About Sherry Ott
Sherry Ott is a refugee from corporate IT who is now a long term traveler, blogger, and photographer. She’s a co-founder of http://www.briefcasetobackpack.com, a website offering career break travel inspiration and advice. She posts over on https://plus.google.com/103115118174711820529/posts as well.
Additionally, she runs an around the world travel blog writing about her travel and expat adventures at http://www.ottsworld.com.com.
Latest Posts by Sherry Ott
Dieter, the shuttle driver at the Edmonton airport picked up my suitcase with a big grin – “So you are going to Jasper to ski. You’ll love it – we’ve had lots of snow.” He said proudly.
I hastily explained to Dieter that I’m not really a skier – but I was going to learn again after 12 years of swearing off skiing. “Oh – it’s a great place to learn. The drive from Edmonton to Jasper weeds out all of the day tourism.” He said as he got in the shuttle. He then promptly announced to the shuttle patrons (mainly full of locals), “The weather forecast looks good and the roads are fine. We should be in Jasper by 8:30pm.”
I quickly did the math – 4 ½ hours. Dieter was right – this drive did weed out the day tourism. I settled into my comfortable shuttle seat and opened up my Kindle. Sure – it was a long drive, but getting to places off the beaten path is never short or easy. That’s why I like them – you have to work to get to them sometimes. But when you do decided to get more local and go to the less touristic destinations, I know the rewards are great. My reward on this trip to Jasper and Marmot Basin would be learning how to ski again in a relaxed environment. For someone like myself who has a fear of skiing and learning around big crowds – this would be perfect. I was ready to hit the slopes!
I felt like the abominable snowman. Since I normally don’t ski, I had to borrow most of my equipment from friends. I had on pants that were too big, a large non-ski expedition jacket, and mittens that were too small – I was a mishmash of a skier and certainly wasn’t making a fashion statement. In fact one of the people at the ski rental addressed me as ‘sir’ – yes – that pretty much describes how good I looked. But looks didn’t matter to me – all that mattered to me was to try to get comfortable with skiing again.
Marmot Basin was celebrating 50 years of skiing, and I was celebrating the fact that I was strapping on skis for the first time again in 12 years. I stopped skiing in 2002 after never really getting comfortable with the sport and feeling as if it was more stress than enjoyment. I hate the fact that I don’t know how to ski since I seem to be an athletic, coordinated, adventurous person in everything else. But my fear of plummeting down a hill in an uncontrolled manner seemed to overshadow any coordination and athleticism I had – so I finally just gave up and focused on other winter outdoor sports such as snow shoeing or snow mobiling.
I clamped down the bootstrap clips making the boot close tightly around my calf and was reminded once again of how uncomfortable this sport was to me. I wondered if that old adage about riding a bike and never forgetting would come into play as soon as I clipped into the skis? Would my implicit memory kick in from 12 years ago and remember how to turn at a beginner level and get on and off a ski lift without falling on my face?
Jocylne, a music major turned ski instructor, was assigned to me as my teacher for the morning. I wondered if she knew that under these fluffy ill-matched clothes there was actually a very nervous person. I explained my sad, frustrating skiing history and she gave me an understanding smile that told me she had dealt with over-achieving, scared adults before.
I clipped into the skis and my implicit memory kicked in – it remembered how awkward and uncoordinated I felt in skis. After a few coasts down the little decline next to the ski school my implicit memory did actually remember a bit about turning and snow plowing. Jocylne was satisfied with my ability and urged me to move up – up to the real ski school lift and hill. I looked at it off in the distance, let out a big sigh and said, “Let’s do it.”
I was at Marmot Basin on a weekday – the perfect time to learn (or re-learn) how to ski. There were absolutely no lines at the lifts at all and practically no one on the ski school hill. It was as if I had the whole hill to myself – and that made me very happy. We went down 3 times as Jocylne gave me pointers and I started to get the groove of the snowplow again. However her most frequent piece of advice was relax, smile, have fun. Clearly I must have looked as stressed as I felt – I don’t hide my feelings well.
