Over breakfast, we decide to hike to the city of
The ruins of Olympos are evocative, though less well preserved than at Phaselis. One can walk old Roman roads on both sides of the river, where the city’s wharves are still standing. An old theater remains as well. Perhaps most touching is a recently excavated tomb, which features a Lycian sea captain’s affectionate tribute to his old ship, beached and never to sail again. Thieves have broken into his tomb, like every other that we have seen.
at the pension, we pack up. By 3:30, we’re in
climb out of
I have my doubts. I suppose it’s possible for a spring to create a whirlpool, but what sort of fresh-water spring could support ocean-going salt-water species? The oracle, we can see from here, is a mile or more from the sea, at least by way of the river, which oxbows back and forth across the valley, scraping the cliffs on either side. Cute story, but Polycharmus doesn’t sound too reliable to me.
We swing with determination along the road, finally reaching the trailhead by 7:00. It will be full dark in an hour. Still, we should be at the bottom in 40 minutes or less.
Unless we get lost. Which of course we do, twice. Each time, we retrace our steps and find the trail again. But now we’ve used up our luck. The sun is down. The red-and-white blazes look black-and-white now, and the trees and rocks are full of black-and-white marks. By 7:45 we are still high on the ridge, plunging along switchbacks, desperate not to lose the trail again and just as desperate not to slow down. At least the trail is finally done meandering and seems to be headed more or less directly to the river and the beach. It seems darker every time we make a turn on the switchbacks. But luckily the trail has descended into scrub, and it is easier to follow. Below, we eventually see the beach. Then we can see the river. We keep plunging on. At last, with the moon rising, we reach the bottom and stand at the river’s edge.
Relief is followed by doubt. With our feet on the bank and our backs to the cliff, we realize that there is no place to camp here. Across the river is a vast expanse of beautiful camping-friendly beach, but this is the biggest river we have encountered, deep enough even now in the depths of summer to break through the beach and pour into the sea. Looking around, we see a bridge. Of a sort. It looks as if it were built to illustrate a Tolkien novel. Branches, most no thicker than a finger, have been tacked together to form three or four crude ladders and then lashed into an arch. The whole thing dips and swoops a few feet above the river, its wobbly legs perched precariously at the edge of each bank.
Left with no better choice, we start across. There is no handrail for most of the crossing. Where there is a handrail, it is 18 inches high. I crawl. The river rolls on below me. I have no difficulty seeing the river through the bridge. In fact, it’s easier to see the river than the bridge. But, to our surprise, the bridge holds. Gordon follows.In the dark, we set up camp. Wood is hard to find. The river, however, is cold and refreshing. We take off our boots and walk into the center to fill our bottles for the evening meal. It is late, and we are tired as the water boils. Perhaps it’s the exertion and stress of the last few hours, but nothing tastes good. Tonight, in the hopes of avoiding insomnia, we are making hot lemonade rather than tea, but there’s something wrong with the lemonade mix. It gives a metallic taste to everything and leaves me craving the last of the water we bought in town. My mouth feels pasty and coated, and I wash it out with the store-bought water, which seems to help a bit. We are seriously dehydrated, and relief is not coming quickly. I drink three liters of hot lemonade and go to bed still unsatisfied.