Friday, October 16, 2015

The Lycian Way / Likya Yolu

Lycia is the historical name of the Tekke peninsula that juts out into the Mediterranean on Turkey's southern coast. It is through this area Turkey's first long distance route, Likya Yolu / The Lycian Way, is going. The trail is about 540km long and is officially starting from Ovacık nearby Fethiye and ends at Geyikbayırı nearby Antalya. On the way you will climb mountains, going down to sandy beaches and pass numerous ruins and historical places.

In the Fall of 2015, I travelled to Turkey to hike The Lycian Way / Likya Yolu, this is my story from the hike.

Day   1 (14.09):Fethiye - Ovacık
Day   2 (15.09):Ovacık - Faralya
Day   3 (16.09):Faralya - Alınca
Day   4 (17.09):Alınca - Bel
Day   5 (18.09):Bel - Pydnai
Day   6 (19.09):Pydnai - Xanthos
Day   7 (20.09):Xanthos - Üzümlü
Day   8 (21.09):Üzümlü - Gelemiş
Day   9 (22.09):Gelemiş - Kalkan
Day 10 (23.09):Kalkan - Bezirgan
Day 11 (24.09):Bezirgan - Gökçeören
Day 13 (26.09):Gedikefe Ovası - Kaş
Day 14 (27.09):Kaş - Boğazcık
Day 15 (28.09):Boğazcık - Kaleköy
Day 16 (29.09):Kaleköy - Sura
Day 17 (30.09):Sura - Myra
Day 18 (01.10):Myra - Belören
Day 19 (02.10):Belören - Belos
Day 20 (03.10):Belos - Finike
Day 21 (04.10):Finike - Karaöz
Day 22 (05.10):Karaöz - Gelidonya
Day 23 (06.09):Gelidonya - Adrasan
Day 24 (07.10):Adrasan - Olympos
Day 25 (08.10):Olympos - Ulupınar
Day 29 (12.10):Gölbastığı - Göynük

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hisarçandir Kale - Geyikbayırı

The Lycian Way day 31.
Distance: 16.5km (502.8km), time spent: 8:58 (199:22).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 820m / 390m / 1400m.
Weather: Nice and clear weather.

Did I start the walk too early? Tonight it was nice and chilly, which made me sleep very well. No sounds of any animals or humans, quiet, except from one shot during the night (??). I eat cake for breakfast; it is after all the last day on the walk. Outside the tent, the sky is blue and the ruins of the castle are still situated where they were yesterday.

Down from Hisarçandir Kale, through a tunnel in the vegetation.

A path through the woods carries me down to a service road, which I follow down to the valley bottom and the Çandir river. On the road, I could behold the steep cliffs by eye from below. At the river there are construction works next to a small dam, it feels quite like an open wound in the landscape. To get across the river, I use the remains of a concrete structure. Even though I walk past several good places to camp, I do believe it was a good decision staying at the small clearing I found yesterday. If I had continued walking, I would also have missed the nice evening climb to the castle.

Up towards Çitdibi it is steep and the view back provides a good overview over the promontories that Hisarçandir Kale are situated on top of. With the exception of the ruins and the area around, the section between Hisarçandir and Çitdibi are not the most exciting. It is possible that I would have reached there yesterday. Above the village, there is a popular place for climbing; from the trail, I can see a vertical shelf alongside the mountain.

Çitdibi with the 2km long shelf behind, the rocky wall is a popular climbing destination.

I arrive at Çitdibi and there are little that suggest that there is any place to stay for the night here either, it is not an option now anyway. A small break I see fit however, after filling up with water next to the mosque, the place looks sleepy. A dog that looks like it either has been in a fight or suffer from a disease comes limping past me, it is not a very pretty sight and I feel a combination of disgust and pity of the sight. The dog does not make any sign that it pays any attention to me.

View back towards Hisarçandir (visible in the left part of the picture) from above Çitdibi. The prominent cliffs that houses Hisarçandir Kale are clearly visible.

I carry on upwards from Çitdibi and the path is now becoming more interesting. On the other side of the valley, I can see the houses of Hisarçandir beneath the mountain I came down from, the steep cliffs by the old castle is in plain sight. Further behind to the right, the summit of Teke Dağı is a clear outline against the blue sky. Antalya is now even clearer to the east of me.