Bolstered by Jocylne’s confidence in me, we left the ski school hill and went up a bit higher on greens. One of the great things about Marmot Basin for beginners is that any lift you get on has a green trail option to get down – which put my mid at ease a bit. The other green hills were also not crowded, but there were definitely more people to distract me and worry about. However, I felt pretty good as I slowly traversed my way down the mountain trying to remember to occasionally smile in between my intense concentration. My confidence was building which kicked in my overachiever gene as I started to ask Jocylne questions on how I could move from snowplow to parallel turns. Yes, I told you I was an over achiever.
She convinced me to go up the highest lift to get the best view and since there was a green she had complete confidence in my ability to traverse down. I was feeling good, really good. I could feel my confidence soaring with her instruction and the nice wide-open runs. She was right – the views were spectacular – you could see the little town of Jasper and Pyramid Lake where we were staying.
But then something happened. It washed over me like a huge tidal wave as I looked down the slope – ridiculous, irrational fear. We were on a green traverse that took us across the mountain at an angle in order to get over to the green hill. I tried to move across the traverse, but I had forgotten how to move my legs and turn; I was practically paralyzed. Vertigo kicked in for me and I couldn’t do a thing. Jocylne looked as if someone had pulled the rug out from underneath here as she was also trying to make sense of this sudden change in my ability. For some reason, traversing the mountain sideways completely shook me to my core and all I could imagine was tumbling down the mountain out of control.
Jocylne earned her instructor badge at that moment as she slowly coaxed me through the painful process of the traverse and to the green slope. Once we made it there, it still took me time to figure out how to even get down the green slope again, probably because I was still mentally beating myself up about my traverse freak out. But eventually after much advice from Jocylne to just relax, I got my beginner green slope mojo back and we made it to the bottom of the long run. Yet I must admit, there was very little smiling involved.
After a rest and lunch at the lodge, I gathered up my stuff and decided to go out on my own again for the afternoon. I wasn’t going to let the setback stop me. However I did decide to take advantage of the empty lower ski school slopes and really work on getting comfortable with turning and simply having fun – smiling. I never did go to the top again, but I did stay on the skis all day and work on my technique on my own. I never really perfected my parallel turns, but thanks to the non-crowded slopes and lots of practice, by the end of the day I had a real victory – I finally learned how to smile on my way down.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Tourism Jasper for this trip. However all of the opinions expressed here are my own. I had been wanting to see the Canadian Rockies in the winter for a long time and getting to the lesser known town of Jasper is the perfect destination for my style of travel.
Just when I was about to give up – I saw the coyote along the side of the snow-covered road. It turned and looked at us. Assessing our big vehicle determining friend or foe? Friend was the answer as it turned away and didn’t seem to care in the least that a big white van filled with people and cameras was slowly moving towards it. Our guide had told us to watch carefully for a sighting, but my eyes weren’t as trained as his when it came to spotting big horn sheep, elk, and coyotes. We slowly followed the coyote at a distance – it seemed to be leading us as it kept turning to look over it’s shoulder. Leading us to where?
I knew in Jasper National Park wildlife was abundant in the winter, it’s actually known for it’s wildlife photography workshops that run there in the summer and the winter. Yet I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get any super professional shots, at least I was hopping to spot a few animals.
I was picked at the Pyramid Lake Resort - and explained of course there was no guarantee we would find wildlife to photograph, but we would spend time searching for various wildlife while also getting a great overview of the park in the winter. Since I didn’t have a car, and neither did the other guests on the tour (they had arrived by train), this was the perfect way to see and photograph more of the park’s spectacular scenery.
The little town of Jasper is located in a National Park which comes with good and bad. They have amazing support from the park and great sustainability programs, but there are also a lot of restrictions that go with that sustainability. They can’t offer some of the activities other places can (dogsledding and snow mobiling) due to the restrictions. However on the plus side, you get incredible insight into nature and conservation – a real natural experience where people and wildlife intermix and share the land. The area the town occupies is the largest inhabitable valley in the Canadian Rockies, which means more food for “All Creatures Great and Small!” and that means more wildlife to see!
As we drove around the park via back roads our guide explained the unique geology around the area. I was surprised when among the snowy mountain peaks we came across a floodplain and sand dunes. We made numerous stops and were able to take pictures as the sun brightly lit up the mountain peaks. As we drove along the highway our guide’s eagle eyes spotted Big Horn Sheep grazing among the rocks and various bird sightings I never would have noticed on my own.
