We just started - and we're almost there!
After rough start in the rain, the weather cleared and we've had a beautiful stretch of perfect fall hiking. We were so enthusiatic about nearing the end and the weather that we hiked for 11 days in a row. Our bodies finally told us we needed to take a break, which brings us to the quaint ski town of Hwoeingye, part of Pyeongchang county - a candidate city for the 2018 winter Olympics. We splurged and are spending two whole nights in a wonderful (as in not shady love motel) clean inn with a kitchenette. This morning involved sleeping as late as we wanted after an evening spent watching bad movies on tv and not doing any laundry or logistics planning!
We've figured out we have about four or five days of acutal hiking left, with a couple of days needed to get around the various closures in the national parks. It's a weird feeling that we are actually nearing the end. This ridge holds suchs a huge place in mind my and continues to draw me back into Korean culture, the language and the food. I can easily see how our friend Roger Shepherd became so drawn into the Great Ridge and all of the subsidiary ridges. Something about not just Korea, but the trail itself pulls and continues to pull harder the more you explore it.
There are so many things to describe about the past couple of weeks. A lot of the hiking has been in fairly remote areas, the northern part of the trail being higher and further away from habitation. We have encountered larger farms - especially cabbage farms, some so large we've seen backhoes being employed to till the poor soil up here - and a lot more industrial activity such as logging, a cement factory, numerous mines, a rock quarry, wind farms and a sprawling ranch that has converted the landscape into something more reminiscent of Scotland or Wales. It gets the mind going alot about the effect of economic growth, human population growth and the growth of consumerism has on the landscape. In a country that is still so closely connected to the landscape - we frequently meet foragers and see the effects of selective gathering on the understory of the forest - it is an interesting contrast on older and newer ways in which humans interact with and affect the landscape. It's also interesting to see how that plays out in another culture - to see their constant back and forth between conservation and economic growth - especially in a country so rapidly growing and moderninzing as Korea.
There is lots to say, especially about all the amazing people we have met over the past week, but I think I will save that for later, perhaps once we are back in Seoul. For now I will leave you with some pictures - for those of you not on Facebook. Enjoy.