We woke up to a magnificent azure sky. Suddenly we could see where we actually were. The view of the mountain, Mezovit, was unbelievable. In the end we found the higher lake, Büyük Deniz.

It was time to move on, however, as a good walk was waiting for us – about 1500 altitudinal metres down, through Yukari Kavron, almost as far as Ayder, from there across another valley, climbing about 1000m again to the final village, our journey would lead in the direction of the Kirmizi Pass. And so we passed from one side of Kackar to the other, from the northern region of Kavron, to the southern region of Altiparmak. At the time of setting out we didn’t expect such a journey however, or at least I didn’t, so at nine o’clock we happily set out with all our provisions.

On the trip from Yukari Kavron we met with an awful lot of tourist expeditions, it wasn’t unexpected, the weather was absolutely fantastic. For the first time that day, close to Yukari Kavron we could appreciate the gorgeous valley spreading to lake Derebasi, where we had started our trek four days earlier.

At eleven o’clock we sat at a table in Yukari Kavron in front of our previously visited refreshments stand and drank the well known beer Efes. Jack ordered steaks. The waitress obviously didn’t understand, so after forty minutes and another beer we gave up on waiting and got out our own provisions. In the midday sun we started to climb along an unpaved road in the direction of Ayder. It was really hot, but fortunately we soon came to a forested area. Along the way the number of picnicking Turkish families began to increase and we really began to dream about steaks. At close to two o’clock we could stand it no longer and in the recreation area above Ayder we came across a restaurant near the path and ordered some meat “from cow” – so with beef. The results of our order in English were quite dramatic but astonishing, maybe the best food we had during our trip. We received a pan with a very tasty mix of grilled meat and vegetables along with a hot plate on the table. There was also salad, a side dish and tea.

After the food there was an interesting event. Probably everyone knows that in Muslim Turkey there are somewhat different cultural traditions than those of continental Europe, particularly in the conduct between men and women. A young Turkish couple were sitting next to us in the restaurant, clearly tourists from Istanbul or some larger city, because the girl wasn’t wearing a hijab, which wasn’t common in the countryside. The young man left the table and the girl, emboldened, asked us what language we were speaking, where we were from and so on. We spoke for a moment. Then her partner returned and our conversation abruptly stopped. The young man commenced on a very loud and suggestive monologue directed at the girl, during which they got up and quickly left. Even though we couldn’t understand Turkish, we were sure what it was about…

After enjoying our second lunch, at 3 o’clock we set off again and went almost as far as the small town of Ayder. Close by the town, we turned onto an alternative path to a valley leading to the hamlet of Avusor. It kept to the same sort unpaved road, that we had kept to approximately 30 to 50m above the mountain valley ridges and created unbelievable serpentines. We continued five hours, it was still hot, even though with time and height the fog increased. We passed two or three villages or hamlets, before we got to the last one, Avusor (2400 metres above sea level), where the road ended. It was almost a little town, certainly there were shops and cafes. When we got there it was already almost dark though, and we had to find a place for our tent. We went a little further than the village therefore and at eight o’clock we set up camp, with a lot of help from our head torches. It occurred to me that Tom assured me that we would not be walking later than five in the afternoon: “Today we stretched it a bit, eh?,”

We set of at about a quarter past nine in the direction of the pass Kirmizi Gedik (Red Glen) at a height of 3125m. At first we went along a gently ascending meadow, then the gradient slightly increased as we came to an interpass, from which the real pass was hidden, as was usual in the mountains. There was still a small upper plateau with a river channel from the stream, a small green sweeping hill with rhododendron bushes instead of scrub and then a truly abrupt ascent up to some arduous rocks with a zig-zag path above. We met with a pleasant group on a tourist expedition there. The others naturally overtook them, but I was a gentleman and waited, slowly walking behind them. In the pass we discovered that there were four girls from Israel with two Turkish guides. On the Northern side lay a narrow strip of indissoluble snow and the girls didn’t hesitate to madly slide on it and make snowballs. It was interesting that the Turkish guides did not speak English and the girls didn’t speak Turkish. Unfortunately the boys successfully sabotaged the possibility of getting to know each other better by hurrying on.

Whenever someone asked us where we were from and we answered “From the Czech Republic”, the enquirer rarely understood and a lot of people mistakenly thought we were from Chile. So we told people that we were from “Czechoslovakia” and everyone understood immediately, even though Czechoslovakia ceased to exist about 20 years ago and a lot of foreign enquirers couldn’t possibly remember it. Many people think that the word “Czechoslovakia” brings nostalgic memories, because it was a good “brand”. I think that the explanation is more modest. A country with such an unusual name as “Czechoslovakia” is hard to confuse with anywhere else.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a very accurate map for that region and what was a worse, not even an exact description of the trek downloaded from various corners of the internet. After taking lunch in the pass, at one o’clock we continued the ascent to Lake Libler. We arrived after an hour or so. Even though there were stone markings, I think that the main path didn’t follow the lake exactly, but went slightly more southerly along the hillside. We continued to follow the valley along the mountain stream. The mountain meadows with rhododendrons gradually began to shift into an area of forest and on the left we caught sight of a large pastoral settlement. It could have been the village of Pisenkaya, but the settlement was totally empty and it didn’t appear as though the path continued from here. Quite the opposite – the regular path was on the other side of the river and after a while it even became negotiable. So we naturally missed a short cut heading to the south in the direction of lake Karagöl (even though here the river was already so wide that we had to wade through it) and further on we climbed down the valley along the river and lost some valuable altitudinal metres. We came to a crossroads, from which we followed the path on the left slope in the direction of the small town of