However it was the coyote who led us to our best find – a herd of elk grazing among the snowy trees. We all got out of the van and walked around in the deep snow covered fields for a closer look. It was picture perfect with tree branches bending from the weight of the snow and a herd of elk quietly grazing around it. The silence enveloped me – it was a beautiful sight to simply watch the animals in their environment.
Suddenly a brown blur caught my eye so I spun around to see the coyote, that led us to the herd of elk, dart off into the woods. His guiding job was done and it was time for him to get back to his own winter wonderland.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Tourism Jasper for this trip. However all of the opinions expressed here are my own. I had been wanting to see the Canadian Rockies in the winter for a long time and getting to the lesser known town of Jasper is the perfect destination for my style of travel.
Kamilik Burun to Myra
It didn’t take me long to fall behind. The heat was horrible after lunch and so was my attitude. We had quite a climb ahead of us and debated trying to short cut it to get the pain over with quicker – but decided to stay on the marked trail instead and take the longer switchbacks. It ended up being a good idea to stay on the trail as even though the other route was more direct – I’m certain we would have been lost. The heat made it hard enough – we certainly didn’t need to get lost on top of it.
The longer trail went along the coast on a little cliff and then turned back and started to climb up the hill via switchbacks. The more I climbed the more I spiraled out of control into a vortex of anger, disappointment, and self-loathing. I could barely keep Warren, Betsy, and Andreas in my sight. I’m not exactly sure what caused my horrible disposition that day, but I do know that I wasn’t embracing the hike or every step – I was hating it – and my pack.
My mind was preoccupied with the thought of how I would get over the mountain at 3000 ft with this horrible heavy pack – and this bad attitude? With every laboring step, I did a mental inventory of my pack trying to figure out what I could get rid of and I came up with nothing.
Somehow I made it through the day – but I wasn’t too joyful to be around. The four of us made it to a campground which Captain Osman told us about when we left the boat. He said it had a wonderful view of Demre from above and he was absolutely correct. We walked into Santa’s Summer House – a campground and cabins situated above Demre. Since we were camping, I referred to it as Santa’s Summer Lawn. It had a spectacular view of Demre below – a town that was 80% greenhouses – and hence we had a spectacular view of greenhouses.
This part of Turkey is a breadbasket for all of the Middle East and Europe. It’s one and only focus is agriculture. Producing crops of tomatos, zuchinni, oranges, pomegranates, and apples year around. It seemed as if every family owned a greenhouse.
An old man came out to greet us as we walked into the campground. He spoke no English but soon he was on his cell phone handing it over to us to speak to someone on the other end who could speak English. I think he had been through this ‘dance’ before with Lycian Way hikers.
We learned he was the caretaker and the owner was on her way over to talk to us and get us settled in. As we hung up the phone the caretaker had already went inside and came back out with a juicy pomegranate cut in quarters – the dark red juice running down his hands as he handed them over with a big welcome smile. (top photo)
The owner came and helped us get all settled in – and allowed us to camp there for free. She even opened up one of the cabins to let us use the bathroom during out time there. We ate our cold dinner of tomatoes, bread, cheese, and some sausage. The caretaker invited us to his porch and continued to feed us bottomless cups of tea and fresh fruit. He spoke no English, and he smoked like a chimney – but he seemed overjoyed to have visitors. We patched together a conversation with Google Translate on my phone and was able to find out all the basics – family, kids, age, marital status – the normal stuff.
I woke up with a nagging thought about the pending mountain pass – I didn’t really want to do the mountain – but pride was pulling at me. I decided I would put it aside and consider it during our hike down to Demre today. After all, maybe the easier descent would give me a better attitude. We only had a short 2 hours before we were to reach Demre (all downhill).
We started off towards Myra and I felt good. A woman motioned to us that we were going the wrong way as we walked past her little home that looked more like a shack than a home. The 4 of us thanked her and turned around to try to go find the last mark we had see and figure out where we went wrong (a common problem on this trail).
We pretty quickly found the turn marking we missed. But we all stood there and stared at the way it directed us to go – we were baffled. There was no real apparent path, instead there was over-grown brush filled with thorns greeting us and my bare skin. Shit. This wasn’t going to be a fun, ‘easy’ descent at all.
