Lycian Way, Turkey. Goynuk Yaylasi to Goynuk.
Knowledge of the long steep double dipper downhill to come has us up well before our new Kiwi friends. We have finished breakfast and are hitching up our packs by the time they stumble up tussle haired for breakfast and we swap best wishes for the trail to come.
Deep in the bright radiance of morning we follow the tractor path down around the orchard of the pension with high ridges folding around us on all sides.
Crossing a teetering wooden stile across the property fence line serves as a morning attention rouser before we begin the inevitable steep downhill path into the valley beyond.
Today the trail is well marked and allows us to concentrate on staying upright on the slippery rock and roll slopes however I have to help Pam down the last very steep section where the trail drops to the level of the watercourse flowing fast along the base of the valley.
There is no more beautiful place to walk than boulder hopping along a fresh water mountain stream.
Simultaneously soothing all the senses. Cool hyper-oxygenated tree exhalation laden air rewards scent and skin. Burbling little waterfalls beat any relaxation soundtrack. Splash a little cool water across the back of your neck to root you in Time and Space. Slurp a palmful to cleanse a sticky palate.
Add to this a vista that changes dramatically around every bend.
Ribbons of life pulsing down from the heights.
Spying a shallow pool thoughts of having the cool flow all around and over me beckon almost irresistibly however the morning is still early and the map shows us meeting the stream again further downhill where the guide describes the flow as more intense.
After following the little stream for a few hundred meters Lycian markers draw us away and we make our way up the steep valley side to the left where we soon join a gravel road and turn right continuing downhill.
Homemade advertising signs for the pension where we stayed last night are sprayed on occasional rocks and in one case embedded in the road we pass.
Pam and I comment on how effective these little signs are for a weary hiker in search of comfort and solace. It would be a hardy soul indeed that turns down such opportunity after a day spent climbing the steep slopes we are descending.
Meandering along the smooth road offers plenty of opportunity for shots of the hills from where we have descended as well as the steep slopes of the ridges on the other side of the valley we follow.
Twists and turns in the road eventually lead to a steep scree where markers have us clambering downhill single file again. A few hundred meters on we reach a badly eroded gravel road and turn left.
Sections of this road have collapsed so badly that only narrow footpaths remain making it impassible to four wheeled vehicles and as it drops downhill the ridges on each side close in until they tower over us.
Our path drops towards the creek again and we meet a little colourful troop of hikers making their way uphill. Most of this group are Turkish which is unusual for we have met very few Turkish people walking the Lycian and this group express that they intend to walk the entire route.
Bizarrely a young girl asks me if there is a water source ahead and shudders when I recommend filling bottles in the stream. If you are not prepared to drink from streams, springs and wells you are not going to be able to complete the Lycian.
The section of trail just beyond our meeting with this group is a landslide just waiting to happen and Pam and I scurry through the area as fast as we can.
Both of us are thankful when we have made the base of the watercourse and are surrounded by firm stone sides once more.
Negotiating the boulders and flowing water as we make our way downstream has plenty of challenges and would be potentially very dangerous if there was any real volume of water charging through the narrow high walled valley.
Our guide mildly describes this as ‘In Spring, when the water is high and the current swift, it is not an easy crossing’.
Being swept from a flooded bridge into a roiling river while attempting to cross on a motorcycle decades ago thoroughly educated me in the power of a moving current of water.
I feel that much stronger warnings would be appropriate in the guide for it would be all too easy to be pinned under a rock and drown here if you slipped with a heavy pack in even a moderate flow.
Luckily for us today the flow is low and easy, our only real difficulty is the luxury of maintaining dry boots as we cross and recross the clean clear stream.
Once more we are reveling in the glory of our surrounds, a clean mountain stream is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. White boulders smoothed by eons of flow form natural sculptures that enhance the splendourous sensory suspension.
Our path takes us towards a sound source that signals a fall higher than any other so far passed today is hidden beyond the next drop and when we make our way around and down a little further a beautiful little sheltered pool absolutely ripe for swimming lies in the shelter of massive boulders.
As long as water flows in this creek this pool will always remain full as a three or four metre waterfall constantly replenishes it’s level.
