I slept a lot later than I thought!! Something about a warm floor. . .
I determined that my trials in Vietnam were all set to make me appreciate Korea more. it seems so efficient. . . as I was driving from Nonsan to Jinan, I see a sign pointing out my highway, 1, next right at intersection. I end up going on this obvious farm rode-- but it's paved! In Vietnam and Cambodia, there are no highways, much less expressways to speak of. Motorbikes, bicycles, oxcarts use the same roads as busses and trucks (esp in Vietnam, which has a terrible accident rate). Anyway, I felt like an idiot. I am back in Korea, where streets have 6 lanes and provincial roads are divided. . .
I thought I got a late start, but I am texted by Ian that he had a long wait for the bus in Daegu. . . so I take my time and get some coffee in Jeonju and get some mileage info for Maisan. As soon as I pull into jinan, Ian calls-- he just arrived. I go to get him (and mind you, my car is filled. I haven't had a chance to go through it yet, but I left a lot of stuff in there. I barely fit Ian. . .) and he has met Seungbin (who is carrying a climbing rope) who is waiting to meet Lindsey. Seungbin is a student living in Jeonju attending Jeon-buk. He studied in the USA and Canada, and he enjoys climbing. I guess he and Lindsey have bonded! Excellent timing so she won't feel too isolated in Jinan. His English is excellent. . . anyway, they were heading to a regional bouldering comp in Gwangju tomorrow. . .
We get to Maisan, check out the easy climbs (maybe 5.6-- one bolted climb with another anchor a meter to the right so two topropes might go at the same time). I should talk to Peter to get the exact details (grades, FA, height) for the book. Lindsey had told me about these routes Peter and a friend were putting in, in particular for their guiding. Good for folks learning to lead, too. Anyway, it was useful to scope and verify info for my book. We did get a little stuck in route matching, as there were some cases of seemingly random bolts? The only other group there were a group from Wonkgwang University in Iksan. The woman remembered me from last fall, when Erin, Lindsey and I stopped by after that first trip to Hagampo Beach! It poured and we were loving it, even as another Korean group was starting up the routes in the pourdown. Lindsey was brand-new to Jinan, and I was showing her the routes in her own backyard, having failed to get her home in time for church. . .but I digress:)
It was pretty sunny, but because we got such a late start we climbed into the cool evening. I moved my car to the gate of the (closed) campground. The road into the park was open and no-one was at the ticket booth anymore. There was plenty room on side of my car if anyone was to need to enter. that said, it might be noted that my car stands out in Korea, where no self-respecting person would drive something in as bad of shape as my 1994 Hyundai Elantra. What isn't dented is rusted. But the battery and breaks are new!! Her name is Cha Cha. Cha being the word for car in Korean, and Cha Cha being the first female dragster driver, and a childhood hero. It's getting dark and the park is amazingly empty for a Saturday night. The parking lot was full with day-trippers. Now a few restauranteurs beckon us (well, shout out to us!!)
By then we were both starving. No day in the mountains, even if climbing is merely walking to the end of the paved road, is complete in Korea without a meal, preferably with some alcohol. Most of the restaurants offer the same: for vegetarians: moutain vegetables with rice; for meat eaters, the local specialty: black pork. Many people come to Maisan just for the food (Jinan is also known for Ginseng). Last time here, we discovered a particularly good restaurant, though, with especially good side-dishes. This time, they are closed, so we backtrack to the last guy who is calling us back.
I get the Veggies and Ian gets the pork and we get some dong-dong-ju (similar to makkoli, and popular after a day in the mountains), a rice wine. We are not disappointed! At times, the owners 4 year old (a rather, um, large child whi looks and acts much older) is a little much (like when we want to eat) but she's also pretty bright and in appropriate doses, cute! The sides are plentiful and good. We eat a lot! We stay awhile. . . the woman remembers me from a previous visit (I think with Rick and Yatsko, but maybe with Jason S. . .?!) She is from Jeonju, Pyeonghwa-dong.
After the meal, we head back to the camp ground, grab what we need and head down the road. Sadly, all the beautiful new buildings: large meeting rooms, bathrooms, showers, cleaning/cooking areas are closed. . . but we do find a row of huge sturdy tents with large wooden platforms inside. the doors zip open. Score: we put up my tent (hmmm. . . I didn't remember it being in such shape?). . . my car is getting really bad as I dig though the perfectly packed trunk to get the tent, look for thermals. . .I head out to brush teeth, etc. . . the park built some really nice (foam toilet) bathrooms right by the turnoff to the trail. . . I head up there. The park was so quiet. there was a beautiful shiny black SUV in the gravel lot by the bathrooms. I consider this a place to move my car tomorrow, rather than back to the parking lot. It is so quiet. Only one car has passed. I look out onto the lake, at the building that extends over the water. There is a gate one can step over blocking the bridge to the building. The swan paddle-boats for hire (along with one dragon paddle-boat) are floating along the edge, and the whole scene is so quiet that I step over the gate and walk across the bridge. . . around the building. . . looking out. . . oh, wait. . . I go back to get Ian and invite hime out. It's so nice to have the whole place to ourselves, but now it is getting late. . . or I'd hike up to the temples. My eyes have totally adjusted to the light. . . great because both headlamps had no batteries!