I had of course worn the same stinky dirty shorts and sleeveless shirt I had been hiking in every day – not a good choice for this thorn-infested trail. Warren led the way through the thick thorny brush looking for marks. I tried my best to minimize the pain but the scratching and irritation on my legs were like a burning rash after 20 minutes of hiking in this mess. After about 30 minutes there was finally a clearing that I could put down my pack and find the legs I could zip onto my hiking shorts and get some protection for my irritated legs.
The Myra ruins were high on a hill and were crumbling (like all of the ruins on the Lycian Way). There was no one around as no one really hikes up to the buildings from Demre. And apparently only fools like us hike down from the top on that horrible trail! After taking a few photos we started the descent of hairpin turns down the cliff into the agriculture town of Demre.
Demre was not only the home of the thorny ruins of Myra and tombs built high up into cliffsides (seriously how did they do that – could they levitate?), it was also home to Baba Noel (father Christmas).
We stayed in the one and only pension in town and the owner happened to love the Lycian Way and catered to hikers. He was a breath of fresh air as his English was pretty good, and this was the first time we had found someone who was building a business around the Lycian Way. He was a wealth of information about the mountain pass and the trail. We had a great night learning more about him, the trail, and the history of the area as we ate a feast his wife cooked up and drank beer.
As I sat in the pension that afternoon sipping tea and nursing my cut up legs – the nagging issue of the mountain engulfed my thoughts again. It was time I made a hard decision. I wasn’t going to go over the mountain – I was going to take plan B instead.
Despite what you may think, I am not a hard-core adventure traveler. I don’t actually enjoy really roughing it, but I endure it because I love to hike and I like getting closer to a culture by camping.
However, I normally do hiking that is more supported – and this was my first independent hike where I was carrying all of my own camping gear and navigating ourselves.
I had thought long and hard about it and came to the conclusion that I didn’t really need to put myself through a mountain pass if I wasn’t enjoying it. Life is too short and things you choose to do shouldn’t be so painful. I do like a challenge for sure – but when a challenge becomes something you absolutely dread – then it’s not fun.
My plan B was to let Warren, Betsy, and Andreas do the mountain pass for 2 days while I met them on the other side in the town of Finike. But instead of sitting around – I planned to do some hiking by myself around the area– just to continue to get my hiking legs under me and build up some strength.
I finally felt a weight lift off of my shoulders. My mind had been navigating these thorns in my head for the last 2 days. By making the decision to simply skip the mountain pass and do other hiking it was as if I zipped on my pant legs all over again and the nagging thorns disappeared.
I just escaped the cold winter in the mainland US and landed in Hawaii – my new home for a month. Life if good. I got settled into my teaching position at Iolani School and still found a little time to explore and enjoy Waikiki where I’m staying for 2 weeks. Not only do I get to watch incredible sunsets from my balcony, but I also had a super duper foodie treat this week - truffles from Chef Mavro. Not a bad start to my summer in the winter!
Winter in Hawaii – lush! Started my morning with this view from the Pali Highway.
My home for 2 weeks. Suite overlooking Waikiki – incredible. I could get used to this!
One of these is not like the other.
Decadent truffles shaved at the table over an egg also ‘infused’ with truffle. And don’t forget the Serrano ham ribbons. I refer to this as #foodie heaven. 6 courses & perfect wine pairings w @chefmavro in Honolulu
I stared out at all of the boats and yachts on the vivid sapphire blue water and wondered – what the hell am I doing here on the rocky ground, when I could be gently swaying on a boat? The Turkish Mediterranean coast is some of the most lovely in the world. Most people who come to this area come for the Mediterranean – not only the body of water, but the lifestyle. They spend lazy days on a boat island hopping, eating fresh seafood and mezes, soaking up sea breezes, afternoon swims, and colorful sunsets.
Yet I’m here to hike, exert myself, sweat, eat tuna from a can, and tend to my blisters along the Lycian Way. Even though that sounds uncomfortable, I love hiking, so I’m happy to be seeing this rugged coastline by foot. However, I do wonder – is it possible to have it all – land and sea? Can you hike the Lycian Way by boat?