Natural born Australians consider it almost a national duty to swim wherever possible and already I have passed up the swimming hole at the Roman Ruins as well as the much humbler and more shallow swimming hole upstream.
‘It would be downright un-Australian of me to just walk on past this glorious swimming hole’ I tell Pam as I begin unlacing my boots.
Clean mountain water meets all my expectations, cool, refreshing, enveloping. Near the waterfall the pool depth increases to about three meters and I can easily fully submerge which is simply glorious in this bubbling alive pool.
Directly under the waterfall some stones enable enough purchase to lift head and shoulders from the water and stand under the heavy thrum of the crashing flow.
Given more ordinary circumstances I could stay here for hours however we still are a long way from even the halfway point of our hike for today and the hard 300m plus vertical uphill followed by a 600m vertical drop to sea level are yet to come.
With my civic duty complete I reluctantly drag myself from the cool buoyancy and return to the white boulders where Pam is sitting to dry off in the wind that has begun rushing down the valley.
Almost immediately after the falls we begin climbing away from the stream up the right bank and beyond a massive boulder protruding from the bank that allows a great vantage point up and down the stream we plunge into the pine forest once more.
After crossing a low ridge via the pine needle covered path we head downhill once more and cross a shallow almost still tributary creek the makes its way down the valley of the next high ridge we are obviously about to begin climbing.
Onwards and ever upwards, our climb begins. I am still blissing out from my swimming session and the ever increasing slope barely impinges on my waterfall zen.
Eventually gravity inserts a probe into my mind, this is hard going.
Adopting our steep uphill mode we rest often and sip shallow however today we have the luxury of a little mountain spring flowing from another wooden spout to refill water bottles.
One step after another we grind our way upwards until we begin to draw level with the high ridges on the opposite side of the valley.
A false ridge with a little subsequent downhill has us believing the hardest work is done however we soon find that the last little extra steep bit at the end is yet to come.
Finally we make our way over the last stony crest and immediately to the path begins plunging steeply downhill.
By now it is afternoon and our guide indicates hours of descent yet to come.
Pam’s knee and ankle are sore from her fall a few days ago and my knees and feet are singing. We pause again to eat some dried fruit and nuts for lunch and each take a painkiller as a chaser.
Once the painkiller starts to kick in I realise just how timid and trepidacious the pain in my knees has made me. Suddenly I am fully backing the consequence of each foot placement rather than timidly searching for optimums and my agility level skyrockets which increases our combined pace quite noticeably.
Even at our temporarily enhanced pace we still take hours to grind our way down the steep slope and as we come into sight of a nature and aquatic park that has been built at the confluence of the two major valleys below Pam asks me how I would feel about taking a rest day to prepare for the long hard climb of the final two days.
I am 100% congruent with this great idea, the long days since Olympos have sucked it out of us both and Pam’s poor beaten up feet look worse each time she takes her boots off.
Finally we make the base of the steep hillside however the Lycian has one last arrow in it’s quiver. After consulting the guide for directions we find we have to turn left at the concrete irrigation channel we have arrived at and walk back towards the blue dams that have been built at the junction of the two valleys.
This irrigation channel has seriously degraded over the years and we have to clamber around and balance over an extremely dubious path where I have to turn back and offer Pam balance points several times.
With the final potential source of serious injury behind us we join the gravel road and walk towards the gates of the nature park.
Our guide describes Goynuk as being 1.5km away however the person manning the ticket booth describes it as 3km.
We have no option other than to hoof it.
Soon the gravel road becomes interlocking brick cobblestone so common in Turkish towns and we begin encountering locals out strolling and walking their dogs.
When we come across the first available pension we are just about out of puff as it is quite late in the day and we have been hiking for almost eleven hours.
Good fortune is smiling upon us once more for we have unknowingly arrived at the delightful Naturel Pension and are warmly welcomed and rapidly ushered into our room where the shower is hot and strong.
Our host amiably shoves our huge laundry load into his washing machine for a very reasonable 10TL charge and an hour or so later we are amusing his parents, who also live in this garden oasis, by doing our best to devour an enormous meal.
Full bellies, tired bodies.
Sleep comes almost instantly on head’s contact with our pillows.
Pam and Mick.