Lycian Way, Turkey. Kalkan to Bezirgan.
Just a little kindness from a pure heart reaps rewards of lifelong friendship in the canine world. Hobo2 has apparently slept in the gardens of our pension as we tossed and turned with whining mosquitos dive bombing us during the night.
After we clomp down the stairs he rejoins us on the road with a look that plainly says ‘so what’s next new friends’?
‘Breakfast in a cafe down the street’ we reply with our marching feet.
Today our intent is to catch a dolmus back to the village Ulugol beyond Kalkan where the Lycian climbs steeply over a mountain heading for Bezirgan. Inside the cafe we are told that no dolmus service will pass through Gelemis in the morning and that we need to walk the 3 kilometers to the main road.
Hobo2 falls into rhythm with us as we walk up the road. A few turns out of town a dolmus heading in the other direction stops and hails us. When we explain we are heading towards Kalkan the driver states that this is where the dolmus is also going and we climb aboard.
Pam cannot bear to look at Hobo2 as we drive away. If ever we lived in these parts we would end up with a hundred dogs or more.
Little did we know that while the dolmus would eventually make it to Kalkan we must pass through every little village on the way to do so. It is past midday when we are alighting back in the parking lot of Kalkan bus station.
Today the sun is burning down with not a cloud in the sky, neither us of is keen to start a long steep climb in the hottest part of the day. We find a nearby hotel with good WiFi and get to work on the blog.
Next morning Pam complains that the shower is cold and has no pressure. After breakfast I discover that no water at all is coming from any of the taps in our room. Pam returns from downstairs with the news that water in Kalkan has been turned off and no one knows when it will return.
This is a real problem as we don’t have any of our water bottles filled.
Pam dismisses my concerns not realising that this is an omen for the day, ‘we will just buy water before we leave’.
Fair enough. With full loads we climb back to the bus station, buses to Ulugol and beyond leave every quarter hour or so. In no time we are alighting just prior to the outskirts of Ulugol where the Lycian climbs steeply up a gravel road beside houses.
Goat tracks over the usual rocky climbing terrain take us up and over the ridge ahead and over the other side. Near the base just before we cross an open field we are overtaken by a group of seven hikers. Four adults, two teenage boys and a young child sitting in a hiking carrier on his fathers back.
All nine of us are at a loss when we catch them at the bitumen road on the far side of the field. No Lycian way markers can be seen in either direction.
Pam and I consult the infuriating guide and mistakenly read a paragraph or two ahead of where we actually are. Our Australian friend Kay has put us on to a GPS app MapsWithMe for locating paths loaded on OpenStreetMaps and thinking I am acting in accordance with both the guide description and this iphone app we turn right and keeping the valley mosque on our right take a left turn up a gravel path where the bitumen turns sharply.
Up and up we climb, not a marker in sight. The day is hot and the climb is steep. By now Pam is wanting to turn back and retrace our steps however I insist on keeping us climbing thinking eventually the path we are on will meet at the top with the Lycian.
By the time we have passed a farm house and followed its entry road to the main bitumen road above I know I have acted erroneously.
Heading back down the bitumen road in search of the Lycian steam is coming off my head with frustration and from my feet just from plain heat.
Down, down, down, losing hard won altitude with every step. My frustration levels turn incandescent when I realise that turning left and following the road at the bottom of the valley for a few hundred meters would have brought us to the water cistern and shade by the Lycian trail entry where we now rest fuming.
Our guide advises that it is possible to refill water bottles at this cistern however not even dust comes out when I turn the taps. Having already used more than half our water in the climb so far I am concerned about our remaining supplies.
Pam’s comment that ‘according to our guide there are wells at the top of the hill’ does little to reassure. I am becoming less and less enamoured with this supposed guide the more we use it.
Remaining options seem to be to either strike off uphill and hope for the best or wander in random directions in hope of finding somewhere to buy water.
Passing a little graveyard (which I take as another omen) we set off climbing for the sky following a gravel and rock track that zigzags up the high steep hill.
Gaining altitude rapidly provides one stupendous photo opportunity after another. Kalkan and the blue Mediterranean beyond, the hills we climbed around to Patara, the valley of the tomato tents.
