Wow, this section was really fun. The scenery wasn’t great, it was fairly windy and too hot, but the people were wonderful, the apricots were plentiful and tasty, there were things to see, and the mosques, well, the mosques were perhaps the most interesting I’ve seen in Turkey.
The route started in northern Adana (Tufanbeyli İlçesi), passed through Kayseri (Sarız İlçesi), (Kahraman) Maraş (Afşin and Elbistan İlçeleri), Malatya (Darende and Kuluncak İlçeleri), before ending up in Sivas (Kangal and Divriği İlçeleri). So that’s five provinces (İl) and eight districts (ilçe). I’m guessing it’s more distance than I covered in any other week of this tour (so far!).
I’ve had three big mountain sections of riding on this trip (so far!): Dedegöl Dağları, Bolkar Dağları, and Aladağlar, in that order. The riding got harder, the elevations got higher, and sadly the scenery was, well, what should I say?, less rewarding from one of these ranges to the next.
The main reason people head to the less accessible east side (compared to the west side from Çamardı) of Aladağlar is to visit Kapuzbaşı Şelalesi (waterfalls). Of course I had a pass to cross (actually two) to get there from Aladağ (the district capital, not to be confused with Aladağlar, the name of the mountain range). It was fairly fun riding on a good road without much traffic with the scenery improving as I went north.
From Medetsiz it was mostly downhill to the town of Gülek, then mostly uphill to Gülek Kalesi (a castle), the guardhouse for the Cilician Gates. I arrived in the evening, pitched my tent, and handled the guard duties for one night.
It’s one thing to drive to a trailhead and walk up a mountain. It’s quite another thing, and much more aesthetically pleasing in my opinion, to make your way under your own power to the trailhead and then continue to the summit. Maybe Göran Kropp is the only one who has really climbed Mt. Everest? Actually I’m sure that’s not true as there must be numerous Sherpa who have walked from their villages to the summit.
From my house in Boulder I collected a number of bike-then-hike summits: Longs Peak (with Craig), Mt. Evans (with Kurt), North and South Arapaho (with Karl), Bear Peak (with Kevin), Apache, Mt. Meeker, a number of times up Audubon, and others I’m certainly forgetting. Once for Audubon I tried to do it fairly quickly and was pleased enough with my time that I posted it on one of the record sites that was up then. I can’t find the site now, and my personal notes aren’t readily accessible, but I can assure you it was well off what the real athletes do.
From Antalya the only ones I can think of are Sarı Çınar and Geyiksivrisi. For the latter I’m not too embarrassed to say it took 9.5 hours from my house in Kaleiçi to the summit and back. Speaking of speed Héctor Ponce de León’s sub 24 hour time from the Gulf of Mexico to the summit of Orizaba is definitely something to be proud of. Wow, while researching this post, I learned that an Italian bested Héctor’s time seven years ago, but the Mexican has come back and done it again in just over 13 hours!
Bagging summits on a bicycle tour is definitely a different style, perhaps the “Nice Michel” style, I can say? Years ago, when warmshowers was a paper list mailed annually from Balboa Island, I took advantage of a similar French list, CAC (Cyclo Accueil Cyclo), to find hosts. Michel and his wonderful family hosted us in their house near Nice. I still remember Michel describing his US bicycle tour. He flew to San Francisco, pedaled away from the airport, and along the way ended up on the summit of Mt. Whitney. Wow, “that really counts!”, I’ve always thought.
Over the years I’ve been up some peaks in that style. Two come to mind: Kaçkar from Erzurum and Doi Inthanon from Bangkok. This week it was Medetsiz, the highest point in the Bolkar Mountains. 42 days from my house in Antalya to the top of Medetsiz certainly doesn’t set any speed records. However, less than 48 hours before I was on the summit, I dropped into a canyon and crossed a river at about 500m.
Fixing my infected tooth requires going to Tarsus (pop. 340,000; elev. ~sea level) once a week to see a dentist (she cleans out the infection, and once she doesn’t find any more, she’ll do a “permanent” filling, and I’ll be done; at least that’s the theory). Meanwhile I’ve based myself in Çamlıyayla (pop. 10,000; elev. 1200m) and am able to take care of my weekly appointment as a day trip by dolmuş (public minibus). I was rather ill during my first week in Çamlıyayla, but by the second week I was feeling well enough to get out and do some loops from my comfortable pansiyon (shown here).
The first loop was just a walk to the castle, Namrun Kalesi, that towers above the window of my room. It’s on an escarpment surrounded by lower hills — the perfect place for a castle. When the Armenians were here, they maintained it. Later, the Ottomans used and maintained it. I’m not sure who built it. It’s been over restored. Continue reading →