The ruins of Typalia lies at the first pass you arrive at after Çitdibi. Sarcophaguses and tombs are the most prominent remains of the settlement and castle. The view from the ruins are supposed to be fantastic, so I reckon that there are more of them at the top of the one cliff next to the path, but I decide anyway not to do the climb up. I was content with the view on my way up here. Besides that, most of what I see here is now overgrown and not as exciting as other ruins I have seen down here.

The ascent to the ruins of Typalia provided good views in the direction of Antalya.

Before the last ascent on the trail, which goes up to the Karabel pass, I have to go steep down again. Steep down over a section of loose shale and earth, I slide nearly more than I walk. The descent ends down by a small river, where there are some inviting small pools. That lures me into them. I strongly doubt that I will meet anybody now, I did not meet anyone yesterday, so I dress up in the emperor's new clothes and jump into the water. Afterwards, I sit on one of the boulders and warm myself on the sunrays being filtered through the leaves of the trees around me.

Sarcophaguses in the ruins of Typalia.

Karabel lies at a long and tenacious rise from the river. The area feels relatively desolate, but on the way up, I find myself in the middle of a strongly cultivated small area. There are water hoses laid out everywhere. A guy is peeking up from one of the small patches of land; the guidebook mentioned that there were a farmer with the name of Halil working the land here. We continue further, each to our own work. He by growing his beans and walnut trees, me by walking upwards to the last pass of the Lycian Way.

After Typalia, the trail descends over a section with loose earth and shale rock, with clear signs that there has been several small landslides here.

With the exception of some few excursions through forest, the path is mainly going over small mountain plains. The grass on the plains are dry and yellow-coloured. The walk is nice, but it drains my energy, at a point I shortly wonder if I will get up to the top of the pass at all. Everything has an end of course, ascents also, so I arrive at the top in the end.

This adventure goes towards its end, from now on there are no more climbs left, only a single long descent. Sitting down at the pass feels like the proper thing to do. Not only of the reason that I need it after the climb up, but also to quietly meditate over the days that has gone by since I started out from Fethiye a month ago. And while I do so, I might as well prepare me some lunch. In the vicinity of where I sit, there are some relatively new tombs and remains of older ones.

A small farm on one of the plains you pass by on the way up to the pass of Karabel, dry and barren grass.

When I go down from the Karabel pass, my mood is high in the beginning; I walk over some green meadows with sunrays shining between the trees. Everything should be good, but then it turns to worse. For after the initial pleasant walk, I start to despair and begin to understand why most people either stops in or starts from Göynük. The path down is more like a wild and goalless stray through bushes and thickets. The waymarking looks arbitrary and I have to constantly stop to relocate the trail. There is nothing to see, frustration spreads. Even on a gravel track towards the end, it seems randomly marked and I go wrong for the umpteenth time, I feel that I get lost just one kilometre away from the end.

Remains of buildings in the ruins of Trebenna, situated on the top of a cliff above Geyikbayırı, here with a view back towards the mountains and the Karabel pass.

The only highlight on the last part of my Lycian journey is Trebenna. These cool ruins are situated on the top of a cliff with views that reaches as far as Antalya and the mountains behind. Remains of an old church is the first of the ruins that I see, and then Trebenna lies on the cliff behind. I climb up to it, at the wrong place, and has to push myself through thick vegetation before I arrive at ruins of old houses and archways that looks down upon the landscape in the valley steep below. Just below, an intact gate that leads to a path going down to the church ruins again.

All the way down, climbing walls are on all sides bending over me, Geyikbayırı is also a popular place for climbing. I arrive at the official end of Likya Yolu, marked by the sign displaying that I have walked 509km between Antalya and Fethiye (the number is rather ambiguous, since there are some variants along the way and two days have been added to the trail). It really looks like the sign is indicating what is the starting point for the trail (I know that Kate Clow is working with turning the trail around in the next guidebook). For the first time when I reach the end of a walk, I am not in a good mood; it seems that the descent has sapped me mentally.

An old gate in the ruins of Trebenna.

Next to the sign is Jo-si-to, an accommodation frequently used by the climbers travelling here. I quickly get back in a better mood again, after my initial frustration. I arrange a small bungalow for myself for the night, in the true sense of the world, small (but it suits all my needs).

And when the afternoon and evening arrives, I am back in a good mood. Behind me are now the mountains I came down from and the Lycian Way, 500 kilometres since Fethiye. Jo-si-to is a very nice place. I feel that I have earned the beers I drink. In the evening, a fire is built outside. Climbers comes and goes, they speak about the various climbing routes. There is a pleasant atmosphere at the place.

