Taurus Mountains (1)

The Taurus Mountains are a Turkish delight! They feature deep gorges, rock faces and crenelated ridges. To add spice to them there are a number of accessible peaks between 3000 and 4000 metres. The walking is not always easy with plenty of scree, which is fun to go down but tiresome to climb up. Thought needs to be given to the route taken to avoid some long, hot ascents; much better to descend by these long routes particularly when it is hot, and it can get very hot in July. My thermometer, attached to my camera bag, registered a high of 47C. I have by no means seen all there is of the Taurus Mountains, and I missed some of our itinerary while looking after a sick member of the group, but I have seen enough to want to return, perhaps in late spring or the autumn when the temperatures are a little more manageable.
Our introduction to the Taurus Mountains was in the village of Demirkazit with the rock wall that is Mt. Demirkazit (3756m) towering above. However, we were not there to look at the mountains but to visit the village school. The school was closed for the long summer holiday but a sizeable number of children were mustered for our visit. It was remarkably well equipped with computers and an interactive white board etc.
To break the ice we sang ‘Head, shoulders, knees and toes’ and they responded with a very loud, passionate rendition of the Turkish National Anthem. Ice broken, we handed out our goodie bags, playing with the toys in them and found out a little about them. It was all a little chaotic in the confined space of a classroom. There must have been seventy in there, adding to the already clammy atmosphere.
There were no teachers there; they were sensibly on holiday, but that was a good thing. When we asked the children what they would most like improved in their school their response was immediate and unanimous. They all wanted the toilets repaired and improved. The school caretaker, who was there, agreed with the children but also wanted the new boundary wall raised with a wire fence on top of it. With the sums done we were able to hand over sufficient funds for the two jobs to be done to everyone’s satisfaction. They have promised to send me photographs when the work is done before the new academic year starts.
Having finished at the school our bus took us the short distance to the trailhead village of Pinarbasi and the start of our Taurus Mountains trek. The walk to camp was a gentle introduction with just two hours to camp, overlooking the entrance to the Maden Valley. As we walked storm clouds brewed over Mt. Demirkazit and it started to rain. I had been the victim of much derision for carrying a small umbrella but now the rest of the group wished they had one as the majority of them, me included, had not put our waterproofs in our day sacks.
The campsite was impressively placed on a natural platform overlooking the lower end of the Maden Valley. Nearby, but not so near that the dogs disturbed us, was a nomad camp, their flocks out roaming the hillsides. These flocks are closely observed by their shepherds and protected from wolf attack by very large, often aggressive and threatening dogs. Some have spiked collars to protect them from retaliatory wolves who naturally go for the neck.
The campsite, like all the campsites we stayed in, was semi-permanent, set up for the trekking season. Occasionally we had to take down our tents in the morning so they could be moved on to the next camp but more often than not the tents were a permanent feature. It was only the large size of our group that sometimes necessitated the moving of tents. The mess tent, made of goat’s wool, was an open fronted structure with crudely, yet very effective tables and benches. The toilet tent had a porcelain squat toilet with piped water to flush it. Hose pipes from much higher up the mountain brought fresh drinking water into camp. There was even a shower tent, albeit with a hose of cold water, but even that was very welcome after a hot, sticky day.

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