Thursday, June 20, 2013

"WHY are you going to TURKEY!? - i.e. the planning phase of Lycian Way

DISCLAIMER - MUCH of this is a crappy gear-head post.  It sucks, because it's geared towards gear-heads, except I have not found time to get all the details in here, which is what gear-heads like...The following posts will be waaaaaayyyyy more fun.  GEAR HEADS - I may actually weigh everything and update this post...


“Why are you going to Turkey?”

Well, I used the modern version of throwing a dart at my world map, and googled something along the lines of  “Where the hell should I travel to in February?” and some trek I had never heard of popped up: The Lycian Way. A 500km (300’ish mile) slog along the Mediterranean Coast of Turkey. Sold.

Map from

Grant was informed, and he did not fight me.
Yellow box is Ancient Lycia, and where our "Lycian Way" hike was
 Now then, I’ve been hiking, backpacking, and traveling to strange lands, but never at the same time, so this took me to a whole new level of preparation I was unaccustomed to. We could only wing it so much.

One of the main problems I tried to overcome was getting our packweight down to almost ultralight status while also not looking like a shit-bum hippie (nothing against hippies, just the shit-bum ones. And you know, it’s Europe, a Muslim country, and I’m not 19 anymore)

One of the biggest debates was whether to bring a tent or not. The vast majority of hikers hike from pansiyon to pansiyon (small family hostel type place) and don’t carry camping gear. But there were several sections that didn’t have accommodation, and we were planning on covering more ground than the sections of the book described (Kate Clow, mastermind of this trek, and most trekking in Turkey).  So in the end, we opted for a tent and all accompanying gear.

Well, that tent and all accompanying gear was examined, contemplated, and compared to the newest products and philosophies of lightweight backpacking.

The first thing was to get a new tent. Our old tent weighed in at a staggering seven pounds! I bought a new one on that brought that weight down to 4 pounds.

Next I learned about a simple alcohol stove, fondly referred to as a “Fancy Feast Stove”.
This simple, cheap, homemade product further reduced our weight by 2 pounds.

One of the next philosophies I considered was the weight of the pack itself. Sounds obvious when I say it now, but you can reduce several pounds just by getting a smaller, lighter pack, and considering you are going to be carrying less stuff, you don’t need a huge pack anyway! Grant already had a spiffy Osprey Talon 44 pack that he used as a slightly oversized daypack, so I just got myself one, as I already loved the Ospreys.This cut a few more pounds.

The final big ticket item was a new sleeping bag. We already had new lightweight sleeping bags, but truth be told, it sucks sleeping in your own bag next to your significant other, and with us looking at a month of sleeping in our tent, I opted to have Feathered Friends build us an awesome double sleeping bag, the underside of which was not down, but just a nice fleece sheet like material that had sleeves for our sleeping pads. This reduced our weight another pound, and provided for a cozy sleeping arrangement. BIG PLUS - MADE IN THE USA, and LOCALLY IN SEATTLE!!!  GO FEATHERED FRIENDS!

Let’s just say, I actually got really sick of REI, but found a great excuse to update my gear.  Considering I had all my old gear for over 10 years, I think this fancy feast stove etc… will last me at least another decade :)

Total weight lost with other gear swaps, and do-withouts: Approximately 10 pounds total.  I’m telling you, as any backpacker will tell you, five pounds per person is nothing to sneeze at! Sorry I don’t have my exact skin-out weight, but I can try to calculate that another time.

Unfortunately, we also had to come up with a new wardrobe.  I don’t dress up...ever. I was convinced we had to look nice while also having practical clothing for hiking.  I hate to be such a yuppie, but I ended up in Ex-officio. I tell you what, we dove in and took the underwear challenge, and those two pairs of Ex-officio underwear we each brought held up and did their job admirably. I will never travel with more than two pair of underwear again!

On top of getting gear and a couple of guidebooks, I also set out to learn some courtesy Turkish. Spoiler alert: it was much appreciated. We were some of the only tourists who spoke any Turkish at all, let alone more than Merhaba (hello). I am proud of myself for what I learned, yet was still ashamed I didn’t learn more. It was really nice to be able to say please and thank-you, excuse me, I’m sorry, hello and goodbye a few different ways; and to top it off and to much delight and roaring laughter “I speak a little Turkish’. I recommend everybody learn at least this much. It was also fun to finally know more of the local language than Grant. Usually I lean heavily on him to do the communicating, and this time I got to put my best foot forward and do the mis-communicating!

Of course, as you will see in upcoming posts, there was much we could have done differently.  For example, I would never recommend people bring camping gear if they do this trip…But that’s for later.

Ok kids. I don’t care how miserable I’ve made you getting ready and I don’t care how miserable you’re going to be once we’re there….so just load up ‘cause WE’RE GOING TO TURKEY!!!