Walking Jeju – Olle 19
BY nightfall I’d found my way to the glitzy boulevard of Hamdeok. The weather had been bleak and dizzily for the bulk of the day and it was a relief and if not some just reward to find a burger joint in which to celebrate my days traipsing. For there is nothing greater to lift ones spirits after an arduous journey than to gormandize upon a big fat juicy burger and to sup an ice cold beer.
Bloated and content I set up camp by the beach and watched the night lights of the boulevard twinkle away until I fell asleep.
I packed up camp in the dark and as light forced closer it seemingly struggled to break through a sullen set of cloud cover. And then suddenly, as if by a flick of a switch a heavy gale pronounced itself and darkness encircled Hallasan; certain doom had arrived on Jeju. I clambered for cover in a sheltered car park as palm trees proceeded to bend double and sand particles trailed the air like airborne razor blades. Every day the weather crept closer to dissatisfactory, I’d do well to wrap up events soon. Maybe as soon as… today? After all, I only had 48.3km to cover. Eventually I couldn’t wait any longer, eager for some obscure reason to see how the storm of dawn was represented elsewhere along the coast. I‘d soon notice some other campers on another section of beach struggling to keep their tents from leaving orbit. The choice to pack up camp before dawn proving to have been a wise one. The route tracked inland through a heavily forested area to the peak of Seewoo-bong. This section of the Jeju Olle guidebook consists of some vaguely composed wording: “There might be a breakdown in communications, Gotjawal forested areas in this area are not appropriate for walking alone, particularly for women.”
Under the grey dreary skies the forest was a dark and lonely place, trees packed tightly together that rustled and creaked under the prevalent winds. There are stories of murders across the island and along some of the Olle’s very own trails, and I could see how it might be deemed an unsettling place. The only dangers and annoyances I encountered however was a constant supply of spider web facials.
I muddled on safe enough, letting the Olle’s orange and blue ribbons guide me back to the coast. I’d stretched a tendon in the sole of my foot by the end of the course. I couldn’t possibly trudge/limp another 28.9 km today, could I?