Yes! Walking on Water
When my friend and boat captain, Osman, first brought up the idea of following us from Kas to Demre in his boat, the Selin-3 , I was a bit skeptical it would all work. But as Betsy, Warren, and I shared a beer with him and looked at the map the ideas started to become a reality – a plan was hatched. We would do a 4 day cruise on the Selin-3, but instead of us being on the boat as it moved from place to place – we would hike from village to village and he would pick us up.
The Selin-3 would serve as our moving ‘campsite’ in a way – we would stay on it overnight, eat dinner and breakfast, and Osman would pack us a lunch and water for our hike that day. As a local who grew up in the area, Osman knew every inch of the coastline and how it intertwined with the Lycian Way trail making our rendezvous easy. Plus, since we were coming back to the same boat in a new place, it meant we only had to hike with what we needed for the day and could leave our heavy packs behind on the boat.
Using a boat to hike this portion of the Lycian Way (from Kas to Demre) is a perfect way to experience
the Lycian Way AND the Mediterranean.
Enjoying the view while stopping for a water break along the Lycian Way
Kaş to Üzüm Iskelesi Beach
As the sun came up over Kas we left a few things on the boat in the harbor and I started to take my first steps on the Lycian Way (Likya Yolu in Turkish). Even though I could have left practically my entire backpack on the boat and just taken a little day pack of things I needed, I opted to remove about 10 pounds from my pack and leave it on the boat, but still carry the majority since I needed to get used to hiking with a backpack again. Within the first hour I could already tell my shoulders and back were not happy about this new weight it was taking on. I knew my body would eventually adjust – unfortunately it would be a painful process.
The hiking was mostly along the rocky coast with gorgeous views of the coastline ahead of us. There was one section which had me holding my breath – we had accidently got on the lower trail which was much more treacherous than the high trail according to our book. It left us scrambling very slowly across jagged boulders with steep drops into the sea. One wrong step and you could do some serious damage. The rocks looked like porous sponges, but they were definitely not soft!
We stopped for a rest in Ufak-dere, a picturesque little cove, where we ran into a local man who invited us for cokes and bread. It was a perfect little lunch spot – especially since the owner had a obsession with 80’s music. I found myself singing along to “Ice, Ice Baby” as I gave my feet a rest.
After about 6 hours of hiking, we rounded a corner and there in the distance on the water we could see the anchored Selin-3 – a welcome site that made my heart soar in delight! As if we were hiking royalty, Osman picked us up in a little raft and whisked us off to the boat where we promptly dropped our packs, put on our swimming suits and took a dip in the Mediterranean! It was super to be back on the Selin-3 – it was like an old friend to me – and so was Osman. He fed us a Turkish feast and I promptly fell asleep under the stars.
Bay of Ufak-dere – a great place for lunch and some Vanilla Ice.
Üzüm Iskelesi Beach to the Ruins of Aperlae
We saw the sun rise from the Mediterranean as Osman was shuttling us back to shore for our next 5.5 hour hiking day. I’m not a morning person, even when I am in an idyllic setting like this, so I was a bit slow to get my body and brain moving in my groggy, sleepy, jetlag haze. Yet this is another thing I knew would improve the more days I was on the trail and used to the hiking routine. Luckily all I had to do was follow Warren and Betsy. I was getting a bit better at finding the markings for the trail – however I mainly relied on the veteran trained eyes of Warren. We did get lost once as we climbed up towards the ruins of Apollonia, and we each fanned out looking for a marker with no luck. I finally got my phone and took a look at the GPS to try to get us back on track.
We hiked past many ruins, old tombs and crumbling walls as we descended back down to the coast where once again Osman was there to meet us. The views of the ruins from the boat were even better – then again maybe the cold beer also was a factor in making them better. There were sarcophagi right out on the beach, a stunning, yet strange, site to see on a beach. You can sunbath with the dead. In addition to the random sarcophagus along the beach and in the water – you could also find turtles and wild bores here too!
That night we ate like royalty as Osman grilled us chicken and made us various meze salads from his mother’s recipes. His cooking was just as I had remembered it from last year when I was on his boat – delicious and plentiful. Just what hungry hikers need.
