Friday, May 10, 2019

my route has been chosen for me

After I turn 50 in August, I'll be looking forward to another trans-Korea walk, probably from late September to late October. Many moons ago, I wrote that I'd been thinking about which route I'd walk, and I expressed interest in doing the coastal route, a path that got completed only a year or so ago, and that stretches about 720 kilometers from roughly Gangneung in the north to Busan in the south. At a rate of about 25 km per day, I could do the walk in 29 days, assuming no breaks. If, however, I were to redo the Seoul-to-Busan walk I did in 2017, I know I could do that walk in 26 days, which would include three rest days.

After discussing the matter with my team leader, I've come to the conclusion that the company is going to be too tight-fisted to allow me to take a full 30 days off to do this walk. That means I can't do the coastal walk at all this year, so my route has been chosen for me: I'll be doing the original Four Rivers walk again, only this time, it'll be from the tail-end of summer to the beginning of fall. The weather in Korea, from late September to late October, goes from borderline hot to decidedly cool. By the time I'm finishing my walk, the nights might even be a touch cold, but that won't be a problem as long as I'm either motelling it or tucked into a warm sleeping bag for the night.

Redoing the 2017 walk won't be disappointing at all. I know the route now, and I know its demands. It'll be like meeting up with an old friend, and I'll have the chance to re-see some memorable sights. I also know that I won't need even half of what I took with me last time, so my backpack will be comparatively light. How light? In 2008, back when I had no real experience with distance walking, my pack weighed around 60 pounds (27.2 kg). In 2017, thanks to accumulated hiker's wisdom, my pack weighed about 35 pounds (15.9 kg) at the beginning of every day. This time around, now that I know this particular trail so well, I think I can get the pack under 18 pounds (8.2 kg), including a full hydration bladder (God, I hate typing "bladder"). With a proper hip-belt assembly around my waist, an 18-pound pack will feel like nothing, thus making this upcoming walk a much better experience.

So that's the scoop. Assuming I do walk this coming fall, I'll be taking the 2017 route.

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