How to cheat death...or how not to go hiking in Cappadocia

Due to the arrival of the coursebooks for my next Psychology module, I am totally lacking in any form of goal-directed motivation or life-loving inspiration.  So instead of even attempting to look to the future or evaluate the present I am going to tell a story from the past today.

While I was in Turkey I was fortunate enough to visit the stunning region of Cappadocia - where there are loads of great but very confusing hiking trails for you to explore the gorgeous valleys on.  Downside is that not one of the trails is that well signed, and the map that the tourist info people can give you is only really good for helping you to work out which direction you should be vaguely attempting to find a path for.  That said I successfully managed to find me way both in and out of Rose Valley and Love Valley in about 3 hours - so was feeling pretty good about things when I hit Red Valley.

Having walked a really long way up a dry river bed into Red Valley (the valley in front of the far away hill in the photo), I ended up pretty high up on a plateau.  I kind of wanted to come back down into Goreme now as I had a bus to catch - but couldnt see any way down off this plateau that was anything remotely resembling safe except the way I had come.  And I have this thing about never going back - so I really wanted to find another way.  In the end I decided I would follow the massive "Exit" arrow painted onto the wall on the cliff behind me, even though I didnt really want to gain any more height and was kind of concerned that this route would be taking me away from Goreme.  But...I foolishly thought to myself - how bad can the waymarked exit from this valley really be!

I guess when I reached the sign and saw that I had to climb up these footholes carved into the vertical rock that I should have realised that it was probably a bad idea.  But I figured that as this was the signed route it would be ok - maybe once I had climbed the rock footholds it would be flat from there....wrong.  Very wrong.  So I climbed up the cliff - which was a little awkward but not too bad really, though I realised when I got too high up to go back that coming back down it would be a lot more difficult!  And then I looked down the other side, to see that this nicely signed route had led me to what literally looked like a death chute.  If I had been in a water park looking at a slide that narrow and at that angle I would have been scared!  But no, this was not a nice smiley plastic chute, this was a slippery smooth sandstone channel barely wider than my hips plummeting steeply down with no hint of when or where it might end.

So being the stubborn idiot that I am, I set off down the death chutes in a kind of spider pose like the Ninja Warrior guys use on the Jumping Spider obstacle.  Please note that I am not some muscle-bound crazy person who is used to such stunts so this was terrifying and also kind of impossible!  Obviously I did eventually make it down the twisting spiralling abyss to safe ground - but not without getting everything I was wearing covered in red mud and my entire body covered in grazes and bruises.  Also I was a nervous wreck - as the whole way down I was painfully aware of easily I could break an ankle or worse..and how long it was likely to be before anyone else came through that way to find me!  
And then to top it all off, on the way back to Goreme I met some old guy who proceeded to grope me and make me feel really uncomfortable.  And it was freezing cold! Not the best day of the trip, but definitely one to remember...

What did I learn from this experience then...well hiking in Cappadocia is TOTALLY worth the death risk - it is quite possibly the most awe-inspiring landscape I have ever seen in my life.  But also thatas usual my mother is right, you really should never go up something that you cant come back down - as the grass may not be greener on the other side!


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