Osman bringing us back to the trail to begin our day
Betsy hiking past a sarcophagus. You’ll see plenty of these along the trail.
Spotting the boat is always a good feeling after a 6 hr hike!
Sunset from the boat
Ruins of Aperlae to Kamilik Burun
We picked up a new hiking friend along the trail, Andreas, who was German, Italian, and spoke fluent Spanish. There was a lot of Spanish being spoken between Warren, Betsy, and Andreas which meant I had a lot of time to simply listen to the foreign chatter and think. However it’s actually hard to really think and meditate on this trail for me as it’s so treacherous you really have to concentrate on every step. I still didn’t have my hiking legs underneath me.
The water was completely still as we hiked into Ucagiz. My hips hurt as we walked the rocky coastline but I enjoyed the winding, narrow trail and scenery. I carried a heavier pack again today in an effort to continue to get used to the hiking as we only had one more day on the boat before I had to take the training wheels off. Ucagiz was perfect for a rest and a cold drink. Once again sarcophagi were strangely found scattered in all areas of the town next to garbage bins and in parking lots. This mixture of ancient relics and modern day village intertwined sort of felt like a Sci Fi movie set.
We hiked to Simena, a town I had actually been to before. The approach into Simena was gorgeous. Up a steep hill through ruins and beautiful views of this Cliffside town as well as a great view of our boat and captain waiting for us for lunch! As we ate lunch and drank beer on the boat, Osman steered us towards the Sunken City or Kekova. Now an island, Kekova was once joined to the mainland but it suffered a series of earthquakes and these geological influences rendered it a city six meters below the sea. So not only were we hiking through ruins on the Lycian Way, we were also floating above them on the Selin-3.
After lunch we did a short hour walk to digest our food and get a little further on the trail so we had a better starting point for the next day. The best part is we walked this last hour without our packs. For the first time I was able to keep up with Warren and have a conversation with him while hiking, which in turn boosted my confidence a bit. That night we had a fish fry on the boat for our last dinner on the Mediterranean. We invited Andreas to join us on our big boat and he provided the dessert – a chocolate bar from Columbia with crushed coffee beans on top! The fastest way to my heart – chocolate, coffee, and gin. Two out of three aint bad.
Flat, mirror-like water greeted us on our hike today.
Taking a lunch break from hiking and seeing the Sunken City
Osman – serving us delicious meals to keep our hiking energy high!
The next morning was painful for me – it was painful because we were leaving the sea and our perfect little floating ‘campground’. We were heading towards Demre and would be bidding Osman and the Selin-3 goodbye. One of the things I love most about traveling for as long as I have been is when I get to come back to a place and renew old friendships – and this is exactly what the last 3 days was for me. Sure, I had been in this area of Turkey before, but this time I felt so much more connected to it thanks to having to hoof it on my own two feet. Seeing Osman again and how his business had grown was also a perk – plus any time I get the chance to eat Osman’s cooking is a delight.
After a delicious breakfast and coffee, Osman pulled the boat right up to the trail and we walked off the plank onto the Lycian Way again. I tightened my backpack straps and watched the boat pull away as the sun rose and the long shadows disappeared. This quite possibly was the best way to experience the Lycian Coast by sea and by land.
Thailand Military dressed in crisp white uniforms.
The stern faces, crisp uniforms, shiny buttons, and daunting weapons – guarding the world is serious business. They are a perfect model for a photo shoot – no cheesy grins – just a stone cold stare. A collection some of the most interesting military and guard photos from various parts of the globe.
Guarding the royalty in Stockholm
Beijing next to Tienanmen Square
Tomb of General Artigas, father of Uruguay’s independence movement in Montevideo
Athens Military get relief in the shade
Royal Guard in Copenhagen
The Swiss Guard keep strict watch over the Vatican
Military still guards the bombed out Holiday Inn in Beirut.
A guard watches over the entrance to Valetta, Malta
Vietnamese military guard Ho Chi Minh’s home.
The Mediterranean city of Antalya, Turkey – the beginning and the ending of the Lycian Way
I woke up doubting everything. How am I going to carry a 30 pound pack over the course of 2 weeks climbing up and down hills – and a mountain pass of 3000 ft? I can’t do this. It will be impossible.
