Sunday, 22 August 2010

Meeting up with our muleteers and onto Gorgit

We had spent a glorious day discovering the Maral waterfall and few of the villages in the valley but it was time to say our goodbye to Hassan's family and meet up with our Muleteers to travel on to Gorgit and beyond. It was mid morning and once again Macahel was shrouded in mist but the sky swiftly cleared as Mavlute drove us up the valley . Mavlutes hand on the wheel was going to be sadly missed until we were to meet up again at the end of our mountain trek. I was getting fond of our our white van but the next leg of our journey was soon to eclipse the trail of Mavlutes white van .We were going off piste to somewhere special.

Before we made our liaison with the Muleteers Hassan took us to a couple of bridges. Hüseyin was to stay with us for the morning and a nephew of Hassan ,Orhan was going to act as interpreter for the next leg of our journey. His English was poor which later created some confusion with our arrangements but all was to work out fine in the end with the odd amusing hiccup. I suspect Orhan discovered more than he bargained for when he accepted responsibility for translation.

This well known Macahely bridge must have been photographed numerous times and deserved the visit. Notice the slays in the picture below tucked up in the rafters of the roof for the winter.

Adjacent to the bridge is a new building being built in the traditional manner. I thought this image might help to place some of the buildings featured in this Blog into perspective.

This amazing bridge shrouded in vegetation was built in the era of Queen Tamar of Georgia 1184 to 1213 and was built in two parts to bridge the two rivers Maral and Efeler before they converged.
If you are interested there are two large rivers in valleys of Maral and Efeler each given the same names as the valley. Maral (Uğur) river is made by collection of streams :Seyelan, Gavi, Baglugilt, Kuvesegvela, Devlopan, Secra, Galdo, Havinala, Blansşinara, Zemtius and Havitavi .
Efeler river is made up from the streams Nacaklev, Nasapone, Sakatigela, Demirkapı, Sepetiriya, Sadgomi, Tihemliyom, İnce ve Digot . As you might imaging there is an abundance of water.

By late morning we arrived the village of Efeler to meet our happy band of Muleteers who didn't appear so happy and were very cautious to meet us when we were first introduced somewhat awkwardly by Hassan . It transpired we were the first English people to have hired horses/mules to travel as a group to Gorgit via the national park and beyond and this mule trip was all a bit of an experiment . The tough part was saying our goodbyes to Hüseyin who sadly had commitments at his university . His support and assistance had been invaluable and it was a shame he was to miss the next leg of our adventure.

We took off slowly, a little unsure of what to expect. The path was overgrown but clear to see and once moving our Muleteers and Guides began to relax as we made our way along the trail. As our smiles broke out our Muleteers also began to loosen up and as always all was fine with the world.

Richard was keen to walk so swapped his mule for the footpath and gave his mule up to Hassan who found the walking tough most likely due to his constant smoking.

The most sturdy of mules was chosen to take our luggage and provisions. His panniers were made from woven chestnut lathes making lightweight baskets which are both flexible and strong.

We had herd tell of the forest on the trail to Gorgit and it didn't let us down. This ancient place with it's trees from another era had an atmosphere and presence of it own. I only wish we could have spent more time soaking up one of the finest forests in Turkey.

If you have ever travelled on horseback in a forest you will know how very different the experience is compared with hiking. One is not preoccupied with the uneven ground and way ahead. With a Muleteer and on a horseback you can relax and soak up the atmosphere letting the horse do all the hard work and experience far more.

The joy of this type of travel is after a few hours making our way up into the mountains from the villages of Macahel we came to an area which was appeared gently touched by human kind. The odd bridge but nothing else, just a magnificent expanse of the wild.

I don't have a picture but for much of the time our Muleteers carried umbrellas. This was partly because of the strength of the sun but also with the possibility of the rain. Umbrellas felt so incongruous but they are a fact of life in Macahel as are the ubiquitous rubber shoes worn by so many.
Our arrival in Gorgit was tempered by the ever present mist and the beauty of the Hamlet, high on the Yayala, was yet to behold.

Once we had dismounted our mules and horses took flight and a couple attempted to roll . Nothing changes and I always enjoy watching the relief expressed by the horses once we have reached our journeys end and they no longer have a weight on their backs.

The mist parted and the view of Gorgit hamlet revealed itself. A magical deserted hamlet for most of the year, only populated when the transhumant population stay while traveling to or from the high Yayala and staying for around a month or longer ,making the most of the verdant pasture.

In the Spring Gorgit provides a staging post while waiting for the snow on the highlands to melt and spring sedges and herbs burst into life after the hard winter. In the Autumn the transhumant stock can stay a while in Gorgit to make the most of the summer pasture before they make their way back down to the valley below in Macahel.

The rich green landscape was almost luminescent . With the Alpine sun and abundance of water the vegetation around Gorgit appeared to be in full flood making the most of the short season.

The first part of our journey on Mule and Horseback had come to an end and we had a day to relax and discover more of the delights of Gorgit which were to be bountiful.

Click on the link below Older Posts to discover more .

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