Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hike through Rose Valley

We decided to do something a bit different from our usual day of sightseeing, we put on our sneakers, packed water, tangerines and a pomegranate and headed on a hike through Rose Valley and beyond. As soon as we started we were in amazement of all the beauty around us. Including the trees which if they weren’t bare yet, had beautiful autumn-colored leafs. We passed through vineyards, trees, abandoned rock formations with openings carved for windows, and even through nature-made tunnels that have been carved in the rock by wind and water. I don’t even remember how many times we murmured ‘wow’ to ourselves but I’m sure it would have been too many to count. Julia and I love nature, we try to do our share of hikes back in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and have been on some incredible hikes but this one will stay in our memory for a long time.

We passed some tall rock formations with windows carved out and we decided we would try to find some way to get in. We tried our rock climbing skills (and got close) but couldn’t quite get in. The caves were too high and the rock below was steep and smooth. We started hearing music and where really curious where it was coming from; that’s when we stumbled on a little random cafĂ© along our hiking path, in the middle of the wilderness, which was a little unexpected. We took many detours on this hike just to explore random things that we thought would be worthwhile. We climbed into tiny abandoned cave churches and took a steep hike to a plateau overlooking the whole Rose Valley region; it was incredible. The area is called Rose Valley because the rocks are pink in color... it looks a bit like the sun is setting at all times. We decided to take a break and eat our snacks; the pomegranate we had on the plateau was one of the best ones yet.

Our goal was to finish our walk at the “fairy chimney” rock formations, which was still quite a ways from where we were and we were hurrying to make it there before dark. But lo and behold, this little Turkish man on a small scooter (more like an electric bicycle) pulled up out of nowhere and wanted to know where we were headed. Keep in mind we are on a deserted dirt hiking path in a valley, not on a road. The man offered to take us to our destination on his bike. We laughed at first, then told him no about ten times. He was very persistent and after we bargained down to a very low price we agreed. We hopped onto a little scooter with a Turkish man (making three of us), and whizzed off to the fairy chimneys. Sounds like an adventure, eh? It was, I think we were either laughing or smiling the whole ride there. We were surprised that the bike could even carry all three of us (it had some trouble up little hills, even in 1st gear) but we made it to the chimney ferry’s at the perfect time. The light was magical, we took some photos and watched the sun set over the whimsical rock structures. Fairy chimneys are wonders of nature, and are formed when softer rock underneath is eroded away by the elements, leaving a “cap” of harder rock on top. They looked like mushrooms to us.

We got back on the bike with our personal driver (we got a lot of stares from the other tourists there, though I’m sure we were quite a sight) and headed back home. This Turkish man who spoke hardly any English showed up out of nowhere and saved our butts from a lot of walking, probably in the dark-- quite a blessing. One of the many, many that have come our way thus far on our travels.

We enjoyed the hike so much more than the Open Air Museum where every structure is labeled and fenced off and full of people. Sure, the caves and churches were far less impressive in the countryside than in the museum, but we felt a sense of discovery and adventure. Stumbling upon a sign of ancient human life out in the wilderness brings much satisfaction and delight. And the hike was free.