Lycian Way, Turkey. Karaoz to Adrasan.
Turkish custom is to enter a dwelling without wearing shoes. Having left our stinky boots on the rack downstairs our landlady Birsen has supplied Pam with slippers and when I arise the next morning for our early breakfast she does her best to get my gargantuan feet into some rubber thongs.
Eventually to make her happy I rest my feet on top of them as we tuck into an enormous fresh breakfast on the upstairs balcony overlooking the sea.
A bright blue day with barely a cloud in the sky awaits us as we bid the lovely Birsen goodbye and stride towards the Mediterranean mirror.
A sign standing at the far end of the beach indicates discrepancies in distance compared to the information written in our guide that by now we have come to accept as customary.
17km and 9 hours in the guide translates to a signed 23km and I am betting we will spend at least 12 hours getting there given the terrain we are likely to encounter.
Pam as usual is upbeat and ready for come what may, I am my normal early morning grouchy self however our initial few kilometers turns out to be on a wide smooth undulating gravel road which cheers me immensely as this is by far my favorite walking surface.
Gravel allows a little play and unevenness between boot sole and road that cushions each footfall and staves off the fiery painful pounding monotony of bitumen.
Pam seems not to notice the Clow Specials that divert down to the waterline and I just keep my trap firmly shut as we have both read that eventually we rejoin the road in any case.
Despite my frequent pauses to try and capture the gorgeous morning and surrounds we are making good time as we cruise around corners that expose one spectacular view after another.
I am happy as the proverbial pig in shite as we stride through the pine scented early morning air.
Obviously this is a very popular section of the Lycian Way as we meet several groups of hikers who have camped at the lighthouse making their way towards Karaoz and are overtaken by a bus full of day trippers who are deposited a couple of kilometers ahead of us.
Our outdated guide book describes this as a section where water is scarce however we pass two water altars as we follow the undulating road.
Drink deep and refill our water bottles, we follow our normal protocol and I seize the opportunity to spill cold water over my head and neck each time.
All good things must come to an end, our comparatively rapid progress finds us at a green and yellow Lycian sign indicating we have already knocked off six of the twenty three kilometers of the day however now the day’s work is about to get real.
We pause to allow the two German hikers with light packs who have caught us to start up the single file track then plunge into the bush.
Unusually the path remains smooth with our feet cushioned by a layer of fallen pine needles, I begin to hope that the whole section will be this easy.
Even when we turn left and begin to climb more seriously towards the lighthouse the surface of our path remains relatively good, maybe nine hours will get it done.
Greeting the two Germans we had let pass as they rest in the shade of the lighthouse we circle around to the far side where Pam sits in the shade of a tree.
An obviously popular camping site we are both distressed at the sight of the volume of rubbish left behind by previous visitors.
If you can carry it in full then you can certainly carry it out empty.
Leaving the plastic bottles and trash behind I make my way towards the blue expanse that the now automated Gelidonia lighthouse sentinel keeps a long watch over.
Grey rocks underfoot are jagged and sharp despite the wear of many footfalls before me.
Ahead the two blues of the sky and sea fuse in a distant horizon beyond four islands floating offshore.
Back in the shade of the lighthouse we sit on the concrete foundations resting in preparation for our first real climb of the day and are greeted by a friendly American woman who is soon joined by her friend who is resting her bare feet.
They are day hikers who have walked from Karaoz to the lighthouse and will return to Karaoz before being driven back to their hotel in Adrasan. Swapping tales of the challenges presented by Lycian sections we have each completed once again we find that other people are having troubles similar to our own following markers and using the guide book.
These two ladies are obviously interested in our journey and I give them our andtheywalked.com address which results in the greeting ‘hi Pam and Mick’.
They already know our names.
The world suddenly shrinks around me.
Our new friends Shelly and Stacey are traveling with Stacey’s husband. Stacey has travelled in Turkey previously and loved it so much that she has been studying Turkish at the university where she works.
Both of them are hang glider pilots and Stacey’s husband is currently flying a paraglider from Turkish mountaintops while Shelly and Stacey day hike various sections of the Lycian Way.
I am enormously impressed with our energetic friends and we get details of the hotel they are staying in and recommend in Adrasan.
‘If we make it there before nightfall we will meet you for drinks’.
Within meters of beginning our ascent typical Lycian terrain returns, stones turning underfoot, thorn bushes clutching at our clothes.
A few hundred vertical meters of ascent to 400m takes a while and I am a ball of sweat under the blue sky and hot sun by the time we finally crest the ridge above the lighthouse which exposes the long mountain flank ahead.
New horizons beckoning form a sublime reward for effort on this glorious day.
To our right boats cruise the flat aquamarine surface between mainland and the island Sulu Ada in a much more rapid and civilized fashion than our sweaty crawl.
To our left the imposing peaks of Eren T and Tuzlu B threaten potential exhausting climbs to come.
Hikers making their way in the other direction huff and puff their way up the very steep slope where we rest part way down in the shade of trees and large boulders as I do my best to wear out the shutter button of our camera.
By the time we have ground our way down this slippery slope we are still a couple of hundred meters above sea level and my knees are grateful for a comparatively easy flattish section where the path meanders through forest and glade for a couple of kilometers.
Another climb over the ridge ahead where the path apparently just merges with the sky results in a very steep and difficult descent to less than 100m above sea level through a twisting slippery gravel section where we have to clamber over many fallen tree trunks.
Pausing for a short rest halfway down we are alarmed to hear the creaking of trees nearby that seem poised to topple our way.
