the lycian way, day two

The Klima had been running all night, and it fanned dry hot air onto us every few minutes. We were really thirsty. I awoke every two hours or so in my hippy bed and wandered around the camp at night, searching for the well. Jari claimed it was next to the mess hall, and I ended up drinking from a hose. It may have been sanitary.

In the morning we went to the mess hall and finished the remains of our potato gratin. I tried to make coffee. Nobody else was awake, save for a dirty mop dog who kept trying to nose into the kitchen.

"That dog is a monster," I suggested ."A horrible shaggy monster." It sat at our feet and watched us as we ate our gratin. A sign just outside the kitchen proclaimed bilingually to not feed the dogs, so we did not. It was a little wet outside. We cleaned up and walked to the village center for the bus back into Fethiye, to start our hike for the day. We got to the center of Kayakoy, and three old dudes were sitting at the village table and gossiping, probably. We asked them when the bus came, and they said half an hour.

It was so damn quiet. There were three (again, corgi) street dogs. They were slow. They wandered into puddles and got their paws muddy. "Maybe," Jari said, "maybe there is a brood mother somewhere in these hills."

"A corgi brood mother."

"Yeah. Spawning corgis. Or there’s like a corgi dominant gene."

"They are planning for world domination."

"The children of the broodmother will consume the whole world."

I’m doing my best to transcribe this sort of conversation you understand because I want to convey to you how mind-alteringly slow time passes in the village. We sat on rocks next to our packs in the village center, a confluence of three dirt roads, watching dogs walk back and forth and listening to three old men talk about something in another language. When the bus came by the first time, it was going the opposite way, and both of us wanted to get on just for something to do. It was quiet, though, and quiet was pretty nice. We waited for the bus to come back around.

Back to Fethiye, we transferred on a dolmus for Oludeniz (which means, I now realize, "dead sea.") We were seated behind an old english woman and a giant black guy with a respectable head of dreads about thirty years her junior. She spoke in a gossipy monologue to him about going to this or that club, and who had said what to someone else, and he only pucntuated the conversation with little "uh-huhs," so intent was his listening. The road was potholed and forested. It was still very sunny.

Oludeniz was empty. It floods with tourists in the summer, but now, it was a string of abandoned theme restaurants. The strange duo got off in front of a chinese place. We continued on until the driver told us "Lykia Yolu!" Lycian way! Our adveunture was finally actually beginning.

We walked down a highway and up a resort road, passing deeper into the forest. Both of us stopped to adjust our packs, or our shoelaces. This hiking thing was way tougher than walking without packs. We reached a huge arch, the official starting point of the Lycian way, which wound along the coast from the outskirts of Dead Sea all the way to Antalya. We would see ruins, we would see nature, we would see goats. The "i" was missing from both the "Lyc-an Way START" and "Lyk-a Yolu BASLANG-C" signs. One of the signs half-hung from the arch. We posed and took pictures.

The first day’s hike, Kate Clow told us, was a hiiiike. (Kate Clow being the insane englishwoman who spent years of her life mapping this trail and writing a guidebook. We thank her.) It goes up the side of Baba Dagi (Daddy mountain), over a pass, across a valley, and into Feralya, the cliffside village above Butterfly Valley. Does that not all sound epic? We thought it sounded epic.

Through the arch, the path took us past a bunch of construction of horrible-looking villas where rich assholes would live one week out of the year sometime in the future, ruining an otherwise spectacular view for the rest of us. It was a flat mountainside path, and we feared the switchbacks we knew would soon come. We stopped every four minutes to admire the view–big islands, sweeping mountains, other stupid beautiful things gleaming in the turkish sun. Oludeniz looked like an empty carnival from above.

As we climbed, we encountered a lot of goats. First sporadically, then in clusters. We finally went around a switchback and an entire herd was at the top of it, staring at us, waiting for us. They were easy to scatter and intimidate. We sat on a rock resevoir and popped pepto-bismal preemptively (both of us had been feeling a little queasy) and drank our water and ate apples and hazelnuts.

