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ON THE TRACK OF GLACIER LAKES...
2002 / FEBRUARY

Carrying a heavy pack on your back you climb the seemingly endless winding path upwards. You are out of breath, and at every step your pack seems to get heavier. Each breath you take falls into a rhythm with your heart beat. You turn around and look back. Far below you catch sight of the flat grassy spot where your tent stood just that morning and you ate breakfast. As a light drizzle begins to fall, you notice the black clouds and begin to walk faster. A sparrow darts in front of you with a wild cry, and behind it comes a bird of prey. Life depends on a single extra flap of the wing. The final few steps, a final effort, and suddenly you emerge on a flat meadow. All around you are colourful flowers. You are in a world of enchantment. You long to just stretch out on the ground, but your goal is not far now. First you hear the rippling sound of a small stream and then a huge blue lake appears before you like an enormous emerald hidden amongst tall wild peaks. Your wonderment quickly makes way for panic. Claps of thunder shake the sky, and rain buckets down.

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ON THE TRACK OF GLACIER LAKES...
2002 / FEBRUARY

Reclining in your tent, a cup of coffee in hand, you watch the rainfall drumming on the lake. Safe from the elements, thoughts run through your head. Human beings have always had to battle with nature, finding new solutions to each problem encountered. The greatest struggle for survival took place during the ice ages, in a ruthless battle in which the odds were against mankind. Yet they managed to come out of it alive. In time the climate warmed, and the glaciers retreated, only to move downwards again in cold periods, reaching right into the valleys. In the course of this movement to and fro, the glaciers scraped and ground the valley floors like gigantic files, and dug out the plateaus into bowls of all shapes and sizes. Valleys were gradually eroded into troughs, and the bowls filled with water to form glacier lakes. Water from these lakes flowed down through the glacier valleys, and human settlements were established on their gouged out floors.

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ON THE TRACK OF GLACIER LAKES...
2002 / FEBRUARY
Small streams flowing from glacier lakes converged to form larger streams, which in turn converged again to form great rivers. Their banks became home to civilizations founded by people in search of water and fertile soil. Thus glaciers and glacier lakes became an inseparable part of human life. All over the world glacier lakes are to be found in high mountains. In Turkey they are to be found in the mountains of the Eastern Black Sea, Toros, Cilo, Munzur and other ranges, along with glaciers and innumerable glacier valleys. On the summit of Mount Süphan in eastern Turkey is a glacier lake which sometimes dries up completely in summer. At over 4000 metres, this is the highest glacier lake in Turkey.
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ON THE TRACK OF GLACIER LAKES...
2002 / FEBRUARY

The Kaçkar Mountains of the Eastern Black Sea region are full of glacier lakes, created by the Greater, Lesser and Southern glaciers remaining from the last ice age, and by many small glaciers on their northern slopes. These lakes water the entire region. They are the source of the Kavran, Çeymakçur, Palakçur, Avaçur and Kaçkar rivers, each of which flows through a broad glacier valley, and converging with streams from Verçenik form the fierce torrent of the Firtina River. To the south the Davali , Büyükçay and Bulut rivers join those from Mount Altiparmak to form the Barhal River, which is the main source of the great Çoruh River. Seeking out glacier lakes is a fascinating journey through geological and human time, revealing nature at its most remote and spectacular.

* Yildirim Güngör is a geologist


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