My time here in Korea is running out. There are still some things I would like to do but time has run out. Between doing stuff with the soldiers and just getting away, some things got shifted to the back burner and they never moved forward. No regrets, though.
I did want to climb the mountain behind Camp Stanley again. I hadn’t been up there since November. Last time I was up there I was wearing mostly my full kit for a PT session. I took up the mountain and sat at the top of the saddle. We got in such a task oriented thought that morning that I was the only one who sat. I was running a little late for the rest of the day but did not regret sitting at the top, overlooking Camp Stanley and Uijenbou, and read Psalm 27.
This time was different. I went with another Captain in the early hours of Saturday and we walked up the path. I wasn’t weighed down by heavy gear. I was wearing shorts, and we could take our time. There was no agenda except just getting to the top. Things were going really well until we thought we were still on the path. We had a general idea of where we were going, up. However, it became clear that the path had disappeared and we had to make some decisions. We were still sure that we just needed to keep moving up, but without a path we were forging our own way.
What became a challenge became a terrible idea. We were walking up steep sides, jutting up against rocks we could not get up, and barely made it around. We clung close to ridge lines and held on to tree limbs, scraggly tree limbs but firmly attached to the mountain. We finally found a spot where we could just sit. Below us lay the valley. We were so close to the top, we just couldn’t get up to it. Trying in vain to boulder up, we turned and sat.
It felt so good to sit. It felt so good to look down and see the valley stretch below. i don’t know that the view would’ve been much better if we had gone up another 15 feet. After the struggle, it was a rest we needed. After such a long time, it was good to think that I had come here, accomplished something and could rest.
It also seemed a little late.
In all of this, it seemed like the rest had come too late to really enjoy it. Along the path we made we had stopped to catch our breath but I did not appreciate those moments anymore than a stop on the journey up.
We were completely lost. We made our way down the mountain mostly by falling. The leaves were about 5ft deep in some places and were needed cushions, as long as you didn’t think about the spiders and bugs that were sharing that space with you. We had a general idea of where we were going “down”, but we could tell from the top that we had somehow made it over the ridge and were quite a bit aways from Camp. As long as we kept moving there was hope that we could make it back at a decent amount of time.
And then, a path appeared. Well, it seemed like a path, and then it actually was one! It was amazing! We were so happy. And then, the path was suddenly the path we had started out on and we were back at the gate onto post. It was so weird, and relieving. We walked back into the gate and I realized we looked a mess. Just a mess. Covered in dirt. my shoes were filled with what could be compost.
We did not reach our goal, overall. Not the point, though, really.