We arise refreshed, break camp, haul on our packs, and cross to pick up the trail. Which, unfortunately, is nowhere to be found. Back at our camp, there’s a trail marker not ten feet from the water, and higher up are the blazes we followed down to the river. The trail must cross the river. We search again, this time without packs, going upstream and down, climbing the far bank in hopes of intersecting the trail. If this is Kate Clow’s trail, it should climb the ridge that marks the far bank, drop to the main valley then climb to Göynük Yayla. But, rereading her description, we read that our campsite is not exactly the “grassy open spot” she describes. This isn’t her camp and we may not be on her trail after all, despite the red and white blazes.
Have we missed a turnoff earlier? We pack up and walk slowly back to the puddle with the dead fish. There are no branch trails.
with lighter packs or cooler weather (we are already sweating heavily), we
would scramble downstream to the main valley, counting on crossing the main
trail sooner or later. But yesterday has
made us cautious. We are no longer sure
that we’ve ever been on the
But the trail still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Just after a spot I’m sure I remember from the trip down, we turn a corner and find – a pure clean spring, with water pouring out of a pipe and into a large stone trough. How could we have missed this on the way down, when we needed it so badly -- only to find it now, when our water bottles are still full? Is Kate Clow the magical realist of trail guide writers?
In fact, without warning, we’re on a new trail, also blazed in red and white. It’s going in the same direction, but unlike yesterday’s trail, this one searches out the views (and the long drops) to be found by hugging the cliffs where each ridge drops into the valley.
Trudging up the same slope we came down yesterday afternoon, we relive the first harsh hours of the previous day’s hike. But things are better today. We are still pouring sweat, still soaking our clothes, but the trees keep the sun off our heads. And the cliffs offer not just great views but strong breezes.
Sitting in the shade after a long climb, looking at the tiny braided river far below, feeling the breeze evaporate moisture from our shorts, we are almost content. Except for the fact that we don’t know where the hell we are and have been forced to retrace our steps.
Soon, though, we do know where we are. Kate Clow’s landmarks passed unrecognized while we were going west, but now they leap into focus on our eastward journey. Bathed in sweat at midday, we reach the top of the climb and start down. On the rocks, painted messages advertise Ali’s Garden Café.
When we get down, we’ll want a cold drink – at least a liter or two of cold drink, in fact. Ali’s Garden Cafe begins to sound better and better. Especially because the only alternative is Mr. Malik’s establishment, and we’re, well, not that eager to see him again. We’d have to admit that, in fact, we couldn’t get there from here. And face the contempt of his bandit father. Silently, we agree. Ali’s Garden Cafe is our destination.
Descending out of the forest and into the sun, we find the trail full of loose stones. They slide under our feet as we jolt down the path. Who would have though that going downhill would be such hard, sweaty work?
At last we reach the irrigation ditch, the river. And the stark unshaded rocky road in full afternoon sun. It’s forty minutes to Ali’s Garden Cafe from here. We are steeling ourselves for the walk when behind us we hear the clip-clop of horse hooves. We turn to see a peasant wagon headed our way. Actually, it is a peasant cart that’s been turned into a tourist attraction, complete with tourists. The young Turk with the reins says something to the tourists, stops, and waves us up onto the cart. It’s a miracle! Now we sit under an awning, jolting over the harsh rock instead of struggling to swing our tired legs down this unprepossessing stretch of baking road. The tourists, meanwhile, eye us warily and try to stay upwind.
We don’t care. Ali’s Garden Cafe is coming up. We can taste the cold drinks. Our cart trots right up to the front door. And past it. We aren’t stopping at Ali’s, and as hitchhikers it seems rude to insist on being dropped off. Especially because I now see that the driver has handed a card to the tourists. It is an advertisement for Malik’s pension. We are driven directly to Mr. Malik’s front door and sent into the café. So this is the price of the ride – a glass of water and a large serving of crow. Mr. Malik conveys in rough German his surmise that we spent the night lost on the mountain before admitting he was right. Neither my German nor my Turkish is equal to a more elaborate explanation. Indeed, I’m not sure how much more there is to the story.
father stares down stonily from the wall.
As quickly as decency permits, we decline dinner, hoist our packs, and
walk out to the main road. There we flag
down a dolmus to Tekirova. Tekirova is a
“strip city” – a Turkish version of the strip city that can be found all along
Route 1 in the
walk to the nearest pension, drop our packs outside, and I stroll in to
negotiate the usual discount off the hotel’s rack rate, trying to look like a
tourist who’s left his car at the curb and would easily try another half-dozen
establishments if the price isn’t right.
This might not work if the desk clerk has a good nose; so I stand well
back from the desk. Success; the price
for a double room (With air conditioning!
I try to contain my glee.) drops a third to about $25. We move in, showering in our underwear to kill
two birds with one stone, wander around in town luxuriously unburdened by our
packs, eat a modest meal in a courtyard restaurant, and do some window
shopping. The stores are tiny, but the
brand names are all too familiar. One
shop seems to be devoted to “No Fear” clothing, all sold at prices that
resemble those at Target stores in the