Monday, June 21, 2010

On my way to the summit

    This is the story of my unsuccessful attempt to reach to the peak of Uludağ on Saturday, June 19. I had to give up my ascent about 200 m below the summit. I had to give up because I ran out battery on my N900 where I was logging my coordinates, communicating with my family down in the city of Bursa, and capturing all those beautiful moments that I came across along the way. To my luck, the battery died just at the point where I photographed the little summit without being saved to the device memory. Coincidentally, this was the point where I stopped climbing any further.
    I was readying myself to greet Erden Eruç from the top for his amazing solo journey. Along with him, I was going to send some special messages to a few people in my life, and to a few that I have met in the last couple of years in my life. Unfortunately I couldn't touch the sky from the summit; I couldn't keep the sun up for two more hours nor managed to last my batteries to document all my progress. However I managed to got back home safely; without being eaten by wolves or birds while biking in the dark from the mountain top to the almost downtown area. I returned with beautiful stories and beautiful pictures. Sometimes reaching the destination isn't all about, but it is the journey what matters most (What!, you haven't read the Alchemist yet?).
    Here on, the real story begins. We started ascending (me and my bike in the same cabin) in a famous aerial tramway. I spent about 8$ for one-way two stage trip for both myself and the bike. It takes about 15-20 minutes without to reach up to Sarıalan and as seen in the above picture the trip is highly scenic but a scary one especially if you feel fear from looking down high heights.
This is the Sarıalan plateau, and also showing where I was heading to. Although the mini-buses on the front was waiting for passengers to go to the hotels region, I have passed my chance for  the next time to experience the scenery as closely as possible and to mimic Erden's style a bit. The sub-motivation of this trip was to see if the white looking parts on the slope of the summit was really snow packs or some sort of rocks. 
    Wasn't I right? It is all green in between lovely bird songs. This was one my most beautiful biking path I have ever taken. Although after less than a kilometer pedaling the slope of the road got steeper, I reached to a point that I was after in about 3 km more biking.
    Finally, my bike is at the crossroad. It is actually my cousin's bike. I stressed the bike probably more than what its manufacturer had done on it. Through wet or dry, bumpy or straight, rocky or sandy roads, day or night and blazingly fast or turtle slow, in climbing or descending it never broke down, and never had me to touch on it once. Thank you Bisan, you really know how to make a durable mountain bike at very affordable prices.
    Water water everywhere, and all drops for drinking. This was another pure joy moment. I should have stopped my climb after washing my head under this fridge cold spring. I know of myself being content with small things most of the time. Apparently, this was not of those moments. I ended up continuing upwards and instead the bike carrying me I had to carry it on the very harsh roads.  On the way up there was many small creaks flowing downwards conveniently freeing me from carrying water. I gave about 4-5 water breaks. Could those be any signs of melting rocks? :)  Although the nature was very generous to water me any time I needed, there wasn't much to eat around the grass and on trees.

    Here comes the challenges. I felt like playing the latest Prince of Persia game when I came by these missing bridges. The trail was getting rougher; partially eroded by the flowing water mostly, and covered by rocks at its particular places. The first pass was the easier one, since the columns were as if specially designed for bikers in mind. When I came to the next one, I paused for a moment and Damian Walter's clip started playing in my head, immediately.  I saved this part for him; one wrong move could have stranded me there. I took the easier path and walked around the bridge by spending 2 extra minutes, refreshing myself once again from that fresh snow water. 
    This photo was my final summit capture. It was taken about half an hour before I reach my bridge challenges. At point A, I left my bike behind departing from the trail a bit uphill. It took me about another half an hour to get to the point B.  If "C" had located on one down the right, I would have continued and touched there in a good one hour in spite of lack of all the supplies. I saw two hikers and a car parked on one hill along the way. Definitely, I would camp somewhere on the hills if I had enough equipments and companied by a good friend. 
    And a bonus sunset. I was lucky enough to see double suns appearing in the sky. I should improve my ability to interpret universe's language. (Haven't I mentioned somewhere above about the Alchemist?) When the nature has sent me omens like above I should have been wiser and not to turn my back at them. Clearly, one of the suns (illusion or not) was setting and telling me it's time to go back home. 
   After about three hours ascent, in almost an hour I managed to return to the hotels region safely. Only at one point, I was stopped by a watchdog and had to veer off to bushes. I was not sure whether the dog was leashed or not. He barked a few times and stepped a few feet towards me, while I was backing up at the same time. Later on, I stopped for a short snack break. 
    It was after 45 minutes fast descent, when I called my dad to pick me up by the İnkaya sycamore about 10 minutes biking distance before I could reach to the downtown. (You still don't know the story of the Alchemist starts by a sycamore? :)  Through the dark, water splash, wind whispering, dog barking, car lighting, and half moon lit ways my 25-30 km descent was completed within 45 minutes, slowing down at a few points but without ever once stopping. It could be argued if it was smart to take this adventure alone at night, but one thing is for sure; there is a lot to learn facing the darkness. In case someone still wonders, this bike proved me once again that a bike's most essential feature is its tires turning unceasingly when one most needs them to be.    
    Final words are taken from a verse attributed to Imam al-Shafi which I heard in the The Man Who Walked Across the World titled documentary made for the Islamic seyyah Ibn Battuta:

         Travel! Set out for pastures new
                                 Life tastes richer when you have road-worn feet.
                No water that stagnates is fit to drink,
                 For only that which flows is truly sweet.


  1. What an adventure! Did you take these pictures with your N900?

    Are you going to try to reach the peak again?

  2. Yep, they are all N900 captured pictures.

    Heh, I am looking forward someone to join me on full bike climb and descent without that air travel :D