After a few hours, we made it to the top. We hoped this was sort of the end of the hike, because we were really really tired. A village man, the first human we’d seen, shouted excitedly to us about how there was a village ahead and how he couldn’t make any money! No money! No jobs! Ha ha ha ha! He sawed some trees. We were really hungry. The trail, now on top of a ridge, flattened out and wound through a strange half-finished castle project. I mean, I understand the impulse to build a castle on a mountaintop. Empty, always empty. The trail became a service road, and we followed it past the castle site into a four-house village. The mountainhead roase dramatically above us to our left. We looked down to our right, where a flat fenced yard hosted three little girls in pink playing with a ball. Drying laundry hung off a crusty tree. An old woman came out of the stone doorway and stared at us as we passed. Beyond the fenced yard, a cliff, a drop, the ocean in the distance. Merhaba, we waved and shouted. The woman smiled and waved back.

The road cut through the village and out onto a rock plain. We saw sporadic dead trees, half-buried in landslide. We kept expecting the cliff to break in half and watch the mountain tumble down. Always we followed the waymarks. The trail is waymarked with two stripes, a red and a white, painted on rocks or trees or telephone poles every hundred meters or so. Half the fun of the Lycian way is following what you think is the trail, getting anxious when you don’t see a waymark, checking the guidebook and trying to figure out what Kate Clow was talking about when she said "a fairly well maintained grassy path" and searching for the great red X which marks false paths. Our waymarks were on telephone poles along this service road, and it led through some redwood-looking territory. The sky got grey and we started to feel drips. I got nervous. We had been hiking for five hours now, we were hungry, and neither one of us were sure how far away the next town was.

We walked beside some stone walls and along the main street of another village before walking to a ledge and seeing the sprawl of Feralya. An iron telephone tower dropped its wires to the valley below. The mountainside wound along and out into the ocean. We saw ads for a pension, a german restaurant. Some russians had written some graffiti for fellow walkers–Jari translated for me. Something like "pavel was here–great trip!!" etc etc etc. The trail went through some densely wooded stuff, and was cut off by a high wire fence, so we had to squeeze alongside the fence until we got into a gully and back onto the main road towards the village.

Feralya was also empty. Though larger than the mountain villages, Feralya was still a smaaaaaaaall town. with a single road that rose and fell as the mountain dictated. We passed some houses, a mosque, a shuttered pension. Nothing seemed to be open. I kept bugging jari to maybe we should check out this german tourist restaurant/hotel. It was of course closed. We saw some fellow hikers–it was the korean people we’d spotted in Kayakoy the previous day, and their new antisocial swiss friend, coming up from butterfly valley.

"We did the paragliding," the korean guy said.

"Oh man," I said. "We turned that down yesterday. How was it??" Jari and I watched his expression anxiously.

"It was…" he looked uncertain. "It was a once in a lifetime experience, very special." We groaned.

They went to find the bus schedule–they told us about a guesthouse in Fethiye where they were staying, and Jari and I realized we did not want to sleep in Feralya. It was five or so, and we were again looking at many hours of nothing in between sunset and sleep, in a mountainside village where nobody spoke english. The swiss guy located the schedule next to the blue bus shack on the road. The only bus was coming in two hours. We groaned again.

"I’m going to eat my own ankles off, so we’re finding a restaurant. Do you guys want to come?" I asked.

"No, we will wait here at the bus stop."

We found a restaurant on the cliffside and ordered some chicken. We considered bullying our boring new friends into joining us, but then the food arrived, and I went into blackout eating mode. Jari did the same. They wandered up after an hour and a half anyways.

"Are you hungry?" they asked. We’d just eaten. We made jokes about goats, talked about the views we’d seen. It was quiet, and quiet was pretty nice. The bus came up and we almost got in, but he was going further out of town to Kabak, the end of the road. We almost got on for lack of things to do. We waited until the bus came back around. The ride home was glorious–watching the sun plunge into the mediterranean, hoping that we would not careen off the shoulderless cliffside road and plunge into the ocean too. The driver was really going quite fast. The road got narrower and we hugged blind curves at 40, 50 mph.

"I’ve lived a good life," I said to no one really.

"Yes," Jari said, "and this is where it ends now. This is really scary."

"See, I’m not scared, because I am certain that we’re going to die on this road."

"Yes," Jari said, and laughed, nervous. "Yes, here we shall die," and we looked at the sunset over Dead Sea. I released my white-knuckle grip only when we reached sea level. We stayed in the Fethiye guest house, and let the Klima dry us out with its hot breath.

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