An adventure is over, another begins. At the end of the Lycian Way in Geyikbayırı.

Tomorrow, I travel back to Antalya, the adventure is over for this time, another begins.

<- Hisarçandir Kale

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Göynük - Hisarçandır Kale

The Lycian Way day 30.
Distance: 21.5km (486.3km), time spent: 9:18 (190:24).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 75m / 820m / 1487m.
Weather: An easy mix of sun, blue sky and clouds.

The time on the trail is ticking towards its end. I have a somewhat ambiguous relation to it now, there is something in me wishing to continue walking, but there is also a part of me that is ready to finish this trail. I cannot provide a good reason why, it may be because the Lycian Way has not met my expectations, though I doubt it. I have many great days behind me on the trail (as yesterday). Still, the finishing touch is probably missing.

Where the trail towards Hisarçandır starts from in Göynük Kanyonu.

Today however, there is an exciting day head of me, in several ways. I am excited since today I will come to the part of the trail I have been warned against. Somewhere on the path towards Hisarçandır there supposedly has been a rockslide and a forest fire, which has made it difficult to know where the path goes. I have on the other hand, been reassured that it is only talk of a very small section. My map does not go farther than to Göynük, so I have nothing to go by.

I have appreciated the time I have spent together with Melike, but today it is inevitably over. We eat a final breakfast together and then says goodbye, then I head back up to the entrance of the Göynük valley again.

Strawberry trees forever.

Since it is a privately owned park, it costs money to enter, but when I say that I am going to Hisarçandır, I do not have to pay the entrance fee. Instead, the guard embarks upon a long tirade and warns me not to go, at least not alone. He tells me that it is too dangerous, that I will get lost since there are no waymarks and that I will have to call for a rescue helicopter as others have done. If that happens, I will have to pay 2000 dollars, but he will not stop me if that is what I want. You get scared of less.

Yesterday, I saw where the path starts from, a small wooden sign pointing towards a path that quite shyly disappears behind some bushes. For safety reasons, I put on my gps and hope that I do not get to use it; my plan is to turn it on if the waymarks disappears and it gets difficult to orientate. I keep a steady pace upwards and get slightly confused by the fact that the waymarks almost never has been better. I am walking and always expect that they will disappear in thin air and that I will confound myself out into the periphery, but it never happens.

Sarıçinar Dağı hidden behind the clouds drifting across the mountains higher up.

In the valley, the trail keeps beneath the trees next to the now small creek running down in the middle of it. Small irrigation-pipes are sticking up from the path, with gurgling sounds coming from them. After an hour, I have already reached Sarıçinar pınarı (in the guidebook, the time estimate is three hours). It is a good campsite, but there is not much water running through the creek that was supposed to hold water all the year round. Views from the valley are randomly provided through the trees.

Antalya lies behind the mountains. Pointed and rugged peaks seen from the trail where it traverse through an area characterized by a forest fire.

At a grassy small pass, I have to take a short break, it seems that I have walked too fast and it was quite steep up. I have not had any problems finding the way, I still expect the waymarking to cease and that all the warnings I have received shall occur. After the pass, I slow down the pace, the guidebook estimates the walk to eleven hours, but I do not see any reason why I should use that long time.

Beneath the slopes of Sarıçinar Dağı, I quickly arrive at an area with charred and remaining trees after a fire. New undergrowth is about to form and is already grown for some time, so there must be a little while since the forest fire. The path is disappearing at times in the new vegetation, but not so much that a quick overview easily answers where the trail is continuing. Pointed peaks lies to the north of the path. Then the trail is ascending on a cool and rocky path.

At Hüdacık ridge, the trail goes through a small pass between the cliffs, cedar trees adorns each side of the path.

At Hüdacık ridge (1400m), where the trail goes through a small pass between the rocky cliffs, there are some stony precipices that I can climb out upon. From the tip, there is a great view towards the pointed peaks I was looking up at earlier. In the background, I can now see Antalya, yet another reminder that the journey soon is over. Sitting on the outermost boulder with the majestic cedar trees around me, I do have to admit that it has been a good walk; I thoroughly enjoy this part of the trail.

View from a precipice at Hüdacık ridge. Antalya is visible in the background.

