4 days of hiking since our sojourn in lovely Ucagiz and the surrounding turquoise waters holding the ghosts of a once mighty civilisation.
It’s been 4 days of up and down. In terms of geography, terrain, health, emotion and decision making.
First up Ivor gets a work call that makes him anxious to get home and organises a flight for the 11th- ten days early. So we need to plan where we can be to get him a bus back etc.
We had already decided to leave out the upcoming 3 day (3 long days climbing to 1800m) section over the mountains as there are no food, water or accommodation options and the amount of water we’ve been drinking made it too much to carry. Way to much. So we were going to do the popular choice of getting a bus from Demre to Kumluca and a quick spin in a Dolmus to Mavikent to start the trail again. Taking out that chunk made it much easier for me to finish the Lycian Way in time.
But first we had to get to Demre.
Setting off as usual in the gloaming, down a concrete block road that seemed to radiate immense heat, past the boatyards, a cemetery ( a reliable source of water, like the mosques, as the Muslim faith seems to be keen on clean), and a stretch of plastic greenhouses and goat pens.
The track alternated between smooth red soil cleared of stones to the more usual jumble of ankle twisting rocks.
We knew there was supposed to be an isolated cafe/ bar/ camping at an inlet along the coast and we were hoping for breakfast but it was still early when we got there and the only person around was still sleeping it off.
A funny set up the place seemed to be closed but this kayaker was staying in a tent and making himself at home at the inn. He talked about a customer who was camping and made us a cup of tea. I saw my first kingfisher.
The indented coastline and offshore islands made for very sheltered anchorages and we past some with many yachts floating between blue and blue.
Turning inland we crossed a stretch of thankfully level ground before climbing up to the tops of the cliffs and past more greenhouses around the hamlet of Kapakli.
It’s been shocking to witness the amount of plastic going into the environment here. So many plastic water bottles and the hanks of plastic cord that the greenhouse crops grow up are all dumped- to slowly slowly become part of worm, earth, plant,fish et all. All but the rocks I guess.
Descending again to the coast on more rocky ground we stopped for a swim at beautiful Cakil and continued on a sometimes tricky scramble to eventually get to a footbridge across the river Sura and the big wide beach at Andriake where I couldn’t resist another cool down and we organised a cab to the bus station in town.
Arriving at Mavikent around 5 we only had time to walk down the seafront strip alongside the beach to where the rag taggle collection of homes on stilts ran out and we could find somewhere to pitch our tents.
We had a few km of road walking in the morning to get us to Karaöz from where we would do a big loop down the peninsular to Gelidonya lighthouse on a long, strenuous and exposed route. The scenery was spectacular. Towering mountains and tree covered cliffs above a tranquil transparent sea. We stopped, or were stopped, on arriving at Karaöz by an insistent proprietor of a cafe where we had breakfast.
Out past more greenhouses and fully loaded with water we headed off, past Pirate Bay, long a hang out of the bad men , and on past numerous campsites, some more inviting than others. I had to stop at a beautiful fruit/ flower garden for some freshly squeezed before the long hot climb up and up to the lighthouse.
By this time I was over hot and dizzy again so had some electrolytes and cooled myself in water from the wasp and hornet surrounded cistern. We rested up in the shade but were too harassed by insects to camp there as planned. One of them got lost in my belly rolls and stung me! Talking to a hiker who’d arrived from the other way and looking at his app there seemed to be camping options further on so we saddled up again and carried on. After a while a group came down towards us led by a lively and boisterous fella we’d met on the trail a couple of weeks ago. Turned out he was a guide and he gave us the heads up on a spot at the high point pass to camp. Some of his group, those struggling at the back, were suffering visibly while he loudly and happily sweated on his way. Speaking of sweat I produce a drop from the end of my nose every couple of seconds and my shorts look suspiciously like I have embarrassed myself after a very short time of exertion in the heat.
Next day was another tough hot one when I had to stop once or twice feeling a bit faint. Something was up and I wasn’t sure if it was heatstroke. But we made it up and over another mountain, past more ruins to the cooling and reviving sea at Adrasan, where the gulet day cruise boats anchored up on the beach and parascenders swooped in to land. We bobbed about in the ocean, found a camp and frequented the stall of the lady selling frozen organic fruit juices.
So after discussions with my medical support team it seemed a possibility that my blood pressure meds were too strong for my current exercising, undereating body causing whitey like symptoms, and to try a day without them. Much much better.
But in the meantime I had wondered if it was a good idea for me to continue solo – not in great shape. It’s wild out there and if you fall ill on your own……
Anyway the next days hike, which was another pretty tough sea level to 800m and back through scree, rock , scrub and thick and fallen forest felt ok. No dizzy fits.
We left Adrasan along the beach and then the river, where pensions and restaurants had their tables placed over the water like the river at Seti Fatma in Morocco’s High Atlas where I hiked last year.
As we climbed we past a goatherd and his jumping bucking bell tinkling herd. Also a squashed scorpion. I’ve been disappointed not to have seen a live one, or a snake, or a tortoise. Actually I did see a little tortoise in the first few minutes of our trek- but it was similarly squashed.
Amazing views from the top of the pass as we looked out at some big mountains including Tahtali Davi/ Mount Olympos the 2366m giant I was hoping to cross the back of. So , what goes up must come down, though why sometimes they can’t go round alludes me. It was a long descent clambering over and under many fallen trees but the surrounding scenery got more and more spectacular. At a pass there was a building and a grain threshing floor. Extraordinary to think of growing grain right up there.
And then we were looking down at Olympos. The site of the ruins and the modern village of glam ping, camping, boutique hotels, eco resorts and restaurants. A very steep path slid us down to a badly needed Fanta and a decision was formed. Health and safety considered it was not wise to continue solo. I could rest on a sunny beach and bob about in the cooling waters for a week. I could check in to a nice hotel and hang by the pool sipping cold beer. But why would I when I could return to an Ireland entering winter and self isolate in a tiny wooden cabin for two weeks quarantine.
And having lost one of the Three Amigos before we started, better that the remaining two return together.
So we ambled through the ancient ruins of Olympos and swam in the sea again before moving on a little to Cirali where we eat and I wrestled with the Ryanair “change your flight” section before giving up in despair and moving to the “buy another flight sucker” section.
So a final day of sea and sun awaits and also a trip to the ” burning rocks” of Chimaera this evening. Tomorrow we’ll have to get to main road bus route and start the long return.
I’ll post a report of the flaming rocks and overall Lycian Way thoughts in a couple of days.