But I got up, brushed my teeth, and went anyway.
I arrived in Antalya Turkey the night before, after a long flight from NYC. There was no rest for the weary and jet-lagged – as I had to now get myself from Antalya to Kaş, meet Warren and Betsy, get some supplies, and start hiking the next day. Of course when I originally planned this aggressive schedule it all seemed great and doable – yet I don’t know if had really thought through the fact I would be jet-lagged and hiking with 30 pounds on my back. Often I just get excited about arriving somewhere and don’t really think about the toll it will take on my body and mind. And the doubt I felt this morning in Antalya was just the beginning of the toll it would take on my mind.
Antalya – A Beginning and End
To hike the Lycian Way – you need a beginning and an ending. The large and well connected town of Antalya normally gets that distinction. It’s easy to fly into Antalya and then catch a bus or dolmuş to get to any town along the Antalya coast which stretches about 600 km. The official start of the Lycian Way is in Fethiye; this is where Warren and Betsy had started from 2 weeks before, but now they were waiting for me in Kaş. So I had to find a dolmuş to Kaş. A dolmuş (pronounced “dole-moosh”) is a cross between a public bus and private taxi. Like a bus, it travels a regular route (posted on a sign in the front window) with no formal stops or timetables – and the fees are set. You can easily catch a dolmuş at the Antalya bus station. No pre-ticket necessary – just show up and tell someone where you want to go – they’ll get you on the right dolmuş.
Colorful laundry hanging in Antalya
Antalya is also the main ending point of the Lycian Way. It’s not the actual end of the trail – but it’s where you come when you are finished with the trail as it’s a short dolmuş ride from the trail end to the city center. Since Antalya serves as both the beginning and ending for many hikers – it’s also a good place to store extra things that you don’t need on the trail. And trust me – the more you can dump here and leave behind the happier you’ll be. Let me just state this one more time – the more you can dump here and leave behind the happier you’ll be. Yes, it’s that important.
I woke up doubtful, but I had no time to wallow in doubt. I had to keep moving forward so I began to repack my backpack so I could drop off a bag (items I didn’t want to carry on the trail) at my ending hotel. Then I needed to make my way to the Antalya bus station and ride a dolmuş for 4 hours to meet Warren and Betsy.
Turkish coffee – A great cure for jet lag!
Lycian Way Gear Advice
• Pack light
• See Warren and Betsy’s comprehensive list of gear
• Pack light
Get That Backpack Organized!
Actually I don’t really like living out of a backpack, but recently Eagle Creek sent me some Pack-It cubes and stuff bags to try out for my travels – and those products changed the whole way I thought about my backpack. Instead of just shoving all of the stuff in a pack, I could now organize my gear with packing cubes, which basically turned my backpack from a ‘laundry basket pile’ into a dresser. Having the cubes to organize my pack was like being able to open up my sock drawer or t-shirt drawer back when I actually owned furniture! This was essential for a trip like this because I had to often unpack my whole pack to get to my tent and my sleeping bag or other essential camping gear I was carrying with me. Being able to simply take out a few cubes or stuff sacks made the process simple and not make me want to kill myself like usual when I hike with a backpack.
You can see here that my backpack contents were all contained in a few sacks and cubes. This was everything I took with me on the hike (about 20 lbs), plus I had the added weight of food and water which added about 10 lbs.
My Lycian Way backpack contents – all nicely organized!
Some of the specifics you see here that I loved:
Apex One (wo)Man Tent – easy to set up and super light for this type of hiking
Thermarest Sleeping Mat
KEEN sandals– I only took my hiking boots and these sandals. They were perfect for cooling off and having something easy and comfortable to slip into at the end of the day when I was ready to divorce my hiking boots.
Smartwool socks (they never get stinky!)
Sun Hat (very important!)
Mini First Aid Kit
Ipod (strangely I only used this once)
Smart phone with GPS (this was my only camera)
Telecom Square Mifi device – essential for getting an Internet signal and being able to use my smart phone for research and GPS coordinates.
Used OsmAnd as my offline map solution on my phone – it worked pretty well and was free!
