Archive for October 2017

Mountain Scenery   8 comments

 

What is it about some people? They just have to go and see what’s over the next hill or climb to the top of a mountain just to see what there is to see from up there. Well it appears that I’m no different. My mate Bob and I had a couple of “elevating” trips recently, the first one to the top of the island of Meis (yes I was there YET again) and another to a mountain in the Taurus range not very far from Çukurbağ.

Ten days ago it looked as though we were going to lose the the easy route to Europe because the ferries that sail between the Greek island of Meis (Kastellorizo) and Kaş were going to be forbidden to ply their trade so some of us decided to be on the last boat out of Kaş. The attractions of Meis are different for different people of course, my particular wishes this time were threefold, to get a bottle of duty free brandy for Christmas, to have another plateful of Angelos’ big prawns in garlic sauce and to climb the steps to the top of the island. You can see the white of the steps going up to the top in this photo.

The two boats that go to Meis were both pretty full and it seemed to take an age waiting to be processed through the Greek immigration office but eventually we were free to roam the island. First was a bit of breakfast and a coffee then Bob and I set off up the steps. The first snag is climbing out of the town to get to the stairway and we were both breathing deeply before we set foot on step number one.

There are four hundred and one steps and for the first half of the climb there are short sloping sections between sets of three or four steps and you are eased gently into thinking it will be easy but that soon changes, breathing becomes more laboured but this is mitigated by looking back to the town to seen everything slowly receding as you gain height.

And then you get to the top

My breathing had gone back to normal but my heart was still pounding.

Once at the top we went and had a look over at St Georges church and then started back down.

The walk back down left my thigh muscles quivering and I was glad to finally reach Angelos’ Athina restaurant for a beer and a plateful of prawns, they are really delicious. Going back to Kaş a sense of uncertainty was all over the boat as none of knew when we would ever be able to take the trip again.*

I like being in mountainous country and a few months ago I bought a motorbike designed and made to go off-road so putting the two things together means that I can go and have some adventures in the local and not quite so local hills and mountains. Put like that it sounds very interesting and enjoyable, well it does to me anyway. In reality what it means is that I can dramatically increase my capacity to get myself into awkward situations where turning round to retrace my steps is not an easy option. On the side of a hill when what was already a narrow goat track reduces to nothing the only thing to do is lie the bike down and then drag it around to point in the direction you should have been clever enough not to leave. Having said that, when I get back home and sit with a beer and my dogs and no injuries except my pride I feel a certain sense of achievement and satisfaction. I keep looking for new adventures and Google Earth is my friend, or it could be the little voice on my shoulder telling me to go and try something harder, “go on it’ll be great” it says. That’s how the next “elevating” episode started.

Bey Dağ is a 3070 metre high mountain in the Taurus range up near the Elmalı pass on the way north from here. Google Earth shows lots of little tracks, dirt roads really, criss-crossing the lower slopes with cultivated fields, some small buildings and other man-made features. Should be fun eh? And maybe I could ride close enough to get to the top?

I’ve said before that discretion is the key to keeping the rubber on the road and I’m developing a sense that tells me when discretion is leaving the room, I could hear discretion slamming the door behind it when I was thinking about this trip so I asked Bob if he’d like to tag along and we’d go in my car. Less chance of getting into trouble and two heads are better than one, right? He jumped at the chance.

So last Monday we went, just to get as close as we could and make a plan, left Çukurbağ about 8.30 and drove up there. I’d made some notes on the features and turnings that I could see on the computer screen and printed a couple of maps, with only a minor mistake in the village of Küçüksögle we left the tarmacadam and headed upwards.

My notes worked well and we would have lost our way without them. Superb scenery to see, sorry about the dust on the sensor.

interesting things to see,

fantastic blue sky to see, there’s an aeroplane in there too, you’ll probably need to put your spectacles on to see it thoough.

and coming round one corner a bloody great rocky mountain to see.

We reckon on getting to the top of that? I think we both realised that this was much more than a jolly jape and we’d better take it seriously.

Eventually finding our “base” for the day we stopped and had a bit of a look round, also climbed a small hill to see if the mountain looked any different from there, it didn’t.

For me, being in mountains really brings home to you how unbelievably massive the forces are that slowly push and shape our world.

