“Your legs are not giving out. You head is giving up. Keep going.”
Though our second pass was difficult – 2,500m of gain plus a fifteen kilometer extra climb up and down somewhere in the middle – the mountains and valleys all around made the steep climb worth it. Our favorite part of this pass was when an older couple invited us into their home for tea and fresh pastries that she made right there in front of us. The village was near the top, 2,000m high, and already had a tiny bit of snow on the ground (and was below freezing every night). In fact, all of the surrounding houses were already abandoned for the season, and our lovely couple was headed out to their winter home for the next eight months the very next day. Though we had never really pictured Turkey to be a cold and snowy place, we are quickly realizing that it’s a good thing we started on these passes when we did because a week or two later and we could have easily been trudging through snow. In just one week Turkey has bumped it’s way up to our favorite country this trip as the paved quiet roads, beautiful scenery, and hospitable people have made every single day wonderful.
A few kilometers after our tea break with the Turkish couple we found our first actual campsite! There was a ranger station, water, and designated spots so we happily called it a day to enjoy a perfect night in our tent. Though it’s probably a paid place in the summer, no one was there since we are definitely out of season. Our only visitors were a few loggers who stopped to say hello after they magically appeared out of the forest, and a sheep herder and his flock.
Though you can’t really tell from the photo, these sheep herding dogs are practically as large as me. That being said, they are also the most submissive and friendly gentle giants I have ever seen. I’ve made quite a few of these furry friends along the way as there were the same types of dogs in the Georgia mountains as well. The reason their ears are cut when they are young is because it makes them better fighters since the wolves (or whatever they are fighting against) can’t rip them out in a fight. I’ve always wanted to invite one in to cuddle at night though Kevin has always firmly vetoed that.
The last six hundred meters of elevation gain was beautiful!
After passing the top the landscapes changed dramatically into a vast hilly desert which we will now be living in for months. It also marked the beginning of “Kurdistan,” meaning the region of the Kurds who are the largest stateless population in the world.