Solo No More
Sunset in Kas
I arrived in Kas just in time for catching a beautiful sunset at our pension. I fought off jet-lag with a shower, and met Warren and Betsy – a joyous meeting a couple years in coming! It’s always great to meet your digital friends in the flesh and give them a proper hug. Over beer and dinner they gave me the low down on how their hike had been so far – full of excitement and ups and downs. And they shared with me their best advice about what to expect for the next two weeks and helped me get supplies at the grocery store. My supplies consisted of spreadable cheese, bread, raisins, nuts, tomatoes, sausage, olives, and Snickers bars. More weight in the pack to worry about – but food is a necessity!
As I listened to them excitedly talk about their hiking experience so far, the nagging doubts in the back of my mind returned. I wondered how I would make it and how much I would slow them down since they seemed to be in stride now that they were halfway done with the trail.
Regardless of my fears and doubts – when the alarm went off in Kas then next morning at 5:45AM – I had to get up, brush my teeth and go.
Ever heard of Jasper? No, it’s not a friendly ghost. It’s a location. Could you place it on a map?
Jasper is located in the Canadian Rockies in the province of Alberta. Ok – I must confess – like most Americans I used to be horrible at my Canada geography. I had no idea what the provinces were or where they were located – but notice I used the phrase “used to be”. That’s right – Canada is no longer just that country north of the US any longer – 2013 marked my year to finally get to know Canada beyond my little knowledge of beer and Whistler ski area. I went to Toronto (Ontario), Vancouver (British Columbia), Halifax (Nova Scotia), and Golden (British Columbia).
Jasper is my first stop on my 2014 travels and it’s going to be an adventurous kick in the ass to the new year! Actually – it will most likely have me falling on my ass a lot. Jasper in January means snow – and lots of it. This means skating, sledding, snow shoeing, and skiing at Marmot Basin. I do none of these things well – which is why much of the time I may be on my ass, but the cool part is that I love all of them – despite my inability. It’s ok to like things you suck at – as long as you can laugh at yourself. It’s humbling – BUT it gives you more of a reason to go drink beer afterwards to laugh at all of your flubs and sore ass.
Why should you care about Jasper in Alberta?
Because it’s a unique place to go experience winter that is authentic, local, international, and adventurous. And that my friends is what I’m all about. Oh – and there’s beer and poutine – I’m also about that stuff! In addition, much like Golden BC, Japser lives in the shadow of the well known Bannf to the south. And that’s exactly why I want to go there. I did Golden in the summer and excited to do Jasper in the winter.
What is Jasper in January?
Jasper in January Festival – 25 year anniversary
It’s a celebration of all things winter. And this year it happens to be the 25th Anniversary of Jasper in January – so they have some special things planned. I’m heading there on the weekend of January 17th with my good friend and past travel partner Lisa Lubin – her presence there will make this already fun weekend even better! After all, I said I was going to make an effort to see more friends and stay in better touch in 2014, so this is a great way to start.
Here’s a few of the things I’m hoping to do while in Jasper in January festival:
Star gazing and night photography in the Dark Sky Preserve
Skiing (I’m a novice and haven’t been on skis for 12 years!)
Attend a drag queen show (yes – you read that right)
Plus – there are even rumored to be a few things you get to decide for me on a Jasper’s Facebook Page by voting. Letting others choose my itinerary has me slightly nervous – so let me just give you some help – if one of the options is to go on a sleigh ride with Brad Pitt – choose that one please. Please.
For the occasion I bought myself a little Christmas gift, a GoPro camera. I figured if I was going to try skiing again– I better get some decent footage of me falling on my ass. After all, you can only watch those beautiful helicopter dare devil skiing videos for so long; beginner videos – that’s where it’s at.
Jasper in January kicks off my 2014 travels and from there it just gets better and better. Trust me, I’m really excited about my 2014 plans so far – Jasper, Oahu, Kauai, India in a Rickshaw, Australia, Tasmania, and the next Niece Project (destination TBD). There’s no shortage of challenge and adventure in my future – and there will be no shortage of me falling on my ass either.
Disclosure: I will be a guest of Tourism Jasper for this trip. However all of the opinions expressed here are my own. I had been wanting to see the Canadian Rockies in the winter for a long time and getting to the lesser known town of Jasper is the perfect destination for my style of travel.