Sunday, February 03, 2019


The hat is soaked. The coat is soaked. The windbreaker inside my coat is soaked. My hair is soaked. And I'm back at my place. Hear now my tale of woe.

Mission aborted. I got about 40 minutes out, then decided to turn around and tromp back home. A big part of the reason why was that I was getting soaked.

But where's that poncho? you ask, and rightly so: where, indeed?

The poncho got left on my bed when I made a command decision to forge ahead without it. You see, I knew I could wear the poncho either under the backpack or over it, but I hadn't considered what exactly happens when you try either option. As it turns out, wearing the poncho under the backpack makes it impossible to cinch the hip belt closed. Perhaps this wouldn't be a problem for a skinnier person, but I was on my final belt hole when I tried cinching the belt closed over my winter coat, without the poncho on. Once the poncho was on, closing the belt became impossible. So I thought it'd be a breeze simply to put on my backpack first, then throw the poncho over the entire assembly. That proved to be a fiasco: the poncho got caught on the backpack every time I tried to toss the back part of it over my head. I contemplated using my trekking pole to poke and prod the stubborn fabric until it finally fell over the backpack, but then I asked myself whether I'd be willing to struggle with the poncho repeatedly over the course of this walk. In the end, I decided the poncho was too much trouble. It feels like a waste of money now.

Having firmly decided not to use the poncho, my next decision was whether to try braving the rain without it, or to wait another day for the rain to stop, then maybe do a two-day walk instead of a four-day walk. The thought of not doing the walk was painful to me, so in the end, around 6 a.m., I stepped out the door without any rain gear, hoping that the thickness of my coat and the air-trapping properties of my non-water-resistant windbreaker would somehow keep me warm.

After 40 minutes of walking, I finally realized my foolishness: I was soaked and cold, and my head had no real protection from the rain and the temperature. There was a long moment when I just stood there, looking at the path ahead, then swiveling and looking at the return path. Finally, grudgingly, my feet turned me around, and I trudged back to my apartment.

I suppose I could still do a two-day walk. The weather on Monday and Tuesday ought to be fine. I could even walk two days out to Yangpyeong, stay overnight, then take the local train back to Seoul the following morning. That would be 60 kilometers instead of 120, and some might say that, for a person who loves distance walking, that's better than nothing. I don't know... I'd had my heart set on a four-day walk, but Mother Nature decided to fuck things up by randomly sending rain my way. I'm angry and a bit depressed right now, and mad at myself for not prepping better. Back when I was struggling with the poncho earlier this morning, it occurred to me belatedly that US soldiers would doubtless have some method for wearing the poncho plus their regular gear. But I didn't want to waste time researching the matter when my launch window was once again closing.

Well. Live and learn, I guess. This whole affair feels lame, but when I think about it, the whole thing has felt wrong from the start. Maybe this is the cosmos's way of saying, You're a pussy. Stick to spring and fall weather. It's what you do best.


John Mac said...

Well, damn. That actually sucks. Think you made the right decision though. And if you had started yesterday you would have really been fucked today. The long road will be there for the next time.

Charles said...

Well, that sucks.

It was a very miserable morning. I was thinking about you as we drove to church through the steady rain, although I see now that you were already back home by then.

Again, I agree with John, though. I do understand your frustration, but no sense being miserable just for the sake of sticking it out.

Kevin Kim said...

Thanks for the kind words, fellas. Bill Keezer also sent a reassuring email telling me not to think of myself as a wuss for bagging on the walk. His concern was hypothermia, which was kind of my concern as well, especially when I'd hit the 40-minute mark and could feel the cold rain soaking past my windbreaker.