LOADING...

























ROLLING HEIGHTS TO MISTY VALLEYS JOURNEY FROM HEVEK TO AYDER
2002 / FEBRUARY

There are two different tales of two different lives, at once in close proximity and far apart. If you have ever climbed to the summit of Mount Kaçkar, you will have already experienced the contrast between the coastal and inland zones of the Black Sea region in terms of both terrain and climate. The classical Black Sea climate north of the mountains is characterised by high precipitation and lush vegetation, whereas to the south a continental climate and sparse vegetation prevail.
In the early light of a day that promises to become hot, I set out from the city of Artvin in north-east Turkey, at first following the course of the Çoruh River, crossed by dozens of graceful bridges. For most of the time the landscape was dominated by the myriad tones of yellow and brown of the bare central uplands, so different from the voluptuous greens associated with the Black Sea region.

PAGE 1/6


























ROLLING HEIGHTS TO MISTY VALLEYS JOURNEY FROM HEVEK TO AYDER
2002 / FEBRUARY

If you are heading inland in the opposite direction the incessant rain of the coastal area gradually makes way for dry warmth as you leave the Eastern Black Sea mountains behind. When travelling here you must be prepared for any surprises the Black Sea climate has up its sleeve. Local people actually have a word to describe this state of readiness for anything: koçira. When the weather turns blazing hot you can immediately exchange trousers for shorts and pack your raincoat away. South of the mountains the boundaries of the golden yellow fields are marked by stones, and from your hilltop vantage point an endless mosaic of fields stretches far into the distance.
The village on the Hevek yayla or high pasture at 2500 metres was the last before the summit of Kaçkar, and it seemed as if I could reach out and touch the clouds being swept through a bright blue sky by the gusting wind. The silence was broken only by the sound of flowing water in a nearby stream.

PAGE 2/6


























ROLLING HEIGHTS TO MISTY VALLEYS JOURNEY FROM HEVEK TO AYDER
2002 / FEBRUARY
People were slowly returning to their fields after retiring into their cottages to escape the noon heat. Two men carrying hoes over their shoulders greeted me as they passed, and before long I saw them at work on the opposite slope.
Spring had arrived and nature was awakening, carpeting the mountain with bright green grass, snowdrops and marguerites even before the snowy caps on the mountain summits visible in the near and far distance had melted. As the day drew in the last drops of sunshine created miracles on the mountain slopes, bathing them in a red glow that gradually receded from the valley floor up to the summits. Through two valleys stretching northwards from the spot where I stood, a chill wind struck my face. It was time to stop for the night. I had to make an early start in the morning, heading from Hevek to Döbe Yayla, Karagöl Pass, Karagöl, and from there either via Öküzçayiri or Yukari Çaymakçur Yayla to Ayder, the last stop on my hiking route.
PAGE 3/6


























ROLLING HEIGHTS TO MISTY VALLEYS JOURNEY FROM HEVEK TO AYDER
2002 / FEBRUARY

I set out by first light, and as I approached Karagöl Pass found my pace slowed by snow drifts. The wind's whining turned to whistling as it struck the rocks. From atop the sharp boulders I looked back once at the valley leading south to Hevek, Barhal and Yusufeli. The clear blue sky looked down on parallel rows of mountains arrayed one behind another as far as the horizon. It was a pleasure to have arrived early at the pass and enjoy the sight of this wild spot. When I turned to look northwards in the direction of Ayder, I saw that I stood on the boundary line between two contrasting landscapes. Far below mist from the sea billowed into the deep valleys, and dark green pines clung to the mountain slopes. Firtina Vadisi National Park, renowned for its diversity of plants, was already almost hidden from sight.

PAGE 4/6


























ROLLING HEIGHTS TO MISTY VALLEYS JOURNEY FROM HEVEK TO AYDER
2002 / FEBRUARY
Deciding to take the route through Çaymakçur, I followed the faintly outlined path down the steep slopes to the pasture. Here the local people, accustomed to visitors descending out of the mountains without warning, set about cooking muhlama, a porridge-like dish made of cheese, butter and flour. Through the distracting aroma of hot butter melting in the pan, I noticed the mist creeping slowly but surely up the mountainside.
PAGE 5/6
 


























ROLLING HEIGHTS TO MISTY VALLEYS JOURNEY FROM HEVEK TO AYDER
2002 / FEBRUARY

An hour later I was on my way again, and as I walked through the thick pine forest I decided that the beauty of the Eastern Black Sea region lay in this encounter between two such different climates. The heavy mist brought dew, covering branches and foliage, and welcoming me to Rize. By the side of the road I came across campers taking advantage of the weekend break. From afar I caught the melancholy strains of a bagpipe, echoing faintly through the forest and hidden streambeds.

* Ibrahim Yogurtçu is a photographer and a freelance writer

PAGE 6/6
 

























Previous