The continuing path is also nice, I pass by Baba Çesme (Father's Spring), walk alongside shelves with view both downwards and outwards, over rocky paths in a nice forest, past an empty bottle of vodka. At Elmayanı Pınarı (Spring by the Apples), I sit down on one of the picnic benches there, a small fenced in mountain farm is situated below the spring. I take out my stove and prepares my lunch for the day, something I have done all too little, I have missed doing this on my walk and I cannot explain why I have not done it more. It is a quiet and peaceful place, until I hear the sound of shooting from the ridge above me. Hunt or not, a dog is coming at full speed down from the ridge and disappears just as quickly as it appeared.

The highest point (1487m) of today's walk is not far away, just a short walk on a forest track. Quite surprising is the different houses that exists at the pass, as if there is a small village located there. I am offered tea in one of the houses, which I pay five lira for, I drink my tea while wasps buzzes continuous around me. From the pass, the trail goes on a gravel track all the way down to Hisarçandır. I make a mental notice that it took a long time before I saw the first waymark again after the pass.

Lunch break at Elmayanı Pınarı.

Walking on the forest track does not compare with the rest of the walk so far today, which just got better and better the higher up I came, but it is pleasant enough. A signpost brings me back to what the guide in Yayla Kuzdere told me about, that he was working on an alternate route from Antalya. This may be the reason why one of the signs is pointing towards a place called Üçsöğüt Yaylası. In my guidebook, there is no such variant described and I do not have a map anymore that I can check out where the place is or where that route goes.

Above Hisarçandır. The original endpoint of the Lycian Way was next to the minaret by the mosque. In the background are the mountains that the trail crosses over on its way towards Geyikbayırı, the current endpoint of the trail.

Getting down to Hisarçandır took its time; so when I arrive good and well, I feel content with today's walk. So here it was that the trail originally ended, now two more days has been added to the trail, by Çitdibi to Geyikbayırı. Which in a way is understandable; there really is not anything in the village, even though it seems charming enough. Even with aid from Melike, it is apparent that I cannot find any place to stay here. I do have food, so I can just pitch my tent, there is a nice enough place just next to the road and the signpost (which before marked the endpoint), but I am not so fond of putting up my tent in the middle of a village. I feel invading for some reason.

I continue further towards Çitdibi, unsure of how far I will reach before it gets dark. The trail goes further downwards, on a gravel track at first and then on paths across dry and rocky fields. All the stones makes it hard to find a good place to camp (without having to spend a lot of time clearing a space). Below Hisarçandır Kale, which is now guarding over me from a small hilltop above, I doubt that I will get too much further. I find a small enclosure in the woods next to the path; the space is just wide enough that I can fit my tent in it. I decide to call it the day.

Hisarçandır Kale.

At the small clearing, I clear some space, pitch the tent and make a small perimeter with twigs and branches as a makeshift fence. Then I climb up to Hisarçandır Kale and goes ruinspotting. Of the old castle, there is just about only the walls left, which due to the location only needs to go halfway around. On the other side, the steep precipice forms a wall good as anyone. The evening is slowly approaching and on the sky, the sun makes a dramatic descent behind the mountains when I stand and looking down towards the Çandır-river far below. It would have been cooler to camp up at the castle; there are places for it here. I am happy that I chose to stop.

View from the top of the precipices that is the location of the ruins of Hisarçandır Kale.

Down by the tent again, I prepare to make dinner, but voices nearby is making me a little bit nervous. They seems to be looking for someone, just after Hisarçandır there were someone driving past me in a car and looking strange at me, so I just sit tight and quiet and listening. The voices are eventually disappearing. Probably, I had nothing to fear, but the time hearing voices looking for someone felt wrong. Afterwards it is quiet and peaceful. I cook my dinner, noodles, and is covered by darkness. In the end, I withdraw into my tent, where it is nice and cool. An extraordinary day. I spend the last night on the walk beneath the old fortress walls of Hisarçandır Kale.

<- GöynükGeyikbayırı ->

Monday, October 12, 2015

Gölbastığı - Göynük

The Lycian Way day 29.
Distance: 13.0km (464.8km), time spent: 8:23 (181:06).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 972m / 75m / 972m.
Weather: Mostly overast, but some blue windows through the clouds.

