Lycian Way, Turkey. Belcegiz to Gavuragili.
Tossing and turning on our narrow rubber mats we both wake often. Still chill mountain air of evening stirs violent during the night however our Tempest 300 pitched in the lee of the ridge and stone walls is barely ruffled.
I listen as boughs from the big tree above the Austrians creak and groan.
Rising early the night winds have abated, clouds scud over the ridge we are perched on greeting us in clammy morning embrace. We eat our last couple of small handfuls of nuts and dried fruits. At least we still have plenty of water.
Coming last is nothing new for ‘the slowest man in the world’. Our compatriots pack and leave without a word or a wave. The more civil Austrian hikers wish us well as they stride off while we are rolling up the tent.
A network of radiating goat tracks combines with a scarcity of markers and my inner morning fogginess, we have lost the way within fifteen minutes of setting off. Another quarter hour is spent retracing our steps and finding a marker.
Back on the correct goat track we contour around a peak and then over a low ridge.
First to see the sea and say it.
Down, we go down. The trail is faint, steep, scrambling over inclined rock surfaces where a misjudged rocky marble underfoot could become massively injurious or potentially fatal.
Taking our time I have to turn back often to provide balance points for Pam who is having a tough time of it. We rest often and are passed by a German couple and a young couple from the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
Our new friends have also done the Camino back in 2001 and we chat and reminisce for as we all rest for a short while.
Towering cliffs wrap craggy arms about each side as we struggle on. Pam calls out in shock as she slips on rocks underfoot and goes down.
Luckily she has chosen a relatively benign place to land on her derrière, not even her pride is injured in falling.
Down, we go down. Knees singing, feet screaming, bright sunlight burning the skin on my exposed right hand. We spend hours making our way down this one slope that curves down and left around the steeper peaks above.
Finally the faint trail of markers painted on sloping rocks between bushes and scree becomes a path of sorts again.
We grind our way down, flat farmland down to our right has temporary shepherds huts and we listen as they call, whistle dogs and move their flocks.
For a short while right at the bottom the trail follows a gravel track before veering right and down once more descending over a series of punishing climbs down the stone walls of farmland terraces.
Cruelly the way inevitably rejoins the smooth road a little further down, my knees sing a little song of retributions to come for the author of our guide book.
There is an air of abandonment as we approach a large uncompleted governmental looking structure. The gravel road turns right just before this grey multi-storied monstrosity and we pass by a pension that has been advertised on little hand drawn signs nailed to trees during our descent.
Saying hello to the man inside the barred gates we move on, we have read about a pension ‘Patara Lodge’ in this area that ‘hovers above the sea on cliffs’ and are keen to locate it.
A couple of corners on we drag ourselves towards locked tall metal gates and attempt to spark the intercom into life as a ferocious sounding dog inside the walls barks on and on.
There is no reply on the intercom, I can see no way past the gates and would not wish to brave the slavering Cerberus even if I could enter.
Disconsolate, we attempt to find some shade and rocks to sit and rest however are unsuccessful.
Our climb down has been long and strenuous, we have eaten very little and have no food and hardly any water left. Pam is having a low blood sugar moment and seems a little irrational.
Time for me to take charge.
Despite Pam’s protests that we need to just keep on I insist we return to the functioning pension we have just passed to have a sit down, refill our water bottles and have something to eat so that we can rationally consider our options.
Though telling Pam she is being cranky was probably not the wisest move, at least she now has thoughts of retribution distracting her from how bad she feels.
I can hear her muttering threats under her breath as we drag ourselves back up the gravel road to Candan’s Garden.
Our host Ali seems unsurprised we have returned and opens the gates as we approach. We collapse onto the chairs that surround one of the two outside tables under shade cloth and Ali appears with a jug of cool water and two glasses.
Ali is obviously a mind reader ‘you need something to eat’?
Ten minutes later we are eating a delicious omelette, with goats cheese, tomato and cool yogurt. Ten minutes after that the world is looking a much rosier place.
Spirits renewed we notice the two young dogs in the yard who have not even lifted their heads on our arrival.
Composure restored we discuss options, despite it being only early in the afternoon, we have read that the town ahead is basically a ghost town where we will be unable to purchase supplies and the walk from there is long.
Pam finally concedes we need to do washing and will need to eat in the evening.
We elect to stay for the night. YAY.
By the time we have washed two days of sweat from our skin and clothes in the shower other guests are arriving as we hang out the washing. Within a couple of hours there are another six guests at the pension which fortunately has many well furnished large, comfortable rooms and several solar hot water systems.
By now fully recovered, Pam wants to walk down to the beach at the bottom of the cliffs towards the village Gavuragili. I have had my fill of cliffs for the day however the thought of swimming in the Mediterranean is definitely tempting.
Walking down the gravel track we encounter two of the other guests staying at the pension, a German man John and a Netherlands man Peter who have teamed up on the Lycian after starting individually.
‘Two sets of eyes to find way markers’ makes sense to me. I would hate to attempt walking this trail by myself.
Both of these gentlemen state that the beach was large stones with huge surf crashing that made it ‘impossible’ to swim.
That is ‘red flag to a bull’ sort of talk to a good Aussie like myself. Now I have to swim regardless.
From above I look for the huge surf we have been warned about, it is maybe knee high, sure the beach is mostly stones however at the far end I spy some sand between the rocks.
It is on. I nude up, do the walk of shame out to where I can float over the rocks below and add the Mediterranean to the list of Seas and Oceans I have swum naked in.
This scent of grandeur quenches conversation
Still the brook beside me babbles on
Whilst I, ever panting in ascent
Feel my wake of atrocity and error
Drip from me to wind the long downhill
Resolve briny in our salty mother
This rock temple, Sol’s bitten clean
Barb purified I enter
Moss soft ‘neath soul and feet
With my bright companions I am replete
As in this sanctity of sunlight
The past averts into the future
There is something about swimming in the ocean that makes me feel complete, I always feel at home here.
Back out on the rocks I sit for a while like a shag whilst the sun and breeze do their job, it has definitely been worth the walk down and the walk up to follow.
As we climb the steep tractor track back two young American men are making their way down. Originally from the US one of them has been living in Europe for over ten years and the other for over two. Like many others they are walking sections of the Lycian.
They confirm that Gavuragili is indeed a ghost town, and describe it as kind of spooky. I offer tips as to the best way to enter the surf if they want to swim.
Back at the pension all eight guests gather for dinner, in addition to John and Peter we are joined by a couple Howard and Judy from the UK and a couple of Russians who’s names I unfortunately do not catch.
The two young dogs look on bright eyed and interested now that food has entered the equation.
Ali is a great cook and is very knowledgable about sections of the Lycian Way to come. Conversation round the table is interesting and humorous. Ali gives great tips that include taking a Dolmus through the immense valley of ‘tomato tents’ we have seen from the hillside above rather than walking through this industrial wasteland.
Back in our room we sleep deep, full bellied and content.
Pam and Mick