Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Lycian Way mini-adventure, day 5: Tekirova to....?

Poppies and a misty mountain
Fortified after yesterday's exertions with börek and eggs at a local pastane, we picked up the trail again (after plodding across none-too-memorable Tekirova) on a service road behind the sprawling Rixos hotel, whose waterpark and shabby outlying buildings butt up right against the woodlands on the outskirts of town.

It was an inauspicious start to the day's hike, but after a short jaunt through sparse forest, across a campground/equestrian center, and past some flower-dappled fields backdropped by a mist-shrouded Tahtalı Dağı, we were back on favorite territory: curving coastal paths above the Mediterranean Sea, more slate blue than turquoise on this overcast morning, but beautiful nonetheless.

Lovely Phaselis
The promise of visiting the ruins of Phaselis had been a major motivation to get our tired legs moving once again, though having not been to the site in nearly five years, I'll admit I feared for the worst. Would it be blighted by garish concession stands, filled with ham-fisted restorations, or marred by new roads? Thankfully, the remains of this ancient maritime city were exactly as I remembered: an evocative series of arches and tombs and column capitals half-hidden away in the woods, centered around a wide paved-stone road leading to the sea.

There weren't many other visitors at Phaselis when we passed through, but those who were there seemed to be having so much fun, their joy was infectious: a young pair faux-fencing with sticks, a Turkish woman flamboyantly play-acting on the stage of the ancient theater, a group of tourists arraying themselves on the theater steps for cheesy-album-cover-style photos.

Seaside serenity
We took a few band photos of our own on the dramatic, volcanic-rock-like cliffs past Phaselis, then lost the trail in a maze of low brush before deciding to break for lunch overlooking the sea, across a small bay from the town of Çamyuva. Continuing on through a predictably garbage-ridden picnic area, we followed an asphalt road to the main highway, where the trail waymarks led -- in very Hiking Istanbul-esque fashion -- through a graffitied underpass and across a large construction site where a fresh pair of tunnels emerged from the hillside.

What our guidebook described as a forest track seemed to be en route to being turned into forest road, with rocks piled underfoot and some new crash barriers alongside. With one member of our party hobbled by painful blisters, we stood little chance of reaching the next village by nightfall, and after climbing up this unappealing series of switchbacks for about 45 minutes, we decided it wasn't worth continuing on.

Unlovely construction
We hiked back down, crossed through the construction site and the underpass again, and ended our hiking adventure -- this installment, at least! -- hailing a minibus by the side of the highway.

Four-and-a-half Lycian Way segments down, just 24 ½ more on to go on future excursions before I can get the trail's waymark tattooed on my arm. Kidding. Kinda.

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