Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Misty Mountains Cold

One of my favourite things about working out in the sticks for a month was definitely what I lovingly dubbed "Wilderness Exploration Day". It wasn't the real wilderness, of course; I didn't have to help Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin dispatch an enormous rampant bear or anything. But, spending over a year in Seoul after spending my entire life in the suburbs of Phoenix qualifies anything with trees as the wilderness, heavily interfered-with though Korean nature is.

There's nothing around the employee "village" (apartment complex) we were staying in - not even a franchise convenience store - save for small, individually-owned farms, vineyards and a smattering of shabby little houses. Across the street there's also a Buddhist temple, and 100 yards or so from that, some wooden steps leading up the small mountain against which it sits. 

The trail mostly exists for the purpose of servicing the power conduit that passes through there, and connecting people with farmhouses and land in the many valleys nestled between the gentle, hilly mountains to the main road.

Yet they still have HDTV. And probably wifi. 

Because it's essentially a service road, the trail is quite easy. Because it's Korean and all but paved with a moving walkway and 7-11 on one side, the trail is quite easy.

Near the start of it there's a fairly large traditional hillside burial site - the likes of which you see all over hills in the countryside - that happened to look prettier than even a Galaxy S4 photo could express.

There's also a tiny trail branching off the main one that leads to a view of the oil refinery, port and the many tiny islands offshore:

I was really impressed when I came upon this view of a farm under a hillside they're trying to restore with new forest and stood appreciating it for a few minutes.

I see you lurking thar, spring...

The second time I went for a merry jaunt I started trying other small trails that went into dense thickets of whatever type of young conifer these trees are. At one point, coming back down a hill from which I thought I could get a good view of the valley below - which I'd turned away and come back up from on account of a large, white, menacing guard dog being held by a rusty chain of indeterminable length - I had to hop over what had become a ditch along the side of the trail, in front of a pair of Korean men. Their conversation stopped dead and their expressions were stony. If anything, I think they were in denial. It's not like I jumped out right on top of them, but I think they much preferred to pretend I had never existed. The second I passed them their conversation resumed exactly as it had left off, without a scoff, surprised exclamation, or anything. I think I made some friends!

If you haven't noticed yet, this post is basically just a massive photo dump. I ended up taking so many pictures on one particular day of intense, eerie fog (mixed with toxic Chinese smog and yellow dust) as well that I figured I'd share them all with people stuck in offices and other places without squirrels.

Actually, that day uncannily resembled Silent Hill, and I set out with the intention of making a Blair Witch-esque movie, complete with the sounds of my own running steps, heavy breathing, the electric buzz of the power cables and the occasional strange bird call in the background. I spent around 2 1/2 hours on the mountain. When I watched the clips later, though, I realised they were more calming than unnerving. Maybe I'll make one nature documentary-esque version and one scary version. Here's the first of the two:

The same cemetery as before, creepily shrouded in mist. OoOooOo.

Better believe I started humming the song, thinking about Richard Armitage's ruggedly handsome portrayal of Thorin Oakenshield and watching out for Ringwraiths.

I mean really, how could I not? This place is Mirkwood-tastic. At one point I even walked through a thick strand of cold dew-covered spider silk. My favourite!

Some parts were more reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow..

This time around I tried a small trail big enough for one person to walk on that branched off one that in turn branched off the main trail. My roommate later told me that she had almost surely taken the exact same one, though she went all the way to its end and I didn't.

It could be dangerous to continue scrolling alone. Here, play this:

And then I came upon this isolated burial site:

"Who the hell would ride a bike up here to service these towers?"

Frost, just barely.

... or maybe "just berries"?

One of my personal favourites.


At first glance I thought someone had written on it. They kind of look like runes.

Another favourite. These tendrils were so damn cool, and so hard to photograph.

I was feeling so Nordic. More black metal was required.

Those smile lines, man, holy shit. I'm old as fuck.

"Hmm, which anti-wrinkle cream is the most br00tal..?"

All I could think of looking at this old stove thing was, "I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!!"