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  • Writer's pictureJak

It's been a minute!

We haven't updated the blog for a while, but despite typhoons and the covid pandemic, we have been reasonably busy.

This weekend, we were in our local Gapyeong canyon. In the aftermath of the typhoon, there has been some root exposure on some of our tree anchors, but after a good inspection we remain happy with them for now.

The large rock in the valley entrance parking area is being 'chopped' up - perhaps they are extending the space for cars (although people rarely park sensibly here anyway, often wasting the existing available space.)

We were unable to use Yongso Falls for our usual post-Serpent's Tail Canyoning Tour jump sessions. The whole venue is closed until at least November, and each access point has been barricaded with warning tape and banners. There is some construction work going on; it looks like the road is being widened and extended, with some potential new surfacing being laid down at the bankside. We asked the builders if we might skirt around their work in order to enter the stream, as the far bank which has all the jumps was unaffected by the work going on. They were fairly indignant and responded to us as though we were an intolerable nuisance.

"If we were allowed to go in, and got hurt, we'd only blame them," was what they said.

I do have some sympathies for their concerns. After all, they are unlikely to be the real decision makers in this instance, though they'd likely be held accountable for any mishaps.

But here is my issue - why, if all was reasonable, should they have to operate on the assumption that an accident would be inevitable?

The older I get, the more the concept of common sense seems to take on a mythical quality.

It is yet to be seen whether the development here will be for the better or for the worse. Yongso Falls has long suffered from mistreatment by visitors. Whatever the result, it certainly seems to continue the trend towards the diminishment of those natural properties which we consider essential for these outdoor spots.

There is a culture here of coddling adults and allowing people to abnegate all responsibility for their own actions. As landowners, businesses and individuals dispute who is responsible for whose safety, and to what extent, without sensible government management or intervention, we will have to suffer these kinds of restrictions.

The freedom to enjoy the outdoors, and be allowed to take responsibility for yourself, remains only in those places that are remote and which can be approached discreetly.

Herein lies a dilemma for companies like us - how we promote exploration and share discovery without ruining those places that we find.

On that note, our Gapyeong canyon is still rarely visited, and our use of the venue over the last two years has done no damage to the environment there. We've only ever found one anchor placed by someone other than us, and although we didn't rate it too highly, we did not discover any other tree or moss damage.

Jeokmok Yongso Falls, upstream of Yongso Falls, is also closed right now.

There is some development going on there too, but we're not sure to what end.

A fallen rock, presumably from the typhoon, has caused a trail closure that blocks access to Mujuchae Falls.

The typhoon damage still has us locked out of our Inje and Uljin canyons.

This is incredibly frustrating, but has to be suffered for now as we don't want to cause any disruption to repairs or create any further problems for the hardworking park rangers.

However, there are things here which do not necessarily portend well for the future.

The typhoons were big this year, to be sure, but it has to be assumed that they can come back just as strong next year, and the year after that.

The typhoons may bring down rocks, they may down a few trees, and alter the streambeds, but the environment recovers quickly from these naturally occurring events. It is the artificial additions, the human developments, in these areas that suffer. It is the stairways, roads and cheap bridges that get broken, and create messy debris and unstable and unsafe elements on the mountain.

And it is damage to these installations that cause the National Park, and other mountain, closures. The typhoons were over a month ago, and we are still locked out.

With more and more trail developments made every year, and more and more stairways being built (stairways we have always considered unnecessary, disruptive and intrusive), are we going to suffer these kinds of trail closures each year as the inevitable typhoons roll in?

In a contrast to our Uljin and Inje canyons, our Gapyeong canyon remains open and access unrestricted. The effect of the typhoon was not as severe there, but, we think the main reason that access has been uncontested is because there were no stairs and ladders to suffer damage.

We moved the fallen trees in the canyons ourselves.

Canyons and mountains are better left wild.

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