Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saklikent

OK, the ankle burn turned out to be a bit more serious than I first thought. After two days, it was more painful than you can imagine. Since the beach was out of the question, I decided to go to Saklikent Gorge. Several tens of thousands of years ago, there was this big earthquake. A mountain split open. That split in the mountain eventually became Saklikent Gorge. In a perfect world, Saklikent is 30 miles and 45 minutes from Patara, but this world is hardly perfect. On the advice of my hotel owner, I took this baroque route that left me semi-stranded by the side of the road for long stretches of time. This trip that should have taken 45 minutes ended up being over three hours. It involved a bus, a minibus and many dolmuşes. (For those unacquainted, a dolmuş is a community bus, usually with questionable suspension and exhaust leaks, that is just a bit larger than a minivan. They'll stop just about anywhere you tell them as long as it's on their route.) Once I arrived at Saklikent, my ankles were burning fiercely. And this was just the thing they needed.

Saklikent experience is very simple; you pay your 4 TL (about $2.60), walk into the gorge, jump into the water (it's knee-deep most of the time) and wade upstream. Oh, and try not to fall or lose your shoes. That's it; step into the very cold water and wade upstream as far as you can go. Now, there's just no good way to photograph the scene. The crack in the mountain isn't particularly spectacular and the gritty stream winds and winds way all over the place. The one really impressive thing you can do is look up. This is what you see:

Yeah, it's 500 feet nearly straight up. And the farther you go upstream, the narrower it get and you have to maneuver past these giant boulders that have found their way down there from God-knows-where. And the stream gets colder. And deeper. What was ankle-to-knee deep soon approaches the waist. I wish I'd taken a few pictures of all the hapless tourists struggling upstream. It was quite a scene. But no matter your troubles, you could look up and see this:

Of course, you start thinking nonsense like: 'Well, if this mountain just cracked open one day, it can probably snap shut. And what if that day...is TODAY???' I found myself preoccupied with that thought as the gorge got narrower. After I hadd gotten past a particularly difficult rapid (I had been goıng upstream for at least an hour), I decided to turn back. For you Saklikent veterans, this was just prior to the waterfall. I could see it, but I couldn't get to it, because the water became too deep. I headed back. You know something? That cold, dirty water worked like magic on my tomato-colored ankles. Nothing cures things like gorge water!

I took my time getting back, but when I arrived at the start/finish point, I looked like this:

Very intrepid, no?

The return to Patara was even more time-consuming and convoluted than the trip to Saklikent, but at least I wasn't left by the side of the road this time. My ankles were fine for hours and after that, they got better. The next day, things were in good enough order for me to go to the beach again.

1 comment:

elaine said...

Yes, Awesome and just the thing for sunburn.