Distance hiked: 20km
For breakfast we ate leftovers from dinner the night before and set out on the trail by 7:30am. Initially the trail followed a street along a shady pine forest. Then it was up, up, up for the next two hours on an uneven mule trail. The steep trail cut through a dense forest on a rock laden incline. Our wobbly feet searched for secure footholds among the loose rocks. Rocks tumbled away as we trudged upwards startling a large snake who slithered away with a rustle of leaves. Our tired legs were grateful for our hiking poles as we pushed and pulled ourselves uphill.
In the dense coverage of the forest it felt like the heat and humidity were trapped; it was stifling. We were sweating profusely, cursing our decision to hike in June, and reminding each other to drink water frequently to compensate for the water loss. As we neared the top of the hill, over two hours in, we emerged from the trees into a hot, scorched clearing of dirt with a peppering of scrubby bushes.
Ploughing on, we passed an abandoned stone house once home to a shepherd and shortly after we found a small wooden structure next to a water spout where we were able to refill our water bottles and stop for a much needed rest. Two horses leered at us in the distance, decided we were uninteresting, and walked off.
After our water break, feeling somewhat rested and hydrated, we begrudgingly resumed our hiking on the unremarkable trail for another hour, intermittently losing the trail markers and backtracking. Grr.
The overgrown uphill trail was growing tiresome. But, when we least expected it, about 5 hours after starting the hike, we reached the top of the hill and quite literally stumbled upon the ruins of Phellos. Sturdy stone tombs were still intact but the rest of the ancient site was in ruins. Rectangular shaped rocks, once part of buildings, littered the ground leaving only a clue of what this city once was. Its position on the highest point around suggests it was something spectacular. We poked around for awhile exploring the ruins and surprisingly bumped into a pair of hikers coming from the other direction on a day hike - the first humans we’d encountered all day. It was an incredible experience to get up close to these remote and abandoned ruins and sighting it took some of the edge off of the grueling hike.
Feeling fatigued and ready to set up camp, we picked up the pace to head downhill toward the final destination on our route for the day, the city of Pınarbaşı. After leaving the tree coverage half way down the descent, we entered an exposed red, rocky trail. We flailed down the steep descent, attempting not to twist an ankle on the loose baseball sized rocks at our feet. This section of trail was covered with unruly prickly shrubs, stabbing us through our pants. We could see the tiny town of Pınarbaşı below us, just a stretch of homes and a mosque on one street. We knew exactly where we were heading; Cafe Dede, which we had read serves food and allows you to camp on their property. We could almost feel the sweet relief of sitting down, taking off our hiking boots, and peeling off our sweaty socks.
We stumbled into Pınarbaşı and eagerly filled our water bottles at the public water spout. We found the cafe but were informed they had no food, darn! With the language barrier we were unsure if they weren’t serving food because it was Ramadan or low season. Deflated and in need of food, we trudged on to the next town, Çukurbağ, only a few minutes away. But it was just a handful of homes and no market. We desperately hoped someone see our looks of defeat, identify us as tourists, and provide us food or shelter with promise of our money. No such luck.
It was then we recognized that we needed to change our plans. We would have to head to the larger city of Kas tonight. Although we had initially planned to hike to Kas the next morning, we needed dinner and a place to camp.
We waited at a covered street-side bus stop in Çukurbağ, hoping to make it to Kas. Not a single bus passed so we ended up hitching a ride to the next small town, Ağullu. We hopped out of the truck bed, purchased an absolutely necessary ice cream cone at a gas station, and intended to try our luck at hitchhiking the rest of the way to Kas. Luckily for us, there was no need! At that moment, ice cream cones in hand, a bus came flying down the road with a sign for Kas displayed on the windshield. We got on to the bus and arrived in Kas 20-minutes later.
Once in Kas Scott used his phone to find a camp ground. We walked to the campground, Kas Camping, only to find out it was full, ah! So we walked another 20 minutes to a different campsite, Kaş Evren Camping, and paid more than what seemed fair to camp on a wooden platform close to the road. Our legs were officially jello after our hike (and additional trek to campsites). As Scott struggled to set up our tent, which was larger than the wooden platform, a woman working at the campground walked up with two plates of food. Perhaps it was her way of saying sorry for ripping us off or a display of Turkish hospitality - who knows?
We were struck by the commotion and traffic noise of the city and missed the serenity of our last two “wild” camping spots. In stark contrast to the villages we’d grown accustomed over the past two days, Kas is a large city.
With little energy left, we crossed the street to the Mirgos Market, picked up a random assortment of food for dinner and ate back at the campground. We were both asleep by 9pm. Overall, it was a challenging day with little reward, with the exception of sighting Phellos. The scenery was lackluster and the hike was rather torturous in the heat.