It was here that something very unusual happened to us. We met two huge dogs (the first that we had seen in Turkey). It was their huge, nail embedded, collars which were particularly frightening. Fortunately their owners also appeared after a moment, Turk obviously, who had a cottage nearby. It didn’t seem to me that he had the dogs under complete control, but thankfully the dogs were a little afraid of us.

As we went on, to our disappointment, the path continued roughly on the same level and occasionally even descended rather than ascended. We constantly searched for a path, or a possibility, which would take us to the mountain ridges on our left, but we couldn’t find anything. At seven o’clock we were already in the village, or little town, of Binektasi. It was gradually beginning to get dark and we still hadn’t seen any suitable camping area. In the end, at the next hamlet, where the main path separated from the upper sea-shaped route, we found a small plateau encircling the adjacent path with a rather insubstantial stream – after all, that area was rather dry, even though it was still very green.

And so it was already eight o’clock in the evening when we set up camp, again using torches. That day I decided not to mention anything about our comfortable treks until five in the afternoon. The altimeter showed only 2000 metres above sea level…

We left at half past eight on a winding path above the camp, but after a short while the path ended at a small empty hamlet, so we continued through the forest, steeply up to the mountain ridges. After a while we lost Jack and so Thomas and I had to decide what to do next, because a perpendicular stone wall appeared in front of us. In the end we decided to go to the west, and we came to an ascending valley with a meadow. We had already seen this little valley from our camp, and from here it was possible to get to a lower pass on the ridges. At first I mulled over whether this would work, but then we decided that this was the best path, even though it disappeared after a moment.

Thomas and I discovered a beck which connected to a water canal – a sort of artificial horizontal stream – and we immediately filled our empty water bottles and Thomas even washed.
rhododendron

We continued up through the terrible heat and the meadow began to be unbelievably arduous. We had to take regular breaks, but with such a huge bias it wasn’t easy to take off a twenty kilo bag and safely deposit it where it wouldn’t roll down, not to mention putting it back on again.

Eventually just before midday we arrived at the pass (2600m) and luckily met up with our lost companion, Jack, who came along the mountain ridges from the South west. We had lunch.

On the southern side we could make out a second valley which led from the little town of Barhal to our destination for that day – Lake Karagöl (the Black Lake) under the mountain of Karatas (Black Stone).

On the hillside below us was an unmistakeable path, but in contrast to the grassy southern slope, the northern slope was quite stony with a rhododendron underbrush. We tried various paths until Thomas showed us the best route, i.e. to continue from the pass, along the mountain ridges in a westerly direction to the plateau on the other little pass, where there was a crossroad of footpaths. The footpath along the mountain ridges crossed the footpath which we had originally wanted to take on Wednesday from Pisenkaya to Karagöl, but we never found. This path then slightly sloped down the mountainside to the previously mentioned trail from Barhal to the lake. The path was more or less level and we arrived at Lake Karagöl (2700m) comfortably at quarter past one, or more precisely the lowest of several lakes in the area.

Near the lake there were noticeable traces of previous settlements, the remains of stone walls from around three buildings, embedded quite unusually under the ground. Again we met no one. We put up our tent, hid our bags and at two o’clock we set off without luggage on a sidetrek; Jack (the highlander) to the hill Karatas (3377m), Tom and I to the upper lake. The journey was, on the whole, an easy one, along the stream and following the tourist markings. About halfway we got lost, so we had to follow our noses. After about two or three hundred altitudinal metres we eventually got to the upper lake. The pass between Karatas and another of the Altiparmak fingers, (in Turkish Altiparmak means “six fingers” – six hills), is about another hundred metres up. After a moment another lake appeared, practically next to the first and then another mini-lake, with one place for a tent, just as Thomas had read in one description.

After having a good look around, we returned to the tent at half past five. We were hungry and Jack wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Not that we couldn’t have eaten without him, but Jack was the owner of the petrol stove and we didn’t know how to set it up. We couldn’t wait and we tried to put it together without the help of its owner. At half past six, before an explosion could take place, Jack appeared, with horror in his eyes. He had returned just before ignition, so he could put the stove together properly. After a while we tasted our last hand prepared dinner of the trek. That evening we watched a magnificent natural theatre on the eastern horizon, in which the clouds were backlit by lightning. We didn’t hear any thunder and so we hoped that the storm was far off, or the clouds would be at the same height as us.

That day was the last day of climbing upwards with our backpacks. From the following day we would be descending into civilisation…

Originally written for http://www.tichota.cz/kackar