I met a venomous pit viper in the woods today! I have been hiking a lot, because my bike isn't here yet, and my knees haven't been feeling up to running. And I live on the side of a mountain, with awesome hiking trails. If you follow the university campus to the terminus at the uphill end of campus there is a hiking road (an ollegil) and a trail. The trail I walked on twice, but especially when it has recently rained, it gets a bit mucky. Despite my initial resistance to walking on the road, which looked so uninspiring, I finally went up and discovered that it goes quite a distance. The first couple of times I couldn't go the whole way, because the road crew was working, but during the holiday I went to the end of it. I have also talked, twice, with a member of the road crew. I have learned it is 3 kms long, and they're able to build about 1.5 kms a year before they run out of money. The money is coming from the city of Yong'in, not the university, and the land is owned by a variety of people, foundations, and the city. The lower half was completed last year and is better landscaped. When they feel it necessary, they've roughly paved it (the lowest end of the paving has culverts to direct the water), this is mostly on the switchbacks (it climbs steadily). Mostly it's packed sand and gravel, until the new section, which is still constantly churned up dirt. I met the pit viper because they were working on the road today, before the nice trail down the mountain (a wide and well maintained trail), which allows me to make a giant 3.5 mile circuit. So I decided to explore up a narrow almost unnoticeable trail. In a short skirt and footie socks... leaving much too much ankle and calf exposed to snakes! I had been warned about snakes and previous serious snake bites, but hadn't given it much thought until I met this sucker today-- two feet long, at least, with a diamond-like head that just said to me "I'm a scary snake." There are about 15 kinds of native snakes in Korea, I looked through the photos and identified him after I got home. He was a bit cold and moving slowly, but we did have a stand off for awhile as I hoped he'd move off the trail (more like opening between the trees) and he stopped for a break.
There is also a lot of great and less strenuous hiking to be done down in the agricultural areas around here.
This weekend there is a huge festival, but I decided not to go because I feel too pressed to get things done for my classes, and since my computer is too fragile to move, I can't do class planning and prep in a yogwan room in Andong. It's a 9 day festival, I will go next week. I don't feel like I have a choice-- the festival is that important! I also was lured to attend a local performance this Saturday... I went, but it was rained out, so I guess I just took a long bus ride, and that's all.
|The lower section of the Ollegil looks very nice, with lots of cosmos, because it was finished more than a year ago. Some sections with more erosion danger are paved.|
|Late afternoon sun shines on some trees making it look even more like fall is coming (it is!)|
|Near the end of the hiking road (Ollegil) they are still in the thick of their work to stabilize the road bed|
|At this point it was very dark, but this is what the path down the mountain looks like at first... if you look upwards. It's a staircase... pretty steep!|