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Kaçkar Daðlari, North Eastern Anatolia: A Hiking Trip

by libralady (1/18/2009)

Part 2

Day 3 – The Hike

Before long it was daybreak, the sun rising above the meadow and the warmth creeping into our tent; it was time for breakfast.  I was amazed the next morning, I could walk, I was not stiff nor did I have aching legs and after breakfast and the dismantling of the tents we set of for another days hike.  This time we were walking along a bear path, through the forest and the views again across the valley were awesome.  We came across abandoned houses and then to my delight, I found bear droppings on our track and had to take photo much to everyone’s amusement. You can see the photo on this site :) :)

I must mentioned the wooden structures that we spotted on a few occasions, wondering what they where.  Like tree houses on the side of the mountain, with white flags............. anyone know?  They were honey stores and the white flags where to frighten the bears away, as they don´t like white - apparently :):)


We came to an abandoned hamlet and stopped for a rest, taking on water and eating some unripe apples.  The houses were padlocked and looked quite new in fact.  I wonder where these people would have gone.  How could they have sustained themselves, so far from any towns?   At this point we were joined by another hiking group, but these were with an organised tour and not independent like us.  We passed the time of day, and chatted for a few minutes.  They were walking the same route as us.


As we were walking along the mountain road, a Dolmuþ appeared out of nowhere  Driving along these precarious roads, no four wheel drive vehicles, like people in the UK feel it is necessary to drive, just to take children to school. Then we came to a water fall, cascading down onto our path and we decided to climb up to the top, (not up the waterfall!) and take a dip in the cold clean water pool.  It was a perilous climb up and down and involved hanging onto branches of bushes and weeds; the water was like ice, but it was well worth it and a lot of fun.


We wound our way down the mountain road, searching for what ever shade we could, as it was a hot day, and carrying 12kg /15kg added to that.  Coming to a fast flowing river, we had to cross gave us a problem.  There appeared to be no other way to cross apart from wading through knee deep water, or climbing over some boulders.  My husband tried the latter and fell – yep, he did hurt himself, but we had to get across.  Some workmen, who were clearing the river, used their digger to lift our backs packs across and we waded through to the other side.


I think at this point, we may have taken the wrong route across the river but as we followed it, we saw the other group on the opposite side.  We exchanged some conversation with a lot of hand waving and pointing - nothing I understood but I guessed we were being told which way we should have come.  We stopped for some lunch at a bridge crossing the river, and after a short sleep in the sun (me that is!!) we were on our way again.  Our task master cracking the whip J J  and his wife hiking like a mountain goat – a joke that endured the trip!


What seemed like hours later we crossed a glacier and climbed a steep track, and wow, there was our camp for the night, the other party already in situ, with the kettle on and tea brewing. We were so grateful for the hospitality of the group, they had their own chef and he was cooking something wonderful, but sadly we were assigned to our tents L.  It was a freezing cold night, wind howling, we sustained ourselves on mostly soup and I must admit to being asleep by 8:00pm, at the end another 10 hours hiking day.


Day 4 – The Hike to Avusor Village

Waking early next morning, stepping out side the tent, we were greeted with one of the most amazing views!  My photo of this is on the site. It was incredible how far we had trekked in two days.  We ate breakfast and packed up early, leaving the camp by 07:30am, there was a big climb ahead of us, to cross the pass before the weather broke.  The sun rising above the mountains warmed everyone, but it was quite apparent that cloud had started to bubble up on the peaks.


The path was steep and hard work, the hardest so far, and I was feeling the shortness of breath, living at sea level, we were hiking at around 3000m.  I am sure this had a bearing on breathing, as I am generally fit from running.  But again, it was beautiful and we stopped to admire the views, and Liber Lake.  We had now walked above the tree line, the flora had changed from grassland to scrub and the terrain was rockier but small rocks. 


The cloud was building and becoming grey, a few spots of rain could be felt and it was getting colder.  We reached the pass just as it started to rain, which was the intention and out came the wet gear, all of us ending up looking like something from an alien world, as we scrambled down the mountainside.  Incredibly, we met several young Israeli hikers with enormous back packs, climbing up the path we were descending.  I did not envy them as the route was difficult.  At one point the mule even slipped and the muleteer hung onto him for all he was worth.


The visibility was only 50m or so, thick rain clouds engulfed us which was contrary to the previous two days hiking in beautiful sun with clear blue skies above us, allowing the incredible views.  Sadly the views had gone, and we could only follow the path.  But is some ways, this too was beautiful.


We encountered a herd of curious cows with calves, and at one point we had to move off the path to allow the calf to rejoin its mother.  It would not walk past us, but then I don’t think I would have walked past us either, without some suspicion.


Suddenly buildings appeared and children were playing in the rain, laughing at us.  We stopped to exchange a few words, and they thought my attempt to say hello was hilarious – but at least I tried.  Strangely they had mobile phones, with no signal, but insisted on taking pictures of us.  But when I tried to take their picture, the girls ran off.  It was strange, how they were so curious about us, and after my photography attempt they warily returned to be with their younger siblings.


We walked into a village and were ushered into hut, which we assumed was like the village social club, with roaring fire in a wood burning stove.  I must say that this was one of the highlights of the trip.


Already in that hut was another group or two; I could not work it out, or what nationality they were.  I guessed some where Turkish and some Israeli hikers as both Turkish and English was being spoken.  Villagers were in and out of the hut with tea, yoghurt and wood for the fire.  I think they were a little intrigued by the “English people” and soon there were several children playing outside.  One little boy was learning to whistle through his fingers and he soon became a source of amusement for my husband who remembered the whistle we had. 


The little boys soon realised we were there for their entertainment, and most probably ignored by their families most of the time.  So this new attention was greatly received.  They hung around for the rest of the day, until they must have been called in by their mothers.


Soon everyone left the hut and we were left to our own devices.  With a huge pile of wood to keep the fire going, we began to arrange the tables and cook our dinner.  A handsome young man, who seemed to be "jack of all trades", entered with some more wood.  Soon he returned with a dish of potato and onions, which was delicious.  Someone else had been with fresh yoghurt and endless tea.  We were so hungry we all tucked into our dinner with hardly a word spoken.  Then it was time for washing up, which was an outside tap and concrete sink beside someone’s house.


The roof of the village hut was nothing more than sheets of plastic tarpaulin and soon had pools of water hovering ominously above our heads.  There was torrential rain outside and howling wind.  It was not long either before water started to run through the walls and along the floor, so we quickly rearranged the room and settled down for the night. 


That evening we were able to sleep in the hut and our friends erected their tent inside and we slept on the benches.  Thank goodness for that, the weather was atrocious, howling wind and driving rain.  I suppose some would call us fair weather campers.  And sure as “eggs is eggs”, the water came through the roof with a hefty gust of wind and soaked my husband and rudely awoke me!  Next thing I remember was the calling of the Mosque at about 5:30 am, and we started to stir.

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