In the morning, the clouds are still lying like a tight blanket over the Göynük valley, as they did when I went to bed yesterday. Higher up on the sky, there is a lighter mix of clouds and blue sky. The breakfast here (Gül Mountain Lodge), is nearly just as huge as the dinner yesterday, you get good value for your money for the stay here, and the bread is especially juicy.

Hey..Lycians! Signpost on a tree in Göynük Yaylası.

After breakfast, they drive us back to Likya Yolu and the signpost that made my endpoint yesterday. The ocean of fog in the valley has moved higher up in the sky now and is about to spread its wings over us. Today, we are moving down towards the ocean again, between the dark valley sides of Göynük Kanyonu. In the end of the valley, some kilometres away from the trail, lies Göynük. According to the rumours, Göynük is where most of the hikers on the Lycian Way ends their hike, or start from if they walk in the opposite direction.

A short walk through the woods, which despite its untidy appearance is a pleasant forest, brings us to Göynük Yaylası. The small village is really a collection of small mountain farms and homesteads that lies scattered around at the top of the valley. After leaving the village, there is no places until you get down to the privately owned park at the bottom of the valley. That there is an overweight of Russian hikers on this part of the trail is evident by all the signs in Russian and Cyrillic that we pass by.

View down the Göynük valley from Göynük Yaylası.

Going down, the trail will twice cross Göynük Çayi, the river that runs through the gorge. At the first crossing, there is another hiker sitting and shaving. The descent to the river is the most 'dangerous' part of the walk so far by my account; it goes steep down over eroded earth and loose rocks. It is easy to get hurt if you should fall. On a rock by the riverside there is written a warning about scorpions in large and white paint, I do not see any. It is late in the year, there is not much water flowing in the river now.

An odd crab up in the mountains, it is peculiar to encounter such a critter so far from the ocean.

I have now gotten so used to the waymarking often takes its own ways and routes, as if it lives its own life, that I have begun to recognize when it is happening. Parts of the trail in the beginning goes down on an old mule path. Where the path leaves the mule track and enters the slope to the right of the track, there are no waymarks. They are pointing resolutely further along the mule path. My assumption is confirmed when the hiker we saw shaving by the river comes back, he had walked for about twenty minutes down the road before he frustrated perceived that the marking had ceased to exist.

Above the Göynük valley bottom, in the fall there is little water flow in the river running through the valley (Göynük Çayi).

The correct path takes us steep down to the valley bottom, where the river breaks its way between the cliffs and rocks. Due to the low water level it is now easy to jump from stone to stone when we crosses the river the second time, but how it will be here when the water is flooding I am unsure of. At the bottom, there is a large group of Russians that is making a lot of noise while they are bathing in a nice pool. They confirms smilingly that it is a refreshing bath. It does look quite tempting. We are now walking in the middle of steep valley sides on both sides, with the clouds lying like a ceiling at the top.

Where the path crosses the river, like stepping stones, you can jump from stone to stone.

Up from the river, I walk past fields of pink flowers when the trail is moving for a short while into the forest and a small side valley. In the side valley, a small river is running and the guidebook describes it as a nice place to camp. Which is apparent, I walk past a campfire that is still coming smoke from. At a closer look, I can see that it is still a fire burning. No one is seen or heard nearby, it looks abandoned. I find this really irresponsible, now that it is as dry as it is, so I pour some water on where it is still burning.

A leaf with a nice pattern on it, almost like a fractal.

After the campfire, a long and hard ascent awaits me. The trail goes up the side valley before it turns around and emerges up and above the Göynük valley again. A large group of hikers passes me by; it is probably the guests that Gül Mountain Lodge is expecting today. It takes its time letting everyone pass by (it reminds me a lot of my encounters with the group of hikers I met in South Korea). I find a suitable location for lunch, in a clearing with a campfire in the middle. Yet another large group is arriving, they sit down together with me. Melike is coming just as I am about to continue.

The trail is now bearing higher and the view back up the valley becomes better and better. Small outcrops that you can walk out on makes it possible to gaze out over the valley bottom far below and where the gorge reaches back towards the houses of Göynük Yaylası. The boulders I see below is where the river is flowing, the clouds I see above are tighter and more dramatic now. It is a cool walk. Over the mountains where the trail continues tomorrow, the clouds are tearing at the mountainsides. The path follows the valley high up, before it descends again when it nears the end of the gorge.

View of the Göynük gorge in the direction of Göynük Yaylası. The riverbed is visible far below.

