Thursday, August 1, 2013

Saklikent Gorge

Raised walkway near gorge entrance

Cold water!!!!  

Year round cold water.  This is a great day trip on a hot summer day.  If it is cloudy or a comfortable temperature, wait for another day.  The water is far too cold to get into unless the sun is shining brightly and the air temperature is hot.

As always, click on any image for larger view.

At beginning
Yesterday we rented a car in Fethiye for a day of sightseeing.  Elisabeth had visited Saklikent Gorge last August with her parents and cousin Zachary, and she wanted us to see it too.  

About halfway 
Saklikent Gorge is a spectacular 18-kilometer (11.2 miles) long gorge, a crack through the Akdaglar Mountains which tower to the northeast.  The gorge is so narrow in some places that even sunlight does not squeeze through.  We stopped just short of the first of those ultra-narrow places.  According to signs at the park entry office, it is possible to hike the entire 18-kilometers if you are healthy, strong and agile enough to manage some rock climbing.  Those adjectives to not apply to us.  More like 'Slow and Steady' for us.

Climbing required in some places
Most tourists do just what we did -- hike roughly 2-kilometers in; turn around; and then retrace the same 1 1/4 mile route back out.   Those 2 1/2 miles were enough for us.  And technically we didn't make it quite the full 2-kilometers in.  When we reached the area where the water would have been to Elisabeth's chin, she decided we had gone far enough.  She did not want to submerge herself in that icy water.  

Writing with mud.  It washes away.

Thank you, God, for this small favor!  Neither Bill nor I wanted to wade through icy waters to our shoulders.  We would have continued if she truly wanted to go on, but were glad she wanted to stop at that point.  This spot was almost to the turn-around spot.  We would only have gone another couple hundred feet and then have to come back again through that deep icy water.  Why bother with that last few hundred feet!  Plus, I was concerned that my camera would get ruined if i slipped on those water-covered rocks in water that deep pool.  I did not bring the underwater camera because it does not take good clear photos.  The SLR camera would be ruined if it got wet.

Several places had boulders wedged overhead
When you first enter the gorge from the ticket office entry there is a wooden walkway suspended along the left side of the gorge.  The view is striking.  And the noise of the flowing water is loud.  One can only imagine how deafening the noise must be during the snows melt on the adjacent mountain range, causing streams to flow wildly and converge into the gorge.  

Another boulder overhead

There are several streams that enter the gorge beneath the wooden walkway before the walkway ends and you are once again down on ground level.  Just past the ground area another stream pours into the gorge.  A small food concession is situated here but was not open at the time we visited.  It is a lovely little park-like setting with benches and picnic tables beneath the huge fig trees. 

Fig tree growing in stone

Speaking of fig trees, they are everywhere!  It was amazing to see fig trees growing straight out of solid rock walls with no visible soil.  I had no idea that fig trees were so hardy.

Walking (?) down to cross with the lines

Hang on or be swept away!

The stream pouring into the gorge here can get pretty rough.  It was not too bad the day we visited but one could tell that it sometimes flows much harder and faster.  There were 2 lines strung across the gorge at this junction for the tourists to hold onto to keep from being swept downriver.  Downriver is where the tubing begins.  In our younger years we loved tubing the Guadalupe River in Texas but we are older now and that no longer holds appeal.

Up the gorge we walked
Fancy coffee machine in the open-
air closed concession stand.
Guides hang around this point offering their services.  Usual cost for a guide at this time was 15 TL per person.  A guide is not at all required; you can hike this part of the gorge unaccompanied if you prefer.  

However, when the guide told Bill that he would help Elisabeth and me to keep from falling on the slippery underwater boulders, Bill immediately decided that having a guide along might be a good idea.  And we were later glad that we had hired the guide.  He knew exactly where to step and kept us from choosing the wrong path through the patches of water, holding my hand to help me step up many of the rocky areas.  Falling on stones would not be good for my bad hip; it already hurts enough just doing normal daily activities.

