Hike/Climb on The Lycean Way 2014 (Tahtali Dag)
We set out hoping we'd be able to climb Tahtali, the snow capped peak visible in the distance from our base in Antalya, but guidebooks do make it sound as if it's a technical hike in the winter, with a need for crampons and ice axes, so it was a bit of an unknown quantity. Our party was made up of a real mix of nationalities, reminiscent of my hikes in Bali, with guys from Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, England & Scotland, Finland, the list goes on....there were eleven of us in total.
We drove down the dramatic coastal highway to a place called Behsik, where we drove up the road until about the point it became a stoney track, by which time we'd picked up the red and white trail markers which were painted at regular intervals on roadside rocks. Once you're on that trail, it's pretty easy just to follow the markings - a map would be useful or a GPS track but we had a bit of a guidebook and the markers and it turned out to be enough. It was a glorious day, clear and crisp, so after stashing the cars at the side of the "road" we had a brief meditation then headed up on to the hillside.
We were soon passing between pinewoods and traversing bare, stoney tracts of hillside, always able to find a trail marker where the path split. The view back down over the undulating landscape to the mediterranean was magnificent.
Higher up, dense pinewoods gave way to majestic cedars and our first patches of snow. By the time we got on to the "plateau" at around 1700m there was plenty of the white stuff around, frozen and slippery in places. None of us had proper mountaineering gear - just trekking gear - but I had brought along 3 pairs of yaktrax so I handed those out. Soon we were sharing them among six guys, so each of us had good grip with at least one foot, and we were employing either poles (I'd brought mine, with steel tips) or branches we'd picked up on the way.
You can see from the pictures what we encountered as we stepped up out of the cedarwoods. A sublime snowfield on a steep, broad and open slope. You could make out the trail as a slight depression in the snow. The surface was frozen and slippery, and after a few of us made it half way up we realised it wasn't practical to try and get the whole party to the summit. The yaktrax were designed for level ground, and while they gripped well there was no certainty they'd be enough to get us safely back down that slope. In any case no-one else had poles and there were only 6 yaktrax between us. Anugata is an experienced mountain man who has scaled peaks all over the world, including this one in December 06, so when he was keen to call a halt the rest of us didn't take much persuading. Why risk it, when you have that amazing plateau of cedars and snow to explore, with several mini-peaks and ridges and incredible views?
This last shot shows us retreating down the snow slope towards the trees, where we gathered under a huge cedar and set our sights on a peak just above the treeline that looked a more feasible target for the day.
As it happened, we didn't quite make it to that unnamed peak, but we got to a delightful ridge-top with awesome panoramas from the high mountains further inland to the shining sea in the gulf of Antalya.
We gazed, we meditated, we had a laugh, we shared out biscuits, apricots and chocolate bars, then it was time to head back to make it to Antalya in time for our evening meditation function.Maybe I'll get to the top some time? I'm sure the Sri Chinmoy Centres will gather here again in a few year's time, and then I'll know what kit to bring!
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