At the bottom of the gorge a suspension bridge appears over the river, which I look down upon from above, just below the bridge there is a small café. Behind is the valley and mountains that the trail towards Hisarçandır is entering, now hidden from my eyes. I walk down to the valley so that I can cross the suspension bridge and leave the path next to a Likya Yolu signpost, but I do not think this is the real trail. The bridge is part of a parkour park and is therefore not available to walk on. I return back up to the trail.

The Lycian Way through the Göynük valley.

Which continues further in the same height for a short while, before it meet its end a little further down in the valley. Amusingly, the last part of the path goes on top of an irrigation channel. The walk down the valley has been great. I am now located in the privately owned park just outside of Göynük, which is a popular tourist destination where the visitors can walk further up in the bottom of Göynük Kanyonu. I sit down in the small café, while I am waiting for Melike. After she has arrived, we go exploring a small cave that is going somewhat deep into the mountain, before heading for the park exit.

Göynük Kanyonu, below there is a parkour park and a small café. In the background is the valley and the mountains where the Lycian Way continues further towards Hisarçandır.

In Göynük, we find a pansiyon not far away from the park, the price is too high, but we do not bother trying to find a better place. None that we talked to knew about any places nearby, so we went for the first and best (and possibly the only) place we drove by in the taxi. The place advertised that they had food, but there were none to have. So, I made the journey to the village itself to buy some food and drinks for us. I get a lift to the village with a guest at the place, but I have to walk the 2-3 kilometres back again. In the meantime, Melike had anyway managed to make the hostess drive and buy some food for us; we eat a good take-away pide for dinner.

Inside a cave at the exit of the Göynük Kanyonu.

In the evening, we sit on the terrace outside Melike's room. It is the last night on the walk with Melike, she will not continue further from here. The time has run out, she will return to Olympos for a yoga-appointment there. Which means that I will be alone again, this time I doubt that I will meet any more people, but then again there are only two days left to go. The announced thunderstorm never materialized.

<- GölbastığıHisarçandır Kale ->

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Yayla Kuzdere - Gölbastığı

The Lycian Way day 28.
Distance: 19.0km (451.8km), time spent: 5:52 (172:43).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 901m / 972m / 972m.
Weather: Nice, drifting clouds in the afternoon and evening.

The night was like a balm for the soul, I slept like a rock. I share the breakfast table with the large group from Hong Kong; Melike is already on her way. According to the weather forecast there is a thunderstorm approaching in the days to come. However, the guide for the group tells me that for the mountains you cannot know for sure, the weather forecasts here are only based on the coast stations. We are almost ready for departure at the same time, the youths and I. They go to Beycik over Tahtalı Dağı, I walk towards Göynük Yaylası, or do I? Maybe I will remove Yaylası and walk to Göynük instead.

Waymark for the Lycian Way and on a dry and cracked rock.

Today's walk begins just as well by me not finding the trail where it seemingly should go, according to both map and signpost. The villagers have probably been out and carried out a small change of route. After coming back on track again, the trail is generally following a forest track, but the view has retained its glory. Against a blue sky the contours of Tahtalı Dağı becomes clear.

Teke Dağı is shining in a grey white hue above me to the left; by the map, I can see that there is a path going on the top of the ridge. Not marked though, but still, if only the Lycian Way was going there. You can wish for much.

View back towards Tahtalı Dağı to the left in the picture, with Erenkolu Gediği visible just below it to the right.

From the forest track, I can see the ocean through the ravine where two ridges meet and forms the valley upon which the other trail is coming up from. Today, the two alternatives will reunite again and any hikers that meet can exchange experiences from Tekirova, Phaselis, Mount Olympos and the flames of Chimaera (if those going past Tekirova did not visit the place before they left Çıralı). The path here is pleasant, but not altogether exciting.

The ruins of the castle in Gedelme with Mount Olympos in the background.

In Gedelme, ruins of an old Genovese castle is located. It is only the torn walls that is still standing, now beleaguered by vegetation. After climbing around in the ruins for a bit, I discover that there is a small cave underneath the remains of the buildings. A worn wooden staircase leads down to it, on the ground there is a set of forgotten Uno playing cards. I crawl through the cave and emerge out through a small opening, before I force myself through some bush and ends up just below the castle.

Beneath the castle in Gedelme, there is a small cave you can crawl through. Also a nice place to play Uno it appears.

