Bicycle touring Bolkar Dağları (more mountain eye candy)

I said goodbye to Ferda in Ayrancı and knew that I had a climb ahead of me.  I was leaving the Konya Plains (Karaman, in this case, I suppose) and heading into the Bolkar Mountains.  The first 40km climbed a barely noticeable 500m, but the scenery did start to change.

It's not much, but it does seem that I'm leaving the flats. by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200618_165532 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200618_170347 by bryandkeith on flickr

The climbing started in earnest in the village of Kesir: 1200m over the next 25km.  That’s still a very reasonable grade, but it’s definitely, well, noticeable.  I was heading into sheep country.  Here they are on the road:

IMG_20200619_114028 by bryandkeith on flickr

Here’s one with a broken ankle in the trunk of a car:

Here's what you do with a sheep with a broken ankle. by bryandkeith on flickr

And here’s Adem the shepherd, treating me to a filling lunch in his trailer:

Adem was super generous.  He gave me yufka, potatoes and köfte, yogurt, çay and sıkma.  It was cold outside so it was nice to get out of the wind in his trailer. by bryandkeith on flickr

Yufka with potatoes, köfte, and yogurt; çay with sıkma — Adem made sure I didn’t go hungry.  I had just climbed 700m from Kesir, was hungry and ready for a break.  It was also great to get out of the cold wind.

After lunch, as I climbed higher, the scenery was better but certainly not spectacular.

IMG_20200619_154653 by bryandkeith on flickr

Another 400m of climbing passed Adem brought me to this structure:

IMG_20200620_075822 by bryandkeith on flickr

just as the rain was starting.  Inside the shelter I put my tent up with the fly which ended up being clever as the roof leaked quite a lot.  However, there was a fairly dry spot to cook dinner so it ended up being a comfortable camp.

In the morning I came to the nondescript pass and practiced my very poor selfie skills.

The top of the non-descript pass, at ~2650m.  I definitely have not mastered this selfie thing yet. by bryandkeith on flickr

I must say at this point I was disappointed with the mountain scenery.  It wasn’t dissimilar to what I saw three years ago between Toros and Taşkale which shouldn’t be so surprising because those passes are only about 20km apart.

It was a short descent to an uninspiring high plateau:

IMG_20200620_094126 by bryandkeith on flickr

Little did I know what was coming — Cehennem Deresi Milli Parkı (Hell Creek National Park) — wow!  Suddenly the plateau was interrupted by this stunning valley (canyon? gorge?):

One of my first views into (spectacular) Cehennem Deresi.  I spent the next few hours riding along the ridge to the right looking across at the mountains in the left and center of this photo. by bryandkeith on flickr

I spent the next few hours riding up and down on rough roads along the ridge to the right in that photo with frequent views across to the mountains in the center and left of that photo and less frequent views down into the canyon itself.

IMG_20200620_122503_6 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200620_132259 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200620_132127 by bryandkeith on flickr

This road that stuck closest to the ridge was in poor shape at times, but it was always bikeable. by bryandkeith on flickr

I was definitely no longer disappointed with the scenery.  The plunge from the rim to the river was from 2400m to 700m.  Wow, that’s a canyon!  Here I am fairly near the top:

IMG_20200620_162803 by bryandkeith on flickr

I was still in sheep country.  Check out the dramatic setting for this shepherd camp:

IMG_20200620_163014 by bryandkeith on flickr

I was a little confused about the national park status.  Ahmet, the guard at Cocak Kapısı, explained that there wasn’t hunting or grazing allowed in the national park.  What about this camp that’s certainly in the canyon (many camps were up on the rim, likely just outside the border of the park)?  And the next day I saw cows in the canyon as well, oh, and logging, too!

I dropped about 500m that afternoon and found a stunning camp near Topaşır.

IMG_20200620_164603 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200620_174653 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200620_183011 by bryandkeith on flickr

Here’s the camp in the afternoon light:

IMG_20200620_174548 by bryandkeith on flickr

and again in the morning light:

IMG_20200621_065138_42 by bryandkeith on flickr

Seriously?  I had never even heard of this place before.

IMG_20200621_075717_22 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200621_084255 by bryandkeith on flickr

It was a long descent the following day to the river at Pınarlıbük.

IMG_20200621_091903 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200621_092726 by bryandkeith on flickr

IMG_20200621_113304 by bryandkeith on flickr

I took a very brief dip in the river.  The water was cold. by bryandkeith on flickr

I ate lunch and took a quick dip in the very cold water before starting the easier than expected climb out the other side.  For the third night in a row I was pleased to get my tent up before it really started to rain.

IMG_20200621_160752 by bryandkeith on flickr

The following day I limped into Çamlıyayla (via Sebil (the photo below — nice setting)) with an abscessed molar, quite scared about exhausting my supply of pain drugs before getting to the hospital.

IMG_20200622_081423 by bryandkeith on flickr

Whew, always an adventure.

A warning: if you do this route, be careful with water.  It’s scarce.

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2 Responses to Bicycle touring Bolkar Dağları (more mountain eye candy)

  1. Mike Painter says:

    Wow! Wonderful scenery!

  2. ron & mary ann cohan says:

    Hi, Bryan.

    While writing to your parents this afternoon, I decided to access your blog and, as usual, was rewarded with your always-interesting verbal and pictorial descriptions of your latest biking adventures; e.g., your visit with Adem while he hosted you for lunch – in contrast, and being less adventurous, I don’t recall ever dining with a stranger; if only experiences like that were widely repeated around the world. You’ve clearly avoided our virus-induced, cloistered existence! All good wishes to you and Ferda. Ron Cohan

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