In every long distance hike you go through the normal ‘change’ progression of shock, denial, acceptance, commitment – as you stop fighting all of the changes and soreness that your body is going through and you adjust your view and attitude to the situation. And then it becomes fun. There is a lot of change to encounter when you start out hiking the Lycian Way – culture, camping, carrying a pack, food availability/choice, and of course the activity change of doing little activity to suddenly walking 12+ miles a day. I started out this hike trying to fight jet lag, and going through that familiar process of getting used to living life again with soley the basic necessities. I had to adjust into life’s simplicity at the lowest level – walk, eat, sleep. Some go through this change progression faster than others – and Warren and Betsy were 2 weeks ahead of me in hiking so they had found their hiking zen – but I was still in search of mine. But after a week of hiking/boating , and a few mental setbacks – I was about to slip into acceptance and commitment – my hiking zen.
After a pleasant rest day in Finike and meeting up with Warren and Betsy again on the trail we took off for our next leg – but this time we chose to skip a particularly hot and boring section in order to stay on schedule and get to the more scenic routes of the Lycian Way. We loaded up on fresh bread hot and steamy from the ovens, and rode in a dolmuş from Finike to Mavikent to Kumluka. This took about an hour, and cut out about 6 hours of hiking. The dolmuş driver knew where the trail was so he dropped us off in the right spot, we strapped on our packs, and started the day’s hiking. Our goal was to get to the Cape Gelidonya Lighthouse where we would camp for the night.
The trail was really a road, but a very empty road. It led us along the hot beach full of greenhouses, garbage, and even an abandoned car. But after 30 minutes the scene changed into one of my favorite hikes of the whole trip. The road climbed from the beach and took us along the cliff looking down on the coast line and little hidden beaches and campsites. Had we known these campsites were here, we might have planned out hike differently so we could have ended here. But with most things on the Lycian Way, the information was lacking so these beautiful beach campsites were a surprise to us.
It didn’t really matter as we had a lighthouse in our sights for camping! The last town we stopped at for snacks was Karaöz – a cute little town that had pretty much shut down for the season. But there was a market open where we grabbed some cold drinks and sat on the beach and had snacks. We only had 7km to go to reach the lighthouse. The rest of the trail was an old dirt road undulating among the pine trees and which kept us cool.
Walking on this gradual even terrain made a big difference in my attitude – or maybe I was simply entering the ‘acceptance’ stage of long distance hiking change. I like the more even path as opposed to scrambling through the rocks because I can actually take the time to focus on productive thoughts and not have to plot and plan every step I make. I was able to think, process things, breath in the fresh air and really appreciate the world around me for the first time on the hike. Sure – my shoulders were aching from my heavy pack – but there was nothing I could do but accept the discomfort it at this point.
The road did end though and the last 2 km were on a trail of switchbacks uphill which I wasn’t expecting. A bit of a setback for me, but worth it when I finally sweat through the pain and saw the lighthouse bathed in golden light as the sun was starting to get low in the sky. Warren and Betsy (always so supportive no matter what kind of foul mood I was in) were waving and smiling at me as I had fallen behind them on the climb and they were already setting up camp at the lighthouse by the time I lumbered in.
That night we ate our olives, cheese, bread, and cold sausage at the lighthouse and watched the sun go down. My mind was just starting to get into hiking and camping mode after a week and I actually looked forward to sleeping in my tent at 8PM! I had a lot of time to think and process things throughout the day, and I was finally starting to come around to this hiking challenge and embrace it. For the first time I thought about the trail ahead of me and felt like I could do it.
Maybe it was the view that was making me feel positive – or maybe it was Warren and Betsy’s constant support. We were at the end of the peninsula where there were no roads and no people. We had the whole area and view to ourselves. Water surrounded us on every side and the methodical rotating lighthouse beam was soothing as I dozed off after a good days hike. The best part about reaching your hiking zen – you sleep like a log.
See Warren and Betsy’s account of the day on their Hike The Lycian Way Daily Journal