Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Road Trip from Lake Bafa to the Lycean Way

The last time I was in this region was the summer of 2011, and it was my last trip in Turkey before moving to Barcelona.  I had just gotten off a Blue Cruise in Fethiye, a private yacht a group of ten friends and I rented for four days of exploring small uninhabited islands off the Mediterranean Coast.  My friend, Randy, was visiting me from the U.S. and from Ovacik we began trekking the first part of the Lycean Way. The two major lessons I learned, however, is that July is way too hot to hike in that region, and that you don't need to truly backpack.  There are plenty of pensions littering the small towns along the Lycean Way.  So with my first holiday back in Turkey, Kurban Bayram, I influenced my new teacher friends to head back down to the Lycean Way with me.  This time, in the perfect month weatherwise, and with a rental car chock full of car camping gear.
Our first stop was Lake Bafa.  It is an inland lake created when silt deposited by the Buyuk Menderes river sealed off the Latmos Gulf from the sea.  It's 100 square-miles of brackish water surrounded by strangely-sculpted pinnacles.  We rolled in late at night, and woke up to this view:
Our campground:
We headed out to explore, and quickly picked up this friend. My fear of wild dogs is slowly subsiding,  after my ass-bitten experience in Ankara. Thank goodness!

This is the town of Heracleia, first inhabited by the ancient Carion people (my people). I was particularly enchanted by the myth surrounding Heracleia.  Apparently, the handsome shepherd Endymion was visited by the moon goddess, Selene, while he was sleeping in a cave in Mount Latmos.  Now, this was no ordinary visit.  She made love to him 50 times, and produced fifty daughters without him ever waking once.  Though unconscious during the sex, he somehow enjoyed how he felt when he woke up, because he went and asked Zeus to let this go on forever.  Zeus granted him this wish, oh he of little abstinence himself.  Thus Endymion was allowed to dream forever, and has come to be known as the demigod of the wet dream.
On our hike through the ruins, these village women tried to harass us into buy their handicrafts.
Tortoises, the only wildlife one will ever see in Turkey. Such an overhunted land!
We headed up Mount Latmos, not towards the cave of wet dreams, but towards some ruins we spotted from a distance.
This is actually a rock climbing venue for climbers in Western Turkey.  We saw one face was bolted for sport climbing, but most climbers visit the region to boulder.  Can you spot the steps that have been carved into this boulder by the Carions?

We scrambled...
We came across these steps leading to nowhere several times in our scrambling.  Step into the heavens!
Our view from the cafe where we had lunch with our buddy before heading onwards.
Our next stop was Fethiye.  We did a day hike on the Lycean Way from Kaya Koyu to Oludeniz and back.  There's the Med!
Oludeniz is a paragliders' paradise.  We enjoyed lunch on the boardwalk, then lay on the beach staring at the paragliders as they glided above us.
Sunbathing & swimming in the ocean in late October!!
We arrived back at Kayakoyu just as it was getting dark.  It is a village dating back to late medieval times, but was occupied and vacated by other groups of people as well.  In this century, the Greeks left in 1923 during the Great Population Exchange, and then the Muslim Macedonians moved in for awhile before leaving due to the infertile land.  Instead, they headed to Australia, of all places. Here's the abandoned ghost town at sunset. Creepy.
The next day we visited Saklikent Gorge.  This gorge channels all the water of Ak Mountain and fills up with with bubbling spring water.  It was cold, silty, and the clay sucked your foot in on every step. The slot canyon gets narrower and narrower as you hike back. It goes for 14 km but we only hiked for an hour or so before turning back.  Some of us were in barefeet and we were all cold.  I haven't done anything like this in a long long time, so it was the highlight of my trip.
That night we camped near Xanthos, the capital city of the ancient Lycean Federation.  The modern part of the town of Xanthos is a sea of greenhouses where they're growing tomatoes.  When we first arrived at sunset, the sun's reflection made the town look like a white sea.
The Xanthos River:
The city of Xanthos was originally connected to the tale of Pegasus. Historical mention of the city dates back to 540BC, when the Persian general Harpagus descended into Xanthos Valley and subjected the city to siege.  The Xanthinians responded by gathering their families and making a funeral pyre to kill all the women and children while the men perished fighting.  This was just the first local holocaust.  In 42 BC during the Roman civil war, when Brutus besieged the city, the citizens again made funeral pyres and cast themselves into the flames.  It was no surprise that when we camped near these ruins that night none of us slept well.
On top of this sarcophagus, there are corpses in the form of babies being carried off to death by harpies.
Nearly a full moon lit our campsite that night. We set up our tents right by a hillside littered with sarcophagi and cave tombs from 400BCE.
The next morning, we spent two hours trying to find the Lycean Way trailhead.  Luckily, we were able to wander around the ancient ruins of Patarra, the Lycean's main port, while searching.

Hot, lost, and hungry:
Okay, we found it. Here's looking back at Patarra Beach, the longest uninterrupted sandy beach in Turkey, 9km.
Here's John laying in a Lycean rock tomb:

Classic Lycean Way shot:  a gorgeous sea view and the Lycean way red-n-white trail marker.
On our last night before heading back to Izmir, we camped at a private lagoon near the town of Dalyan, which some locals told us about.
During the whole holiday, we managed to steer clear of the crowds, and soak up warm rays and swim in a still-warm Mediterranean Ocean.  The vegetation was just barely starting to show hints of Fall colors. This region of Turkey rocks especially during this time of year, and we're all itchin' to go back.  My happy place is a mental picture I took of walking barefoot along the sand dunes of Patarra Beach in search of some ruins in the middleground and a tall peak in the far distance jutting out of the sea.

1 comment:

Fatih Buzgan said...

VayVayVayVayVay :))

I re-lived those nice moments by your well-describing words and well-angled photos. Thank you Carrie!