Day 24: Alakilise Ruins to (almost) Belos

Climing the mountain

What a challenging day! Today we woke before the sun and Andreas stoked the fire from last night. And good thing, too, because it was cold! We quickly gathered our things and broke camp to have breakfast because we had a long walk ahead of us…at least 8 hours til we’d reach flat ground for camping.

We started up the valley and toward the pine forest on the left side dotted with red and yellow deciduous trees set agains the blue sky. It was beautiful, but challenging. There was a great deal of scree as we ascended, which made keeping our footing difficult. The scree also meant it was hard to stay on the trail. But we kept following the general directions from the book and always seemed to pick it back up again eventually. (It helps to have 3 people in this scenario because you can split of to investigate alternate paths at the same time when the marks disappear.)

Climing the mountain-3

The air was cool and we could alternatively smell wild oregano and pine, a pleasant combination of scents to walk by. About 3 hours in, we came across a recent rock slide. There were about 20 downed trees with leaves still green on the branches and toppled boulders all over the side of the mountain. The trail was hard to follow both for the debris and the lack of marks (we’re sure they slid down the mountain). We had 6 eyes out at all times looking for marks and still found it incredibly challenging to stay on course.

We came to a giant flat rock about 4 hours into the walk and decided to take a food break. It was beautiful with the colored trees and birds singing, and we felt confident because we were sitting on a rock with a mark. Little did we know it was the last one we’d see for a while!

Climing the mountain-2

After about 45 minutes of the three of us looking separately for the continuation of the trail, we decided to take a nearby dirt road since it was marked on the map and looked like it eventually met up with the trail. The dangerous thing about getting lost on the mountain like this is wasting precious daylight hours. We had to find camp by 4:00 or risk navigating rocks in the dark.

We took the road for about 20 minutes before finding a mark at a well. Should we veer off the road and follow it? We were feeling less than confident about the availability of marks and our ability to find our way to flat ground before we lost daylight. We decided to stay on the dirt road and follow it around to the next intersection with the trail on the way to the ruins at Belos and camp there. Along the way we passed the yayla (flat area on a mountain) where the book suggested a good camping spot. We didn’t want to stay here because we didn’t have enough water with us to get all the way down the mountain the next day, and we couldn’t depend on the water wells (which had been mostly dry or dripping with algae so far).

We walked the road for about 2 hours before finding the sign back to the trail, and we estimated a short time to Belos. Unfortunately, we were wrong! We were all so tired from climbing, walking, and navigating all day, but we simply couldn’t stop until we found flat ground to camp. We finally passed the closed up shepherd’s summer camps on the hill and descended into another pine forest area, and after 30 minutes we found an area flat enough for both tents. It was 3:30 p.m., and we had been walking for 8-1/2 hours over fairly challenging terrain with full packs, and we were exhausted.

We set up camp, ate a little, and were so tired we couldn’t sit up and talk like we did the night before. (The dry pine needles and forest area also meant no campfire.) But Andreas had it right when he said all we needed for a good campsite is good company.

We fell asleep by dark, warmer that night than before and thankful we were on the downhill stretch of the route.

Daily Stats

Where We Slept

Camping in the pine forest

Hours Walked

8:30

Perks

Morning campfire, colorful fall foliage, sweeping vistas, good company

Problems

Rockslide obliterated trail + marks, difficulty finding trail markers throughout, worry about running out of daylight + water due to time spent searching for trail. We solved our problems by taking the dirt road through the higher portions of the mountain. In retrospect, we would use GPS on this walk to stay on track or bypass the second part of it completely, walking only from Demre to Alakilise, camping overnight at these fantastic ruins, and then going back down to catch a bus to Finike to resume the walk.