On the way home we stopped for a mixed grill at the restaurant by Finike marina, we’ll be going there again I should imagine.

After we had returned to Çukurbağ, Dave, a friend who has been doing a lot of off-road biking around the area mentioned that he and some friends had been up this mountain on their bikes, crossed over near the top and came down the other side. I had to go and have look at the route he had taken near the top because if we used the same route it would save us quite a lot of climbing and maybe make it possible to get to the summit and return home in one day rather than staying a night up there. Since I was going by myself I rode up on my bike and followed his route at the top which brought me out much higher than we had previously been.

Dave and his friends had needed to help each other, using ropes as well, to get their bikes across a particularly difficult traverse, I wasn’t about to attempt it alone so just had a walk across to check it out, this is it.

It’s completely impossible for a car to cross and there are no other ways to get as close. It’s easy to walk though and we’ll start from here. I had a think while I sat in the sun and made a sandwich, turkey and cheese if you’re interested, and had a drink of water. It is still going to be a two day job for us, we want to have a pleasant time and not just attack it as a job to get done and go away, but I had a nice day out on the bike again.

This is the mountaineers hut we’ll stay in hopefully.

It’s not far from the hut to where we’ll start from.

Stay tuned for the final ascent, weather permitting.

 

  • The day after returning from Meis we heard that the potential ban had been lifted and the ferries now run as normal. Phew!
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Posted October 22, 2017 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized

Biking   Leave a comment

It was my birthday last Wednesday (4th Oct) and by way of a pleasant excursion I rode up to Girdev lake about 90 kilometres from my house, the last 20 kilometres or so being on “dirt” roads. In fact they are not so much dirt as crushed rock, exactly what my bike is made for. The road up and over the mountains to Gömbe is good tarmac and very twisty so very enjoyable on a bike, and I made good progress most of the way but had to be a bit careful over the passes and on the north facing slopes because at that time of the morning the sun had not completely dried the dew from the road surface, sometimes discretion is required to keep the rubber on the tarmac.

Finding the right road out of Gömbe confused me but I guessed right in the end, I had checked out the route on Google Earth but of course that doesn’t take account of road works and local roads can often be obscured by trees. Anyway I soon found myself in Yeşilbarak then onto the dirt roads. It felt quite an adventure, I had never been up here before and didn’t quite know what to expect, I am also a complete novice when it comes to off-road riding skills so every further kilometre felt like an achievement.

Here is a photo of the approach to the lake, as you can see the road winds up and over the hill in the distance. I had a couple of tricky moments on the hairpins on the climb but gritting my teeth and giving it a handful of throttle did the trick, although being sideways had my hair standing on end.

It was after taking this photo that I must have inadvertently changed the settings on the camera as I tucked it away in the padded bag in the top box because all of the photos of the lake itself were severely underexposed, I kicked myself for that but I’ll just have to go back next week and take some more eh? (Big smile)

The road around the lake is in pretty good condition and I was surprised to see how many houses have been built there, must be 50 or more. They’re all well spread out of course and some appear to be holiday houses and yurts for rent. The lake was obviously not as full as it could be as large areas were more like marshes with long grass growing through a few inches of water.

I met and had a chat with some of the local Yörük shepherds. Years ago as a people they were nomadic, travelling with their families and flocks all over Antatolia to find their traditional pastures. Nowadays most are semi nomadic at best, usually having houses or camp grounds in the mountain pastures for the summer and others at lower altitudes away from the snowbound hills where the grazing is more accessible. I had to promise to return and join them for roasting a sheep over a fire and maybe even staying the night in their tents.

On the return trip over the pass I discovered my mistake when putting the camera away so I only really have two photographs, one of going towards the lake and this one coming away from it at the top of the pass that you see in the previous picture. I promise I’ll try harder next time.

 

Talking of travelling by motorcycle my Canadian friend Les sent me some photos of his recent trip from his house near Mazatlan in Mexico…

up to Brandon in Canada and then the return covering about 11,000 kilometers in total. He did the journey over the course of seven weeks staying for a few days here and there on the way.

Here are some photos of some of the state signs as he passed them.

                     

Probably not in the right order. Seeing some interesting sights on the way…

 

and getting hit in the face by a rock thrown up from a truck wheel…

oh the joys of open faced helmets.

 

Posted October 7, 2017 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized