Finding Hiking Zen Along the Lycian Way

February 27, 2014 4 Comments »

Lycian Way Gelidonya Lighthouse
A trail where I can walk and think – just what I needed to find my zen.

In every long-distance hike, you go through the normal ‘change’ progression of shock, denial, acceptance, and 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 from 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 solely the basic necessities. I had to adjust to life’s simplicity at the lowest level – walk, eat, sleep. Some go through this change progression faster than others – and Warren and Betsy were two weeks ahead of me in hiking, so they had found their hiking zen – but I was still in search of mine. After a week of hiking/boating and a few mental setbacks – I was about to slip into acceptance and commitment – my hiking zen.

Finike to Gelidonya Light House

Lycian Way lighthouse Hiking
The Gelidonya Lighthouse is in my sights today!

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 coastline and little hidden beaches and campsites. Had we known these campsites were here, we might have planned our hike differently so we could have ended here. However, 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, 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, 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, breathe 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 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. It was a bit of a setback for me, but it was 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 8 PM! 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.

Kumluka Lycian Way
Road hiking from Kumluka towards the lighthouse
Lycian Way Adrasan
I’m finally enjoying those views!
Lycian Way lighthouse
Losing the road and entering the trail section climbing towards the lighthouse
Camping Gelidonya Lighthouse
Gelidonya Lighthouse perched on the peninsula.
camping Gelidonya lighthouse lycian way
Setting up camp with a view!
Sunset view
Betsy and I watching the sunset and eating our simple hiker’s dinner!
sunset lycian way
A lovely zen sunset.

See Warren and Betsy’s account of the day on their Hike The Lycian Way Daily Journal

Back to Blog

4 Responses to "Finding Hiking Zen Along the Lycian Way"

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Back to Blog