwan?" the old guy asked. He was determined not to understand me, despite my perfect pronunciation. "Yeogwan" is not a hard word to say.
"A motel," I finally said. Followed by, "A yeogwan," hoping to prime the guy to understand my previous utterance.
The guard ended up telling me what I already knew from Naver: there were a couple motels close by, and many more if I were to walk farther. He asked me what I was doing, and thus began the interview with its Standard Questions. He ended up giving me a bottle of water even though I told him I had a whole tank of mostly unused water on my back. The man was determined not to listen to me.
I ended up walking another kilometer or so until I saw evidence of a town. I checked with Naver and saw there was a yeogwan up the street, so I went there, and here I am.
Tiring day, mainly because of the rain. I've washed and hung up all my clothing in preparation for four days of camping; I'm going to be a reeking nightmare when I wander into town on the fifth day.
Tomorrow's walk is projected to be 22.79 miles (36.67 km). A long one. The first of my three dragons. I hope I can find a decent campsite fairly quickly; I won't be arriving at my destination early. At least I won't have to worry about laundry-related issues.
I'm actually excited to be camping, even though it means more work, and despite the fact that the bivy sack is awkward to use. I'm sure I'll be proficient with the bivy by the fourth day of camping. I'll also finally have the chance to use my filtration system and my purification tablets (actually, I already used the tablets on the day I had massive diarrhea) as I collect drinking water from the Nakdong River itself. This ought to be fun. Arduous, but fun.