Penultimate Climb and Grind

Lycian Way, Turkey. Goynuk to Hudacili Ridge.

A kind word to describe Turkish utility services such as water and electricity might be ‘intermittent’.

Waking to no electricity means no WiFi or internet so for once a rest day means exactly that, no concerns about how far we are behind with the blog.

On learning we intend to go into town in search of an ATM our host offers to drive us and wont take no for an answer.

His car is a souped up beautifully restored red and white Opel Rekord of which he is very proud. The interior is immaculate with velvet like fabric covering seats and inside roof in an orgy of vermillion.

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Goynuk is also without power and none of the ATM’s are functional however a shop owner advises that the power is expected to return at midday so we elect to have a drink in the open air cafe and watch local life go by.

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A television sparking back into life alerts that power has been restored and we are soon back in the grounds of the Naturel Pension where I put the full pool to good use as Pam lounges on a banana chair in the shade nearby.

Our patronage is obviously appreciated as the young man that assists with running the pension comes out with a couple of drinks and tells us that ‘they are from us’.

I inform him that next time he gives any Australians a free drink he should tell them ‘it’s my shout, mate’ which raises a bewildered smile.

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This young man has really looked after us since our arrival. He is a smart young guy who is reasonably fluent in English and has very fluent German and is seeking to also learn Russian to deal with the increasing number of visitors from that huge country.

After our large dinner, which once again we cannot complete, we give him a tip which sweetly completely surprises him.

We have advised our host of our intent to leave the next morning by six am without eating breakfast to get an early start on the long climb ahead and paid him after dinner.

No one is awake as we hitch up our packs and head for the metal gates at the base of the stairs facing the street below the pension grounds. We are at a bit of a loss as what to do next when we find the gates are locked.

Shushing the two dogs who have befriended us during our short stay we do a scout around the fence line and find a section made of chicken wire that we can push down and step over before making our way through the bush to the road below.

A hikers escape.

Lower ridges of the hills we have conquered are radiant in the early morning sun and Selene wanes against an azure backdrop that brings the emerald and grey hills into sharp relief.

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No one is stirring at this early hour and two tame rabbits obviously intent on rapidly repopulating the bunny world are the only mammalian life we see before we encounter our next locked gate at the entrance to the aquatic park.

Just as we are about to start looking for alternative ways to climb around this latest obstacle an unhappy looking man appears through the door of the ticket office and comes towards us.

Pam immediately offers to pay the 5TL entrance fee for each of us however language barriers intercede and we have a lengthy conversation where no one can understand the other that ends in him writing down 5TL X 2 on a scrap of paper.

No problems mate, thats what we suggested five minutes ago.

All things considered we have done well, it is just before 7am by the time we circle around the blue water dams at the confluence of the mountain streams and begin to climb up the left slope of the right valley.

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The ridge to our left begins with a peak of 1318m at Kopuk D then drops to a saddle before climbing once more to Delik D which reaches an imposing 1654m above sea level.

To our right as we slowly make our way up just left of the watercourse in the deep valley the ridge begins near the peak of Cam D at 1356m before sloping gradually down to Kat T which is a mere 1061m above sea level.

From our lowly vantage point these high ridges almost block out the sky and our field of vision is further diminished by the bush and forest pressing in on our path.

Our goal is to climb on and on until at least 5pm and then to camp in the first available site that presents itself after this hour.

Our hope is that we will climb to at least an elevation of 1000m to make the final day a little easier.

One foot follows the other in an unceasing chain.

Terrain we have become very accustomed to passes by as we grind on relentlessly, tree trunks fallen across the path we either climb over or under, rocks and scree leave us unfazed, we cross the stream via a metal structure with large leg breaking gaps without blinking then cross back via a slippery mossy weir.

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Each time either of us calls for a break we begin looking for two stones suitable to sit on.

Our guide warns that once we reach higher elevations water becomes scarce and unreliable so we have set out carrying three 1.5L water bottles each. The extra weight in the rear of my pack feels like I am carrying an extra 5kg instead of 1.5kg which throws of my balance and I am very relived when Pam and I have each drained our first bottle.

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On and on we grind, and just before we cross the now dry watercourse to the right side we are passed by an older German day hiker with a light pack who is absolutely racing up the hill.

He is obviously a man on a mission and barely pauses to say hello before leaving us in his wake.

I have downloaded an GPS altimeter app for the iphone during our rest day however it seems wildly inaccurate and I soon abandon any belief in its indications despite checking it each time we rest.

Nonetheless between a combination of the mapswithme app and our paper map that tears a little more each time we use it I manage to work out that we are making astonishingly good progress.

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The elevation chart in our guide tempers any premature celebration as each section indicated gets progressively steeper and steeper and we are still only about halfway along the first valley.

Resting on stones beside the trail we hear the sound of hikers coming towards us and are soon friendlily greeted by two Turkish men who are hiking the other direction as far as Kemer.

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This friendly pair have hiked from the starting point in Ovacik in the same direction as us last year and have returned to complete the last section.

They mournfully second our statements of how surprised we are to have so infrequently encountered Turkish people walking the Lycian Way however break out in smiles again as we describe how beautiful we have found the amazing countryside and how welcomed we have been by the Turkish people.

When they ask if we know any good places to stay in Goynuk we are happy to recommend the Naturel Pension and give them the business card that has the location marked on a map on the back.

I take a photo of them and ask consent to post their image online however we forget to ask their details to send the image which most Turkish people seem to enjoy.

It is not until I review the photos in our tent later that night that I realise that I have somehow left a droplet of salty sweat on the lens after this encounter so I apologize for any blurry outcomes that follow.

From here the gradient ahead steepens markedly and each step pulls us closer and closer to level with the ridges that still rise high above on each side.

