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Getting Out of the City

I’m a little late to post, but I spent most of last weekend getting out of the city.  I think because Ankara isn’t the most beautiful of cities, the urban environment starts to weigh on me and I crave green spaces.

On Saturday my colonel friend took me to a small park at Haceteppe University.  Most of the universities’ main campuses are outside the city, so they have a lot of room for trees, parks, and views.  Here’s the lake we walked around a few times.  There’s also a nice outdoor restaurant in the area where we had lunch.  It’s great to get introduced to these places – once I can use my car, I’d love to come out and run the fire roads in the forests.

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On Sunday I did a hike in Camliderere, which means pine tree something.  That’s the general area, and then we actually hiked in Kızilcahamam, which means reddish bath.  Basically, the area is known for its redwood trees and its hot springs and was so named.  The trees didn’t even come close to reminding me of California’s redwood forests, but it was still a forest, so no complaints. 

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After hours of hiking, mostly uphill, we stopped at a spring to eat lunch.

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There are lots of great things about hiking in Turkey.  Every once in a while you find a spring in the woods with cool, sweet water.  No one has any compulsions about drinking straight from the source – I even filled up my water bottle a few times with no negative effects.  Throughout the hike, we ate mountain strawberries and fresh plums that we plucked along the way.  The mountain strawberries are tiny but very sweet, almost like candy – a perfect sugar bolt as you’re heading uphill. 

That morning the forecast said there was a 50% chance of storms in Ankara, and since I didn’t know how far out of Ankara we’d be hiking, I packed my raincoat. While we were eating lunch, we started hearing the thunder.  As much as I love storms, I usually appreciate them from a porch on the beach or an apartment balcony.  Being in the middle of the forest with no discernible path and a feeling that we didn’t exactly know where we were, or the quickest way back to a shelter provided a completely different storm experience.  As the rain started and the thunder grew closer, we picked our way through trees and valleys looking for, well, anything.  When we reached a clearing on a summit, we found this woodman’s tent/shelter, and decided to hang out here until the worst passed.

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Our guides must have also looked at the forecast – they kept pulling raingear out of their packs and distributing it to everybody!  While we were camping out, I pulled out my phone and was shocked to see I had a signal – some of you saw my facebook post.  It really is crazy to think you’re in a horrific storm in the middle of nowhere and then find you have a signal and a world of information at your fingertips.  On google maps we saw that we were really close to a logging road, so when the thunder and lighting finally stopped, we trekked to this road and hiked down to the highway, then back to our cars. 

By the time we stopped for a barbeque on our way back into the city, we were all mostly dry and happy again, laughing about the time we got lost in the woods in a terrible storm. 

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