A young pair of Russian hikers coming the other way are practically running up the slope we are grinding down.
The day is getting on now and they are wondering how long they have to go to make the lighthouse where they plan to camp however we assure them that at their pace they will make it easily before sunset.
Slope after slope of fallen scree must be crossed on the long steep climb ahead. Each of these passages fills me with dread at the thought of rocks cascading from above and is also filled with danger underfoot as balance is often precarious on the narrow path.
We climb on and on as the sun beats down from the blue skies above. Another 300 plus meter ascent within a couple of kilometers doesn’t sound so hard however the roughness of the terrain adds its own exhausting difficulties.
Crossing a precarious high level scree of beautiful dangerous white boulders finds Pam so hot and tired that she cries out ‘am I hallucinating or is that island floating in the sky’.
A fair question indeed as the azure and ultramarine of sky and sea fuse in an amazing unbroken horizon.
With our water levels getting precariously low we are doing our best to keep our hydration pauses short and shallow however the sight of a ridge top above gives us the confidence to drink a little more deeply.
Only one litre of water is sloshing in our last bottle as we crest the ridge of a little saddle to find that we are still nowhere near the actual top and there is still a long yet less steep climb to come.
Finally we gasp our way across the real crest where the landscape changes quite dramatically. Grey rocks, cliffs and pines are replaced by red stone and more eucalyptus looking trees on the hills towards the sea.
Soon after our descent commences we get a glimpse of Adrasan and the bay in the distance which spurs us on however soon after the bush closes in and it is all grind grind grind down the often slippery gravel surface of the path that winds steeply following one gully after another.
My concerns about our dwindling water supply are finally allayed when the single file path once more rejoins a gravel road where a flowing spring is being used for drinking and bathing by a large group of campers.
Leaving Pam resting against a tree drinking the last of our tap water I fill one of our bottles and drain the 1.5L in a long scull.
Ahhhhh that’s better.
A second full bottle poured over my head and neck restores my energy and humour however Pam is content to stay dry.
Just in case I fill the water bottle again for the last section into Adrasan.
Hitching up our packs we chat to another young Russian hiker who turns out to have hiked from the mosque at Mavikent in the same time that we have taken to walk from Karaoz.
This monster 30km walk has left him with barely a bead of sweat staining his bright red shirt however he tells us that he is too tired to walk further and will be camping here tonight.
‘Perhaps we are not the walking warriors we like to think we are’ says Pam.
Luckily we still have a few K’s left in us and we join the road that passes some of the many tents that have been pitched for the night.
Pam’s kind heart is a canine magnet and as we join the road two dogs that have been watching the campers come to greet us.
One bears the blue ‘hobo’ tag in his left ear and has only one good eye which immediately earns the nickname Hobo One Kenobi while the other little female dog has a collar.
Both of them begin to follow us down the road however Hobo One Kenobi turns back when Pam does her best to shoo them away.
Hobo Hang Back as we call the little female maintains a constant distance from us and each time either of us turn around she is sitting stationary exactly the same distance away.
Hobo Hang Back follows us to the waterline of Adrasan where we ask directions to the Arikanda River Garden hotel as recommended by our American friends.
The news that we still have over a kilometer of flat walking to reach the Arikanda has us groaning for slightly more than the 12 hours I predicted in the morning has now elapsed and the sun is kissing the horizon.
Adrasan has a plethora of hotels and pensions that we stumble by along the beach road while our feet burn in our boots.
The road turns right and follows a shallow creek that is lined with hotels on the far bank with more on the side of the road we trudge along.
Bizarrely a vehicle presumably spraying insecticide to control mosquitoes passes by as we drag ourselves along the road in the twilight. I beat a hasty retreat up a gravel drive on the side of the road however Pam cops a heavy misting and is coughing as we finally cross the creek via a little footbridge leading to the Arikanda.
Finally we are stripping off our boots however in the shower I find that there is a problem with the water and no cold is flowing.
Using the still full water bottle that I filled from the spring I manage to make do with the scalding water emitting from the taps and set out for an explanation from the management.
Utility issues are far from a rarity in Turkey and I am informed that there has been no water in the whole town all afternoon and that the showers are merely running on gravity from the rooftop solar heaters.
Pam has no option other than to follow my ouchy ouchy hot and cold example.
Outside on the wooden deck that sits just above the flowing creek we finally rejoin our friends Stacey and Shelly and meet Stacey’s husband Tony.
I have had a long interest in flight and fluid dynamics and the conversation is humorous and interesting. Once more it is our great fortune to have encountered inspirational companions in our travel.
Stacey and Shelly had both raved about the food served at the Arikanda at our lighthouse meeting and our dinner confirms their opinion.
Next morning we rejoin our American friends for a delicious breakfast where the conversation swings around to Turkish honey and the extremely alarming decline in bee populations in recent years.
Turns out that Stacey and Tony are also apiarists who maintain a hive back at their home.
Hang gliding, bee loving adventurers, my admiration knows no bounds.
Our new friends are making their way to Kas today where Tony hopes to soar on the ridge above the town however he thinks it is likely to rain. We show them photos we have taken of the slumbering stone giant gazing down on the town and wish them well for the rest of their trip.
After our long rest in Finike the last couple of days have worn us out and we have decided to stay in the lovely Arikanda surrounds for a day to regroup.
As I get busy typing up our mountain adventures between Demre and Finike while sitting at the water level table it begins to rain lightly.
Bad news for Tony’s flight plans however decision justified for us.
Pam and Mick