Screw the melancholy, I'm posting anyways! I'm headed to Japan for my vacation on Friday (the tickets are BOOKED, and no-one can take them away from me!), so maybe that will break it for good. I suspect that this is stage two of culture shock (ie. rose-coloured glasses coming off, disillusionment setting in) finally hitting me, a little delayed.
On Sunday I went up a mountain and had a really great day. It was insane and amazing, as per usual. To quote one of the younger guys "It's a shorter trekking course, so we will be drinking more quickly." Short my butt. 6 hours later I had a hard time getting back in the van, both because I'd consumed more than my fair share of soju and because it was STRAIGHT UP for 3 kilometres, and then 4 additional kilometres of undulating ridge, and then STRAIGHT DOWN for another 3 kilometres.
The ridge itself was amazing. It was like walking along the top of a giant curtain or along the battlements of some huge castle. On either side, sheer rock cliffs dropped straight down for hundreds of feet onto the snowy forest floor. Meanwhile, we scrabbled along a narrow, icy path clinging to bushes and the occasional rope - and putting a lot of trust in our super spiky cleats. It's annoyingly hard to get photos in those places because its really hard to get out the camera and still stay on top of the ridge.
The day was dark and very hazy, so the quality of these is not great. Plus, they just don't do justice to the steepness of the hill - something very difficult to really capture.
|Yes, that sign supposedly points to the "trail."|
|A view of the summit (background), and the smaller cliff-like knoll we cross to get there. Through the trees, because I was too lazy to get out my big lens.|
|Eventually the ascent culminated in this monstrosity. Under the ice you could still see water moving, and it was definitely not super frozen! I have no clue where it was coming from though, since this seems to just come over the top of the ridge!|
|This was right after the guy in the orange gators told us a story about how they were climbing it last year and the whole thing collapsed under them.|
|At least if I die after drunkenly stumbling over the edge of a frozen water fall, my last view will be this.|
|Tough summit. Reads "Degga san"|
|First person view. My poor MEC gators were entirely disparaged by the Koreans (they didn't like the string tie ups under the heel - should have been a cable and a buckle). |
It almost felt like spring with the melting, sticky snow !
|Perhaps the most interesting thing about this trip was the amount of wild life sign I saw. The guys in the front actually saw a wild pig, and I saw PILES of pig tracks, like these, in the snow. There were even places where they had been wallowing in the thawing mud, and had spread the muck through the snow way up the trail as it dripped off their hairy bellies! You could see the splatter marks. There's no way that they were more than a few hours ahead of us.|
I also saw rabbit, deer, and some little cat-like paws prints that looked like ferret. Most fascinating were some BIG cat prints that were described to me as "Korean Jaguar" prints.
|A little over exposed, but I was really struck by the blue rocks, the even bluer ice and the yellow grass.|
Look out for a post on my highschool camp (with photos) before I leave for Japan. I know for me it was a BIG question of "what they heck am I going to do to entertain twenty boys for ten hours?" I actually worked with my coteachers for the first time...sort of. Overall it was an entertaining and slightly frustrating experience. This week I have "conversation class," which is exactly the same as camp except I have no budget and no help. I feel like this is something I need to write about, because it's NOT something EPIK prepares you for in the least, but its something that those waiting in the wings will want to hear.
I'm off to bed. The boys requested Ultie in the snow tomorrow...and I am powerless against both a) their adorable enthusiasm and b) the prospect of playing ultimate. It counts as conversation class because they are learning valuable English words like "up" and "disc" and "stall" and "stack" and "huck" and (their favourite) "LAAAAAYOOOOOOOUT!" Yeah. Lets go with that.