Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Incheon Walk, Day 2 assessment


Just as happened on my big walk, I've acquired a blister on Day 2. Humorously, it's in exactly the same spot as last time: on my right foot, on the pad between my third and fourth toes. Hurts like a bitch, but again, as before, I'll just walk on through it. One either gets used to the pain, or the pain goes away after a while; phenomenologically and functionally, there's no practical difference. Not for me, anyway.

I'm at Techno Motel in Incheon. At W50,000 a night, it's more expensive than Dream Hotel had been, but at least the plumbing seems okay: no weak toilet flushes and no leaky/splashy sink drains. My walk tomorrow will be significantly shorter than either today's or yesterday's walks: Naver has my distance for tomorrow at 25.87 km. I cheated* today and took a cab from the seaside to the motel; the cab ride was so long that I began to think that walking that distance, after having walked about 30 km to reach the shore, would have been insane. To get the cab—because there were no cabs by the shore—I reinstalled my old nemesis, Kakao Taxi. This time around, there were no fuck-ups, and the cabbie proved friendly and chatty. I told him about the current walk, then tied that in with my April/May walk to Busan. The driver was suitably impressed, and he said he envied me. He also said he was an avid mountain hiker, and he recommended a spot at Seorak Mountain where you can pay W7000 to spend a night in simple lodgings, and spend your day both eating down-home mountain-style food and hiking up and down various trails, which are apparently quite beautiful this time of year.

Having now done the entire Seoul-to-Incheon route, I can characterize the Ara Canal trail as mostly flat, with only a few exceptions. Terrain-wise, the path is the temperamental opposite of the Nakdong River trail, with its monstrous and unending inclines. If the Nakdong is an angry, writhing Korean dragon, the Ara is a dragon that is stretched out and taking a nap. My blister, then, is simply the result of raw distance and time—and my weight, of course.

I met some traveling companions along the way today: tons of bright, poison-colored orb weavers, and quite a few praying mantises adopting various kung fu poses. I even got a picture of a dragonfly. The arthropods were out in force. During one tree-lined section of the route, I saw an orb weaver in almost every tree, and I began to think of each spider as a sort of guardian demon for its respective bit of vegetation.

My feet were hurting by the final ten or twelve kilometers; I managed to keep a respectable pace, but I think that that effort is what brought on the blistering. I'll be curious to see how much worse things get by the end of the week. We have to work on Friday, so I may be limping into the office the way one of my coworkers does (he injured his ankle earlier this year, then re-injured it during our recent retreat).

Naver Map's phone app hasn't been as accurate this time around: the GPS plot of my position keeps bouncing around, so I'm forced to navigate in a more old-school way by following the blue line of the plotted path and ignoring the constantly shifting dot that marks my progress across the map. To help with navigation when it's hard to reckon direction by the sun, I installed a compass app, a while ago, that has occasionally proved useful. But overall, it's hard to get lost when you're following long stretches of waterway.

There doesn't appear to be a stone to mark the end of the Gukto Jongju: instead, as you see in my photos, there are indications on the ground that show both a start (at 0 km) and an end (at 633 km) for the cross-country path. A large arch with the English word "FINISH" is the threshold through which you pass on your way to the final (or first) certification center. The seaward view is a bit anticlimactic: the ocean panorama is interrupted by offshore islands and some far-off structure that looks like a causeway or a bridge or something. If you cast your gaze due west over that man-made structure, you're looking out at the sea. Once I had stamped my final stamp, I stood around for a few minutes before walking a half-kilometer up to the hyugeso, the rest area where I ate a ddukbaegi bulgogi meal, bought some sodas, then used Kakao Taxi to summon my ride.

Oh, yeah: when I Kakao'ed my driver, he called me, before arriving, to say that we'd be passing through a toll area on the way to my motel, so I'd need to pony up for that. I told him that that would be no problem. When I actually met the driver face to face, he said he'd suddenly heard that, because it's the Chuseok holiday, no toll would be charged, and we could just drive on through the toll area. I ended up giving the driver a huge tip for his entertaining banter, and for his kind offer to deliver homemade songpyeon, special rice cakes, right to my hotel room.

So now, it's the two-day walk back to my apartment, and I won't be taking any photos. Day 3 will be shorter, as I mentioned above. Day 4 will be the same as Day 1, and I'll likely be staying once again at the Dream Hotel. Here's hoping I get a better room this time. Either that, or I'll pick a motel in the neighborhood that has a raunchier name and, I hope, better facilities.

ADDENDUM: I forgot my pedometer stats. Here they are:

462 min of walking time
46,109 steps (99.8 steps/min)
22.93 miles walked (dubious)
3558 calories burned (gross)

*While I felt a twinge of guilt about taking a taxi, I reasoned that I had still managed to walk the rest of the Gukto Jongju. I have now done the full 600-some kilometers. (633 km, according to the signage at the seashore.)