Friday, October 2, 2015

Belören - Belos

The Lycian Way day 19.
Distance: 24.7km (308.6km), time spent: 9:03 (122:35).
Altitude (start / end / highest): 653m / 906m / 1776m.
Weather: Nice, but with some ominous clouds later.

Hard, cannot rely upon finding water or drink what you find, missing and unreliable marking, shepherd dogs you need to avoid. These were the thoughts that went through my mind on the way back to Belören. And they were going through my mind just as fast as the host of the Kent Pansiyon drove on the bumpy road. The thoughts originated from what I had read about this section of the trail, at the same time the path was supposed to be lovely, offer mysterious ruins and misty mountain ridges. It is no wonder that I am excited.

Out of Belören in the morning, Asarbelen Tepe with the ruins in the background that I climbed on top of yesterday.

Back in Belören, the workers I met yesterday invite me in for tea. It crosses my mind that it must be possible to get water here, but that matters little today. In my backpack, I carry five litres of water, and it is not in the beginning that the water is necessary. I chose to bring the additional water, despite the information I got from Salih. I can feel the load of the additional kilos the water brings, even though the walk out of Belören is not steep.

Remains of early settlement at Zeytin, here the St. Nicholas Way (Aziz Nikolaos Yolu) also passes by.

I have not walked very far before the Lycian Way leaves me stranded just below Zeytin, the first of several mountain farms and nomadic settlements the trail passes by on its path over the mountains. And as before, the cause of it is that the waymarking makes a disappearing act. Instead of messing around in the middle of a mountain farm searching for the waymarks, I chose to take the gravel track going around. Which could prove to be a small lucky stroke, since I get to take a closer look at the remains of the settlement from the classical age and continued through the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

Approaching the field with the ruins of Alakilise.

There is a small thrill in my body when I see the sloping plain upon which the ruins of Alakilise (which name means multi-coloured church) stands appear. The thought of building a basilica high up in the mountains and so far from people has fascinated me since I read about it, it must have been considerably more people living up here in the 6th. century when the church was built. Now, only one of the walls of the nave of the church is still standing. By the number of stones and pillars, several of them with relief carvings, lying around, you could surmise that the church must have been of a considerably size. How I would love to spend the night here, coming here is something I waited for during my whole walk.

Alakilise, the ruins of an old church high up in the mountains.

A big pack of goats was herded past the church by three old nomads, all women, when I arrived; followed shortly by three large dogs. The dogs settles calmly down next to the ruins and looks lazy and distrustful at me. After Alakilise, the proper ascent of the day begins. The trail passes first by several small farms before it continues up into an area consisting of large stones and rocks. The walk through the scree is a trial. There are no real path to follow, the marking disappears constantly and I have to search for the next mark all the time. With the additional kilos on my back, it is an extremely tiresome climb.

Looking up to the ridge the Likya Yolu traverses from the remains of a window in Alakilise.

When I am finally out of the scree and on the right way, I am so tired and fed up that I do not have the motivation to climb the additional metres to find Kirk Merkdiven, a small chapel carved into the cliffs above. How I know I will regret that decision later. The view on the hand is better for my mood. Given that I am now higher up in the mountains and its implications, I find it a little bit disconcerting that the marking are so poor. For those who are not so experienced in the mountains, the waymarking is something providing security on the hike. Fortunately, there is a forest road up here, which I also find useful when I cannot find the proper trail after coming up to the ridge.

The mountain ridge the trail goes on near Karlıöz Tepe.

I am back on the trail again next to a grave (people likes to be buried high up in the mountains here as well) at a pass, Avlağıgediği. The path and the waymarks are much better from this point on, with the trail in addition going through a lovely forest of cedar trees. I approach what is the highest point of this section, close to 1800m, the ground is now rocky and it is less vegetation with substantial views down towards the Mediterranean. It is a wonderful section of the trail. I eat lunch next to an old (and dry) well.

Trees in the mountain and views in between them down towards Demre; a cedar tree in the middle.

The day is marvellous, with the exception of the repeated problems the waymarking causes. Yet again, I find myself astray and has to tiredly climb back up to where the markings disappeared again. After a big red arrow marked where the trail goes, I chose the obvious path on. Where the trail goes, the red and white blazes are barely visible and no path to be seen. The extra detours I get, is beginning to wear me down.

With the heading pointing downwards again, I get a good view down towards the long beach between Finike and Mavikent; in two days, I will follow the trail on this beach. Just before I get to Yatıkardıç Yayla, a small gathering of small houses, I meet another hiker. He walked from Ovacık to Demre the previous year and has now returned to finish his hike of the Lycian Way, this year starting in the opposite direction. Doing the hike in what is commonly called a flip-flop. It is completely silent and no signs of any people in Yatıkardıç Yayla.

View towards the long beach between Finike and Mavikent, which the trail crosses over later. At the end of the headland farthest away is Cape Gelidonya with its lighthouse.

I call it the day at Belos. If it were not for all the lost time trying to find the path today, I wonder if I actually could have reached Finike by the end of the day. The only things marring an otherwise great walk, was the poor waymarking and the heavy load I carried. I choose to pitch my tent in a natural enclosure at the beginning of the ruins, instead of the places with a better view next to the castle further up the hill, the ground there was littered with goat dung.

Above Yatıkardıç Yayla you get a great view from the mountains down towards Demre and Kekova further behind.

The aforementioned view from the castle, or the remains of it, are striking. Before I pitch my tent, I have to sit down and look out over Demre far below and further towards Kekova in the horizon. After the tent is up, I am back up again to witness the sunset. Which is just as splendid as expected, the sun goes down in an sea of flames behind the mountains in the background.

Sunset from the ruins of Belos.

When the darkness has descended, I sit down next to the tent to eat. For dinner, I prepare the same dish that I prepared so very often on the previous year's walk, noodles (though I was understandably enough unable to get some ham here). Next to me there is a spider making a cobweb, it looks kind of dangerous, so I hope it stays where it is. My water schedule has been good; at the end of the day, I have more than enough for tomorrow. Though I had to take a large swig of the water when I arrived here. Again, a great day, only marred by the poor waymarking.

<- BelörenFinike ->

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