Continuing, I meet an old woman with a mule. I ask if I can take a picture and she agrees to it, on the condition that I buy two apples for two lira. Fair deal.

After Beycik, there are no stores until you arrive here at Gedelme, and afterwards you will not find any until Göynük located some kilometres away from the trail, so I fill up on my stocks for safety reasons. In the large restaurant at the centre of the village, I meet a group of Russian hikers, and get in talk with Anthony and Gekhetsik. As with their fellow countrymen, they also hike the trail in the opposite direction of what I do and has just started from Göynük; their plan is to go to Gelidonya.

Old woman and her mule in Gedelme.

Their walk would turn out to form a starting point for their own adventure bureau, TrekRussia (the web page is at the moment only in Russian), where they specialize in offering customized hikes mainly in Russia. A pleasant, though short, meeting.

Teke Dağı above a yayla outside Gedelme.

On the short part of the trail that goes on the road before Höyük Tepe, I find Melike again, and has to reconsider my statement from yesterday on not being able to fast-track. She feels a pain in one of her feet and chooses to call Gül Mountain Lodge, which is lying about two kilometres away from Göynük Yaylası. When I arrive there, I will contact her. Behind us, the clouds are beginning to come in waves over the mountains facing the Mediterranean, Tahtalı included. Yet another group of Russians appears, they really do come at regular intervals.

View towards Söğütcük and a tv antenna standing on the top of a mountain the trail later passes below.

Melike does not miss out on the most exciting part of the trail; though for the most part, this day has not offered much at all. It has been nice, but nothing out of the ordinary. From Höyük Tepe, the trail jumps down from one forest track to another on small paths. Where the trail going by Tekirova are re-entering this path, there is nothing else but a small y-shaped waymark that indicates the separation between the paths. It is almost overgrown. If you come from the other direction, you have to keep a good watch if you want to take the trail going over Mount Olympos, it is easy to walk past that path and continue further on the forest track upon which the trail towards Tekirova goes on.

A water source on the trail between Höyük Tepe and Gölbastığı.

At Gölbastığı, I send a message to Melike and sit down next to the signpost pointing towards Göynük. Shortly after, a car is coming down. A room at the Gül Mountain Lodge is already fixed, and the price is not bad. 80 Turkish Lira for accommodation, dinner and breakfast. The hotel is situated next to the road to Antalya and has a great view of the valley below. There are few guests here today, but a large group is expected tomorrow. My room can wait, it is still a good temperature outside, so we sit outside and enjoy the weather and the view. Melike has bought a farewell present to me, a keychain with an apricot in it.

Tahtalı Dağı with its block seen from the trail below Gölbastığı.

In the afternoon, the clouds drifts in over the valley and crashes unceasingly towards the mountainsides of Teke Dağı. The square bunker at the summit of Olympos is still visible. The dinner at the place is superb and almost worth the price for the stay alone. I ordered köfte as main course, which was served together with a large selection of different meze, all tasting excellent.

Teke Dağı seen from Gül Mountain Lodge.

The weather forecast is still adamant that it will be thunder tomorrow afternoon, so I have decided to go to Göynük tomorrow. My initial thought was to continue further and camp at Sarıçinar pınarı, where supposedly there is a reliable water source, pınar means spring in Turkish. Fair enough walk today, but the stay here at Gül Mountain Lodge was very good.

<- Yayla KuzdereGöynük ->

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Erenkolu Gediği - Yayla Kuzdere

The Lycian Way day 27.
Distance: 9.5km (432.8km), time spent: 2:30 (166:51).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 1815m / 901m / 1815m.
Weather: Nice.

A quiet wind is blowing down from the summit of Tahtalı Dağı above us, the amazing cedar trees around unaffected. When we have packed together our tents and leaves Erenkolu Gediği, the sun is already standing tall on the sky. Beyond the hollow we camped in, the path moves down amongst the trees and us with it, uncertain of how far I will go today. After been at the top of Olympos, Melike feel satisfied by going to Yayla Kuzdere. For my own part, I feel that I should go farther; it is not far of a walk going there.

Erenkolu Gediği, the highest point of The Lycian Way.

We leave the highest point you can get to on the Lycian walk through Turkey, and since Tahtalı Dağı is situated where it is on the trail, it also feels like it is the first step on the conclusion of the trail. You have been to the top, now it is time to think about the homecoming. I have however still some days left. The first days on the walk feels quite distant now and I am happy that I chose not to give up. That I did not let the stomach and sleeping problems get the upper hand, in that morning at Pydnai.