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We take a half hour break on comfortable stones. Pam has refreshed our supplies in Goynuk and we feast on soft cheese on tostas along with our customary dried fruit and nuts.

On the march once more, gradually we expose more and more of the sky overhead until at last we gasp our way up onto the mostly clear ridge that forms the backbone of two valleys heading in opposite directions.

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The dodgy information displayed on the altimeter more or less matches the 1000m elevation that I would expect from our paper map and it is still only early afternoon. With still at least three hours to go until our 5pm camp search time we have already climbed almost 1000m in the day which sets a new personal record for us both.

Pam celebrates our accomplishment by lying down on the grass with her singing feet elevated on her backpack while I do my best to force the surrounds into the camera lens.

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Being this high and looking out at the beginning of two long watercourses that both originate from this green blunted geological knife edge is a completely new and slightly magical experience for me.

There is a little wooden grave on this ridge that has me wondering if some poor Lycian hiker just gave up entirely at this point rather than face the steepest 500m plus of vertical climb that is yet to come on this two day hike.

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Two slightly less extreme choices face us at this point.

Camp here at this extraordinary site and waste the light remaining on this beautiful day having already succeeded beyond our expectations or march on in hope of passing the 1400m Hudacili Ridge and risk being unable to find a suitable campsite beyond before the sun sets.

Already knowing what Pam’s response will be I still ask the question just in case.

Minutes later we find the trail where it reenters the forest beyond the little wooden grave and begin contouring slightly downhill around the 1186m peak of Asilik G.

Another slope of trees tops presumably blasted from their trunks by some massively fierce localized wind awaits around the next ridge edge which opens the amazing vista of the ridge and lofty peak to our left, that we have yet to climb.

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A series of spectacular peaks line the ridge of the valley opposite to the one we have ascended with the blue waters of the Mediterranean lapping the heavily developed shores of the beaches of Antalya beyond.

Every bead of sweat has been worthwhile.

Amazing views distract us from our foot placement which could have very serious consequences.

Reminding ourselves that we have to endure, we get back to the business at hand after I have taken a long series of photos.

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Tree trunks, rolling rocks, scree slopes, we have already conquered worse, however each step leads us slightly down and by the time we have reached the beginning of the steepest slope of the day we have surrendered more than 100 precious meters of altitude.

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The final slope indicated on the guide elevation chart is greater than 70 degrees according to the dodgy scale used however the path we follow zigzags back and forth in loops that grow shorter and steeper as we climb.

Our early morning start means time is still on our side and we are unconcerned by the breathers we frequently take when either of us calls for a break.

Rest Often, Sip Shallow, it’s an effective mantra for steep climbing.

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We are maybe halfway up the final 500m grind in elevation when we reencounter the fast moving German day hiker who passed by us in the morning.

This man is truly a pocket rocket for he has scaled Hudacili Ridge, dropped 100m in elevation skirting the valley that follows, climbed back to the road at over 1500m before turning left and powering up along the service road to touch the TV broadcast tower atop Sancinar D at 1811m before turning on his heel and heading back whence he came.

Even though it is getting close to 5pm by now I would bet good money that he makes Goynuk before dark.

Absolutely amazing.

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Lesser mortals such as Pam and I just have to keep sweating and grinding our heavily laden arses slowly uphill.

And this is exactly what we keep doing until at last we clamber through the rocky cleft that forms the pass on the precipitous edge of the steep Hudacili Ridge that runs down the south eastern slope of Sancinar D above.

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Our guide recommends clambering up these pointed rocks for magnificent shots of the valley and hills below however there is no way that my tired legs could have a chance of victory over my vertigo so I don’t even bother.

Just looking down the precipitous path leading from this rocky knife edge 1400m above the elevation I am most comfortable with provides all the excitement I can bear.

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Remembering the boost to my agility that the painkiller taken a couple of days ago provided we pause here to drop another of Pam’s ‘blue boys’ each and regather our wits.

Since the magical green crest where we last took a long rest we have not seen a single flat stone free area suitable to erect our tent Vincent and we both agree that we will stop at the first even semi-suitable place we encounter.

Beyond Hudacili Ridge the Lycian contours quite steeply downwards around the head of the valley fold lying amidst the high peaks surrounding it’s rim.

Invariably the path either narrowly teeters along steep slopes or winds through what Kate Clow describes as grassy scree where large stones are semi-hidden by thin green grass that gives the illusion of softness from afar.

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We have quickly lost more than one hundred metres elevation before the path flattens out and once more we begin to climb.

Both of us are becoming concerned about being stranded on these steep slopes in the dark as the sun has long since dipped behind the rim of the ridges far above us and we are already walking in the long mountain twilight.

Crossing one last little ridge a beautiful sight presents itself. A slow running fresh water spring trickles through a rusty pipe into an algae filled trough and just below this cool refreshment is a little clear area under the branches of a tall cedar.

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Beggars can’t be choosers. Though I am none too happy about camping directly under a tree after witnessing the devastation of whirled trunks and boughs we have walked through in the afternoon, tonight the air is still and calm and really we have run out of options.

Within five minutes Pam is spreading our sleeping gear out on the floor of Vincent and I hang out our sweaty clothes to dry a little on a chainsaw felled tree trunk before I head up to fill water bottles from the little spring.

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The rusty pipe that completes the flow is partially blocked and slow flowing and after taking what seems an eternity filling the first water bottle I clear the pipe from the inside which results in a much faster murky stream.

By morning I am sure it will have cleared nicely and we now have plenty of water for the night so after taking one last photo of my sweet wife smiling through fly netting I join her for our final Lycian camping feast.

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In the fading light I check the GPS altimeter one last time.

1420m plus or minus 20m above sea level.

Tonight we sleep where Angels hover.

PLL

Pam and Mick

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