Hiking the Lycian in Summer, AKA What Happens When you Ignore the Guidebook

And not just the guidebook. By hiking a section of the Lycian Way in July, my friends and I ignored practical advice from every corner of the internet. After a quick Google search, you can find credible sources advise left and right advising DO NOT HIKE THE LYCIAN IN JULY OR AUGUST. In capital letters. Extreme temperatures, challenging terrain, and access to filterable water all combine to make the Lycian a fall or spring activity. We, however, are only here for the summer months. And with Bayram–the holiday at the end of Ramazan–being our one break from school…enduring the mid-July heat was a necessary price for an incredible adventure.

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We made do with July’s conditions. I would, however, definitively defer to the experts and avoid the larger sections of the Lycian in the summer months. The route we chose (between Adrasan and Antalya) allowed regular access to towns where we could purchase water. This became really important as, in three days, we only found one stream with running water. The rest had dried up. We also tried to avoid hiking in the hottest part of the day. Thus, while we were fine, I plan to avoid returning to the trail in the summer months–but I do plan to return! If our quick jaunt (or, as my friend preferred to call it, weekend death march) accomplished anything, it reinforced how much I want to explore more of this beautiful slice of southern Turkey.

In all honesty, we were fairly unprepared and therefore pretty lucky. We were, however, remarkably well-equipped for students who came to Turkey, each with only vague hopes of hiking somewhere. What we didn’t have, we were able to borrow from a friend’s family in Istanbul. Thus, armed with a tent, sleeping bags, and enough tahini to feed a small army, we headed northeast from Adrasan, a town about 100km from Antalya.
DSC02395Above was the first sign, literally, that we were heading in the right direction. Unfortunately–and in a pattern we came to expect over the next three days–we promptly lost sight of the trail’s exact path and had to do some guesswork.

DSC02399Guesswork or not, the views were completely worth it. Forgive the oncoming flood of photos, but trust me– it’s necessary.

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A first glimpse of the beach.

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Not a bad view for a snack break.

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For the next picture, I have a confession (sorry, mom and dad). We were very unprofessional hikers and did not set out with a clear idea of the trail markers we would be following. I knew that they would be red and white, but, beyond that, we weren’t sure. Circles? Squares? Not recommended. Luckily, though, we were able to resolve that issue pretty quickly and, for the most part, followed this red and white striped flag.

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Finding that little marker was no picnic, though. We began our trek at Mt. Olympos- and a steep, steep uphill trek in the mid-day heat inaugurated our taste of the Lycian (we really could have planned better). It turned out, though, that the soaring temperature wasn’t even the tough part. Instead, we found ourselves descending the mountain as the light faded–only to be completely baffled by the placement of trail markers. It was as though someone had taken up the marked stones, shaken them like dice, and scattered them haphazardly about the hill. We found ourselves bouncing from one side of the slope to another, following something that occasionally felt reminiscent of a goat path but often looked like no trail at all. All the while, the light grew dimmer and dimmer. After a time sensitive descent, however, we finally found ourselves in the small, backpacker friendly beach town of Olympos.

Day two brought more ascents and even more spectacular views. This day, we left behind the red and white horizontal flag and instead followed this one:
DSC02420To the guidebook’s credit, it warned that this alternate route would sometimes be difficult. We were nevertheless unprepared for what exactly we signed up for. After a gentle uphill climb, we found ourselves trekking up the spine of a mountain. A spine that kept going and going and going. Eventually, we were essentially scaling a dried-up waterfall.

Fun, yes. Rewarding, definitely. Challenging, absolutely.

The smartest idea given our level of preparedness? Maybe not.

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his picture was essentially taken vertically (from above), staring down at the rocks we’d just climbed up. Once again- sorry mom and dad!

For all this effort, we were–again–rewarded with some spectacular scenery, including frequent glimpses of these islands.  DSC02424 And several private beaches.IMG_6325  And these mountains. I really can’t get enough.

IMG_6339We were also rewarded with this spectacular mountain-top campsite and its accompanying morning sunrise.

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Our final day of walking was more of the same– some steep climbs followed by gorgeous beaches and rewarding views.

Between the heat, the bugs, and the rough terrain, the Lycian definitely beat me up a bit. It was, however, an incredible trip and exactly what I needed. A challenging hike, fabulous company, a perfect weekend.

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