One of the deeper pools to wade through
Our guide's name was Rece, with a squiggly mark beneath the 'c' making the pronunciation Re-she, kind of like Reggie in English.  Rece showed us the easiest way to walk down to the lines at the water's edge.  Elisabeth grabbed ahold of the line and he walked her across.  Water only reached her hip level.  Then it was my turn and Rece carefully helped me across.  Water reached chest level on me; I must have stepped on different rocks that Elisabeth!  Bill brought up the rear and he must have stepped on the same rocks I did because water also reached his chest level.  Talk about cold!!!!  My legs were completely numb from the cold water -- all the way to tops of the thighs.  Elisabeth said it was much colder than it was last year -- and deeper and flowing faster.  It took more than 5 minutes for sensation to fully recover in my half-frozen legs.  

Lovely walk in cold water.
Views inside the gorge were beautiful.  We went much farther up into the gorge than Elisabeth went with her parents last summer.  But they didn't have a guide to help them along.

Rece explained that in the early spring when the snows in the adjacent mountains melt that the water get 5 to 6 meters deep within the gorge where we were walking.   That is almost 20-feet deep!  Bet that is a sight to see.  And to hear!

Lots of climbing over rocks.  Then ever onward.
Eventually we reached a 90-degree turn in the gorge.  Just past this turn was a much deeper pool of water that one must submerge to chest or shoulder height in order to proceed.  Just past this deeper pool one must climb upwards on large rocks.  From this turn we could see the end of the 2-kilometer trek that the guide was to assist us with.  Another 200 feet or so and we would have turned around.  Meaning we would once again be submerged in that icy water of the deeper pool.  I really did not want to do this but didn't say anything because I didn't want the be the spoil-sport on this little day trip.  The cold water felt good on feet and knees; full-body immersion to shoulder level would be a completely different story!  

Headed back
Thank you, God, for small favors!  Elisabeth took one long look at that deep pool and the tall man walking through it and said she did not want to go any farther.  She did not want to get into that deep water.  Oh goodie!  We get to turn around and go back and I was not the one who spoiled everyone else's fun.  Actually, most of my hesitance was because I was worried about getting the camera wet.  I could not see me holding that camera over my head while navigating through that deep pool with the slippery stones beneath my feet.  No one has ever called me 'Miss Grace' and I was likely to lose footing in there.  Problem solved; let's go back now.

The tour buses have arrived!
As we retraced our steps the crowds began to appear walking towards us.  The tour buses must have arrived.  Glad we got in before them.  

At one point on the return walk we stopped and drank water pouring out of the wall of stone.  It was ice cold and tasted delicious.  Wish we had brought a bottle to fill. 

Many sections of the walls of the gorge are marble.  Marble is found all over Turkey; this area is no exception.  It was interesting to see the way the flowing water over the eons has smoothed and shaped the marble.  Very pretty and unusual.  

When we arrived back at the stream junction with the 2 lines across the gorge waters there were tourists everywhere.  Quite the crowd.  I was shocked at several people carrying babies and toddlers as they crossed those slippery boulders and rocks in waist-deep surging water. That seemed very dangerous to me and I am surprised that the park ticket office allowed them to do that.  Guess things are different here and if parents want to risk their children's lives then the park officials don't get involved.  So very different than back at home where I am positive it would not have been allowed.

As we walked back on the suspended wooden walkway, there was a constant stream of even more tourists making their way into the gorge.  Glad we arrived early and missed the crowds.

Restaurant outside park entrance.  Literally dine by the water
Back at the ticket office entry area were the hawkers trying to get us to go tubing.  Can't these guys see that we are too old to be doing that!  Lining the waters edge on either side were restaurants with lounging cushions arranged around low tables.  It looked very pleasant and we would have enjoyed resting awhile, but Elisabeth had her heart set on having lunch at the same place she visited last summer with her parents.  Off we went to try to find it.

1 comment:

  1. 2.5 miles sounds like plenty long enough, and cold water up to my shoulders ... brrr! I bet you were thankful that Elisabeth didn't wanna go any further. Good call!

    I LOVE figs and have tried growing a tree but I didn't have any luck.


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