The Likya Way is a ~500km walking trail connecting Fethiye and Antalya passing near ruined Likyan cities and modern Turkish beach resorts. Much of the trail isn’t accessible to bicycles, but in many places there are roads nearby so it’s possible to visit many of the same sites by bicycle. When I put this bicycle route together, I wasn’t specifically trying to follow the Likyan Way, but a few days into the trip I realized that’s what I was doing.
I met my first Likyan walker up in Hisarçandır on the same day I left Antalya. That was Elaine from Salk Lake City. She had just walked solo all the way from Fethiye (more or less). A couple days later I met a trekking couple descending from Beycik to the coast just like I was doing. They were hoping to walk all the way to Fethiye.
My plan for the first week was to head south to Korsan Koyu where I’d meet Ferda and other friends for the weekend. They were coming by car. Of course, going by bicycle sounded more fun to me. Also, not surprisingly, it ended up being very hilly.
I camped by the (very low volume) Çandır below Üçoluk on the first night of the trip. I climbed 1500m to get here.
The climb continued in the morning to get to Söğütcuması where I started to get views of the beautiful Alakır Valley.
In hindsight when Seb and I left Nemrut Dağı we should have driven southwest via Adıyaman and Adana. At the time, however, our tentative plan had been to spend the last weekend of our ski trip at Erciyes (near Kayseri) and Hasan Dağı (near Aksaray). In their effort to contain the rising number of covid hospitalizations, Turkey announced a weekend curfew. We needed either to get back to Antalya before the lockdown, stay and ski two days at the Erciyes ski resort which we understood was still open during the lockdown, or find a backcountry ski spot for the weekend. Of course, I pushed for the latter. We ended up skiing two days in Ulukışla district (ilçe) in southern Niğde province (il). It was an excellent choice.
On the way south we stopped at the ancient city of Tyana (Kemerhisar, Bor, Niğde) where the most exciting thing to see is definitely the remains of the Roman aquaduct.
After a little more adventure than we bargained for in Erzurum, Seb and I started heading southwest, doing more driving, more sightseeing, and less skiing. We found a pleasant campsite near a creek about 10km east of the provincial capital of Bingöl. Driving up and out of the city the next morning, Seb spotted a small sign: “Hesarek Kayak Tesisleri”. He didn’t know the word tesis, but he recognized kayak (ski) and swung the car off the highway.
I can’t remember what we had planned for that day, but what a pleasant surprise we stumbled upon.
The lifts weren’t open when we arrived, but the only woman in the one group there was on the phone calling around trying to get them to open up. She succeeded, and the T-bar was running about 15 minutes later! Thanks, Dilo!
Warning: there are a lot of details here about our ski day in Çayırbaşı (İspir), as perhaps someone (us?) can learn something from the avalanche we triggered.
Seb and I left behind snowy roads and good powder in İkizdere. The hope was to get away from the former but not the latter. It had snowed (again) in İkizdere (down at 600m!), but what a surprise to find so much of the fluffy white stuff on the main İkizdere-İspir highway. Sure, they don’t (frequently? ever?) plow the village roads, but until then we’d always found the highway snow-free!
Up higher, however, a plow had been through, and it was easy to get to 2100m where we entered the world’s 7th longest road tunnel. The 14km tube is more boring and less beautiful but certainly faster than the old route over 2600m Ovit Geçidi. From the map I had picked out a couple potential places to ski between İspir and Erzurum, one near Kızılkale (after crossing Ağzıaçık Geçidi (a pass)) and one near Rizekent (after crossing Dallıkavak Geçidi (another pass)). Before even getting that far, however, as we were descending Gölyurt Geçidi (yet another pass!), we had nice views of the forested north-facing slopes of Bozan Dağı (a mountain). Let’s check it out, we said.
Here’s Gölyurt Geçidi:
First, however, we had to get to the village of Bozan. The road to that village looked like this:
One of the reasons that I keep going back to Olgunlar for skiing is that there’s a pansiyon in the village at 2000m, and the road is regularly plowed. If you look at the map of the Kaçkar, you can find lots of potential skiing on the north side of the range as well. However, what’s the access like? A few weeks ago Seb and I spent a few days trying to ski in İkizdere, in Rize Province (İl) on the north side of the Kaçkar Mountains.
First, however, Seb and I had to get there. Readers may recall that we left Seb’s car with a mechanic in Gümüşhane. It ended up taking over a month before the car was ready to go again. I spent most of that time in Antalya. Finally, Mohamed the mechanic said ok, and we bought bus tickets for the 21-hour trip from Antalya to Gümüşhane via (a bus transfer in) Kelkit. Mohamed had warned that the car wasn’t perfect, but it’d probably (or did he say “maybe”?) make it back to Antalya.
We took some steep roads straight out of Gümüşhane both to test the car near the mechanic and to visit a couple old churches. A sign in Eski Gümüşhane (Süleymaniye Mah.) explained what a peaceful place Gümuşhane was during Ottoman times with Turks, Armenians, and Greeks all living harmoniously together. Until Sultan Hamid II this may have been largely true.
Judging from the name (Hegios Georgios Kilisesi) I guess this was a Greek church: