I’ve been wearing my hiking boots around NYC all week. I wear the clunky, unfashionable boots out to the grocery store, to go get beer, to run to the pharmacy, and in the apartment I’m staying in. After 7 years of being away from NYC have I finally lost my fashion sense?
No – I’m in training. Albeit, panicked, last minute training.
Starting today as you read this I’m en route to Antalya Turkey to embark on my big adventure for the year – hiking the Lycian Way Trail on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey. I first heard about this trail when I was coming close to finishing my hike on the Camino de Santiago and was looking for another challenging walk. When I heard about the Lycian way, the views, the villages, and the culture – I immediately put it on my list. At the time my friends Warren and Betsy Talbot had been following my journey and sent me a message saying that I had inspired them to walk the Camino. I responded back to them and said – forget the Camino – come with me to do the Lycian Way.
They were in and the plan was hatched.
Table of Contents
What is the Lycian Way?
Lycia is the historical name of the Tekke Peninsula, which juts into the Mediterranean on Turkey’s southern coast. The Lycian Way is a 509 km, 25-day way-marked footpath around the coast of Lycia in southern Turkey, from Fethiye to Antalya. The route was created by Brit Kate Clow and Warren and Betsy recently interviewed her in a podcast about the Lycian Way – take a listen here if you’d like to know more about what we are up against. I actually hiked one day of the trail last year as part of my Turkey tour that I did with Intrepid Travel. I used that day to get an idea of what it was all about – a little Lycian Way test run. However we had a guide and stayed in a hotel at the end – quite different than the experience I’ll have the next 3 weeks. I do remember that the views just from that day were spectacular, but it was in July and it was HOT. So by going in November – the temps should be a bit better, however it does mean that we will have a few very cold nights as we climb up into altitude in the mountains too.
I’m flying to Antalya today, and will arrive late and stay one night. The next morning I find a bus to Kas and meet Warren and Betsy in Kas where they recently hiked into the day before. The Talbots have actually already been hiking for 2 weeks – they started at the beginning in Fethiye. Due to my travel schedule I couldn’t start with them at the beginning, so I’m joining them at a little under the halfway point in Kas and we will walk the remainder of the trail (3 weeks) together.
Even though the trail does go through a number of villages where there will be supplies and lodging, we will be camping for the majority of the time. So that means that I’m carrying a tent, sleeping bag, and sleep pad with me. We expect to finish around November 21st. I expect to be a few pounds lighter and much stronger.
And that’s all I know of any plan. The rest is simply to hike, find food in the villages, and enjoy the scenery.
How I’ve (not) Prepared
I haven’t. That’s the honest to God truth. And no, being this ill prepared was not my intention – after all I’ve had a whole year to prepare, but besides running a few times a week and carrying my backpack around – I’ve done no physical preparation.
In a frantic last ditch effort this week I have been wearing my hiking boots around everywhere in NYC to get used to them again. I’ve also went on two 6.5 miles walks and NYC with a backpack full of 25 lbs of hand weights to try to get my knees and ankles prepared for the pain they’ll be experiencing the next 3 weeks.
I HATE being this unprepared. It drives me insane. I lay awake at night chastising myself. And then I hate that I hate being this unprepared! I’m a full time traveler – I should be able to roll with this stuff better. See the vicious circle of my that is my psyche? But it is what it is. I know that this challenge will be physically painful, mentally difficult, and at times defeating – but I’ll get through it. One foot in front of the other – I’ll get through it.
To borrow a phrase from the Adventurists – “It’s not an adventure if you know you are going to make it.”
Betsy and Warren on the other hand have been preparing all year. They’ve been doing a ton of hiking and other longer distance routes. They’ve been carrying all of their hiking gear along and have gotten used to wearing backpacks on the trail. All of this makes me wonder why they would want an ill prepared slug like me to join them – but they knew what they were getting themselves into, so I can’t worry myself about it.
I keep telling myself – I MUST pack light, light, light – this is my mantra. My goal is to keep my pack under 20 lbs – ideally 15 lbs. However when you are carrying a camping gear that makes it a bit more of a challenge. I am the proud owner of a new one person lightweight tent – it’s under 4 lbs. The instructions said it would take 4 min to set up – so last week I decided I better do a little test run and try to set it up. I went out to the Fort Tyron, and proceeded to take 40 min. trying to figure out how to set it up! Eventually with the help of a friend, reading the directions over and over, we figured it out. I’m expecting after 3 days of setting it up on the trail I will have it down to 4 minutes tops.
I’m taking extremely minimal items, in fact I’m doing the unthinkable – I’m not taking my laptop or my camera.
Strangely this may be what I’m most excited about – being away from this keyboard for a few weeks. Even travel bloggers need a vacation. My laptop will be taking the flight with me to Antalya, but that’s where it will stay until I’m finished with the hike. I’m not even bothering with backup drives – which makes me more than a little nervous.
I will be taking my smartphone with me for gps mapping, and I’ll have a Telecom Square mifi – so presumably I’ll have a little access on my phone – but I don’t really intend to use it much at all. I’m taking it more for mapping and security. I’m also hoping to take my Kindle for some reading. But I will be journaling by hand – the way I used to do it!
The lack of my DSLR camera will most likely be my biggest digital detox challenge. The views along the Lycian Way are spectacular – begging to have photography done – and I get physically upset when I see a potential picture but can’t take it. However, I just can’t carry the extra weight that a heavy DSLR and lenses bring with it. I will have my smart phone and will be able to at least snap a few shots, but as we all know – it’s just not the same.
My Challenges and Fears (there are many)
So – you may all think that I’m fearless because I do this type of stuff all the time – but you are wrong. In fact I’m quite the opposite and am scared of many things. I decided to simply put it all out there in the hopes that talking about my fears will make them less. Or maybe you’ll just think I’m crazy – which I may be.
• Wild dogs on the trail (I’ve heard rumors about this and I really dislike dogs – especially wild ones in foreign countries!)
• We’ll get hopelessly lost. The trail is supposed to be marked – but it’s not going to be like the Camino – it’s much less traveled and maintained.
• My right knee will rebel and decide that I’m too old to do this.
• I will slow Warren and Betsy down.
• I will think too much.
• I will finish this and still won’t have answers that I’m searching for.
• Warren and Betsy will be sick of me or vice-versa.
• The trail will be narrow and steep which make my fear of heights kick in.
• Dogs…yes, I worry about them that much.
• I won’t have packed the right gear for the temps.
• I’m not in good enough shape.
• I’ve done little to no research about the trail…a recipe for disaster? I do have a book and a map though.
The good news is that Warren and Betsy are experts at teaching people how to embrace your fear – so I picked some great people to hike with! Keep in mind though even thought I’ve spoken with Warren and Betsy many, many times on skype and via email, we’ve only ever met in person for 3 hours and shared a beer in 2011.
I will be writing about this experience on the blog in January – so you’ll have to wait until them for all of the details of how it actually went and if any of my fears materialized.
Offline But Posting
By the miracle of pre-scheduling on wordpress and by the hours of work I put in before I left – you’ll still get 3 Ottsworld articles from me a week even while I’m offline. And there are some great articles coming up about Vietnam, Canada, and Maui…so don’t miss them!