Cedar trees, the path is to the left in the picture.

To step downwards is to enter beneath the cedar trees, underneath the leaves and branches separated in layers up into the trees. These trees, like me, feels more at home higher up. I would like to stay at this altitude, if for nothing else just to still be walking beneath these trees. After a short, but exciting walk down, we end up at the large plain of Çukur Yayla. From above, we could see a large herd of goats. In one end of the plain, but not the one we will pass through, there is an enclosed farm. The farmers are out working, fixing the roof of an outhouse.

Mount Olympos guarding above, on the way down towards Çukur Yayla.

The plain is dry, but the grass is still green. Grey and peculiar rocks are jutting up of it, like shark fins up of the ground. There are several nice places to pitch a tent here and there is supposed to be a water source nearby. On the other hand, you risk often being visited by goats and it is uncertain whether the people at the farm will be happy if you are camping here.

Above Çukur Yayla. In the background, Teke Dağı above the Kemer valley.

I see that I am leaving Melike behind here. We will however meet again later in the day; I have decided to only go to Yayla Kuzdere as well. Even though Gedelme would be a more logical terminus for the day. Melike has been a pleasant acquaintance and I enjoy her company. If I had continued further, this would probably be our last day together on the trail. There are few places to fast-track further on the trail here.

Melike crossing Çukur Yayla.

From the flat Çukur Yayla, the trail falls over the edge and descends steadily down. All the time with Tahtalı Dağı guarding above me, the mountainside becoming steeper and stepper. The summit itself is hidden behind another top, Göçükbaşı Tepe at 2304m. It goes in zigzags downwards. Through woods and alongside steep precipices with the source of the Kemer valley below. The trail passes a construction site for what looks like a big mansion, with a mosque. To get past it, I have to crouch past a fence.

View of the Kemer valley.

The path ends at a forest track that is followed for a while. Where the trail leaves the forest track to the right of the track, the waymarking does one of its antics and points to the left. This time, I do not let myself be fooled. A short stroll through a forest takes me to the upper part of Yayla Kuzdere. While I am walking on a road, a tourist in a car stops and asks me if I know where some well-known tombs are located. Where he got the idea that I could help with that, I do not know. I try to consult my map to see if it may be able to help him. The map is as much as help as I am.

The steep mountainside up towards Tahtalı Dağı.

Yayla Kuzdere seems like a small and sleepy village, but not without charm. Most of the houses is hidden behind the poplar and walnut trees. The mosque is all pale white. In winter, the village is usually abandoned. The nearest shop is in aforementioned Gedelme, a 10km away. Public transport does not exist. The village will be my place for the night.

A short visit on a forest track above Yayla Kuzdere, Teke Dağı in the background.

Melike and I agreed that we would go to Suleyman's pension and that I should arrange for a room for her as well. At the guesthouse, there is hectic activity, which also includes the neighbours, working with the harvest of today. For a short time, I can sit quiet outside and relax. Then a large group of youths from Hong Kong arrives and quietness is a bygone past. However, you could live with some hustle and bustle once in a while. Later, Melike arrives and it becomes apparent that they misunderstood me, and has placed Melike in the same room as me. There are no other rooms available, so the hosts moves in with the neighbours for the night and leaves their room for Melike. The dinner is a very tasty vegetarian dish.

Yayla Kuzdere Miraç Camii, the white mosque of Yayla Kuzdere with Olympos behind.

Rumours has come to my ears that a large section of the upcoming trail will be impassable, since there supposedly has been a large landslide or forest fire. On that point, the rumours were kind of vague. One of the guides of the group is however calming us down and tells us that it is only a short section and it will not be a problem. He explains and draws on a map. More disturbing is it that he tells us that he works on making an alternative trail of the Likya Yolu from Antalya. I see for myself that I suddenly finds myself on that trail instead of the original.

Flowers in the garden of Suleyman's Pansyion.

I got good time to relax here in Yayla Kuzdere, but both the place and the hosts here are nice. In addition, I am used to this being an easy walk. Though short, this day has been a great day, the climb up to the summit of Tahtalı Dağı / Mount Olympos is one of the highlights of the walk so far.

<- Tahtalı Dağı / Mount OlymposGölbastığı ->

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