|Posted on April 20, 2013 at 10:10 AM|
Today it rained lightly and intermittently all day. Ordinarily, it would have been a perfect day for one to stay at home to both relax and prepare to sip through a couple pots of nokcha. However, I was restless and decided to take a hike through Jirisan, Hwagae Valley, Jeonggeum Village on the spur of the moment to check on the tea terrain.
I had walked up this village before in the past and have always found some interesting scenery to explore. So I proceeded to walk the narrow road like I had in the past. It gradually got steeper as I walked past some familiar mountain homes. Dogs were barking, both small and large. I kept on climbing and the road gradually became steeper until there was a fork in the road. I was only at about 200 meters elevation, but I was somewhat out of breath. After resting for a few minutes, I caught my breath and trodded on until I came to a fork in the road. I decided to head toward the left fork in the road since I had already explored the mountain-side that went the other direction. At this point, the light spring rain subsided and I could only feel a slight drizzle overhead. The temperature was at about 15 Celsius. It was a little cool, but it felt invigorating nonetheless. I was now hiking higher and was off the narrow road and on a mountain path.
I saw all sorts of trees and fog shrouded mountain peaks. The spring colors were vibrant with green, auburn, yellow, red, violet, and white. These were the colors of magnolia trees, pine trees, maple trees, chestnut trees, azeleas, fern bracken, bamboo groves, and other mountain vegetation the names of which were unknown to me. I saw patches of wild tea and semi-wild rocky tea gardens on these slippery mountain slopes. Looking closer at the nokcha bushes, I could see fine dew droplets that had accumulated on the leaves.
A short time later, I could hear woodpeckers at the tree line near the ridge of the mountain. I trekked higher to about 400 meters, but the path had disappeared and the ground was muddy and slippery. There were small rocks and large moss covered boulders that were wet and one had to be very careful so as not to slip on any of it. At this point, and about 200 meters from the peak, I took a short rest. I could feel the mist on my face now from the fog slowly descending from the mountain peaks and caressing the tree tops. The fog looked surreal as it engulfed the surrounding landscape.
There wasn't a person in sight and it was getting late in the afternoon. Steep and slippery mountain slopes is no place to attempt to descend from when darkness begins to creep in. The landscape was damp, wet, muddy, rocky, and piles of dead leaves that hid crevices and holes of all shapes and sizes. Not to mention the possibility of encountering wild mountain boars looking for food. I saw plenty of evidence of what they had done to the roots of camellia sinensis in their search for food. The ground was dug up and the roots chewed to near extinction. This is actually quite common on the mountains slopes of Hwagae Valley and throughout Jirisan in general.
I slowly and carefully descended from the mountain with my body turned sideways using my legs to brace myself against the rocky and slippery terrain.
From my vantage point I looked at the tea terrain on various mountain slopes and came away somewhat anxious, but hopeful. Nevertheless, it turned out to be an interesting and invigorating adventure on this misty day in Jirisan!