Back against the horizon steep hills we climbed up and down making our way around the coastline blur blue between sea and sky.
Above our heads grey crags of the hills we sweat and grind our way up form crisp silhouettes against the blue.
Finally we make what we think is the top only to find it is but a crest and collapse on the ground for a rest nearby a seasonal shepherds hut.
Pam is so pooped that she just lies on the ground beside the path which looks so comfortable that I find a patch of grass and little flowers and let gravity do it’s thing.
I am just thinking to myself that I will take a photo of the flowers and grass from my eye level when a small herd of goats being tended by a couple of white shepherds dogs cross the crest.
Sometimes these white shepherds dogs can be ferocious, barking, growling, baring their fangs, standing their ground and hard to pass by.
I am still lying down when one of these dogs sees me and bounds over. He appears overjoyed to encounter a human lying down and enthusiastically joins me on the ground for a puppy cuddle, rubbing and writhing with his tail wagging like a threshing machine.
A goat goes to leave the herd, like a flash my new friend is up and climbs over me leaving a farewell footprint on my face.
Pam is laughing hard at my woofy encounter, the other dog remains completely aloof, the herd moves on.
The sun is burning down now, I check the well we pass a few meters on. The water level is so low it is beyond the reach of the rope and bucket and I can see so many dead frogs floating belly up that I would not drink the water in any case.
Nothing else to do other than climb on towards the next crest. Passing another couple of shepherds huts and a few more wells I check again and again for water. All the wells are bone dry.
Up and up we climb, stones rolling neath our feet.
At least the next crest is a genuine hilltop, Pam finds a supine position once more. It is amazing where comfort can be found once you are really tired.
Taking a few gulps of water each leaves only one full water bottle remaining. Now I am getting worried.
Leaving behind yet another ground-water fed bone dry well at this little hilltop plateau we begin our descent. The track rapidly becomes a rough gravel road with steep rolling-marble patches that have Pam mincing down slowly.
The road surface smooths, I catch sight of some buildings and we risk having another drink. Soon we are passing old locked wooden storage huts on the outskirts of Bezergin which is a very spread out village that occupies the green valley below.
Just past the storage huts lies the finest sight of the day. A smooth stone altar with a water tap jutting from the alcove.
After drinking deep we pour water over our hot dry heads. Cold water on the back of a hot neck restores good humour and mental clarity in an instant.
Sitting on the stone foundation we look out over the fields and herds to consider our next move. Setting off this morning our intention was always to camp however a wooden sign shaped like a pointing hand showing the direction of the town’s sole pension, 500m thataway, provides irresistible temptation.
Dragging our tired feet over a few more low rises around the valley edge we pass one deserted house after another. Half a dozen dogs greet us at the pension gates which alerts the owner to our presence.
She greets us in a Scottish accent which has Pam and her chatting like old friends however there are no rooms available. Luckily we have our Vincent Vango tent.
Bezergin is a two mosque town, both mosques allow camping in their ground however the main mosque which lies on the opposite side of the spread out village has both a toilet and the unprecedented luxury of a nearby cafe/store.
Pam is so tired by now that even on flat ground I am outpacing her. Crossing the valley diagonally through the village saps the last of her strength and we are both greatly relived to finally be able to take off our packs.
An English man Gerard has done the same rounds of the village as us and has already set up his tent in the flat grassed area close to the mosque. He greets us in a very friendly manner as we hobble up and drop our packs.
He is a very interesting fellow, works hard on building sites to gather enough funds to set off on long distance walks all over the world with no camera, phone, computer or partner.
Just him and the road.
Pam goes off to the little store and returns with some bread and cheese. I set off in search of something cold and sweet and when I return with a litre of fruit juice see a sneaky dog rifling through Gerard’s shopping bag.
Alerting Gerard from afar he is still too late to prevent the sly dog looking up in a way that plainly says ‘har har’ before scampering off with a full packet of biscuits.
With evening falling we set up our tent.
These skinny rubber mats are starting to feel comfy, we must be damn tired.
Pam and Mick