Hiking the Lycian Way, Turkey – Day 9 – Hiking Mount Olympus with Pegasus, and the Domain of the legendary Fire Breathing Dragon, Chimera

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Hiking the Lycian Way, Turkey – Day 9 – Hiking Mount Olympus with Pegasus, and the Domain of the legendary Fire Breathing Dragon, Chimera

I have found it SO exciting to be actually walking in a land where so many mythical stories originated.

Yesterday, we walked the city where Santa Claus lived, and today, we hiked one of the peaks of Mount Olympus, where the fire breathing dragon Chimera was defeated by the warrior Bellerophon and his magical flying horse, Pegasus.

But let me start at the beginning.

We started our hike in the village of Ulupınar, a short distance from Çıralı.
To get there, we got a ride from the owner of our guesthouse.

The night before, as we sat by the fire and ate our dinner, he sat there with his friend of thirty years, sharing stories and jokes, and drinking whiskey after whiskey.
His wife, who made our delicious food, is a humble Muslim woman, with her hair covered in a pink cloth.
I am sure she was not happy with her husband’s drinking habits.

She kept a little black puppy in a cardboard carton by the fire, to keep Gabriel the puppy warm.
The puppy was just two months old.

We chatted about many things.
They told us that years ago, Çirali had lots of European tourists visiting.
Europeans from Holland, Germany, France, Italy and Scandinavia, used to come to these beaches.
“Today,” he said with a sigh, “it is mostly Russians.”
“Not good Russians,” they said, “Mostly families with lots of children come here now.”

They said that since 9/11, when the Twin towers in NYC fell, the whole world has changed.
Terrorism has become real, and people are afraid to travel.
Things also changed everywhere in Turkey, and it has not helped that inside Turkey, there were several terrorist attacks a few years ago.

After breakfast, he took us to the beginning of the trail in his car.
It was a very rusty car, with a leaky roof and lots of leaves on the seats, and the floor was littered with half empty water bottles and ropes.

He balanced his chai and his whiskey glasses between the handbrake and the gears.
I thought to myself that he would spill either the whiskey or the Chai if he starts shifting gears as we climbed up the mountain, but I did not need to fear.
The gears must not work well, because he drove in second gear all the way up.

The day before I had gotten a view of Mount Olympus.
It looked tall…with a peak that was completely covered in snow…
But we were not hiking to the summit.

Today we walked on one of the lower slopes, crossing over the Chimera pass.
This morning, the mountain was covered in mist.
Clouds covered the surrounding peaks and descended to the road.
It was drizzling rain when we started to walk.

We started in the village of Ulupinar, known for its trout, waterfalls, rivers and fish restaurants where you can sit with your feet in the creek, and eat fresh trout.

As we made our way down the village to the trailhead, two snarling dogs ran towards us, barking and threatening to bite us.
They were not wagging their tails, and did not respond well to the loving energy I sent them.

They approached us from behind, barking and trying to nip at our legs.
It was really scary, but I refused to pick up stones to throw at them to scare them away.
Suddenly, a large white dog appeared and got between us and the dogs, who were foaming at the mouth.

The dogs stayed behind as we quickly walked away with our new guardian dog.
We named her Peggy, short for Pegasus, as she was like the strong white mythical Pegasus, appearing out of nowhere, saving us from the vicious street dogs.

Don’t get me wrong, Peggy was no Snow White.
She was a street dog who had given birth to too many puppies, as her genitals were as red as that of a baboon. She was also covered in tics and fleas, which she stopped to scratch often.
But she was gentle and so sweet, with a kind nature and a loving spirit.

The trail was beautiful.
We walked by the river, with tall trees covered in moss, their leaves now changing their colors.
Peggy walked beside us the whole way, stopping often for me to pet her wet and dirty fur, putting her nose under my hand, asking me to rub her.

The trail went across the river, but the recent rains had washed away the makeshift bridge, and the water level was high.
The river stones were slippery, but we had to find a way to cross the river.

We surveyed the fast moving river, swollen with the recent rains and looked for a place where the river was calmer and more shallow.
We walked up and down the river to locate the best crossing point.

Farther down the river, the river beds on both sides rose up vertically, making it difficult to rejoin the path after we crossed the river.
We decided to walk backwards along the shore instead.

We found a calm place with less rapids, and walked across a fallen tree part of the way, and over rocks the remainder of the way.
We crossed without getting wet.
Peggy who followed me initially, turned back.
It was not a good crossing point for a four legged dog.
She found her own crossing point and played on the other shore, quietly waiting for Jules to complete his crossing.

A bit farther, we had to cross another stream.
If we had been able to cross where the trail veered to the left, we would not have had to cross this stream, but we had crossed in a place where we still had to cross it.

I saw no other way than to take off my shoes and socks and wade through the stream.
Jules did the same and we both sat on a rock after crossing the creek, and dried off our feet before putting on our socks and shoes.
Peggy waited on the shore patiently, having already crossed the creek without a hitch.

The forest hike became a narrow climb into the mountain.
We climbed up and up, at times on a very narrow path that was washed away by the previous day’s rains.
Peggy kept good footing, always leading ahead and looking backward often, to make sure we were behind her, and had no taken another path.

When we nearly got to the peak of Chimera, we saw a local older man walking down the hill.
The minute he saw Peggy, he picked up some big stones to throw at her.
She started barking in fear.
I called to the man and asked him not to throw the stones.
I told him Peggy was a good dog.

The man pointed to her mouth and said something to the effect that she was drooling.
Of course she was drooling, we had been walking for a long time, mostly up a steep mountain slope.
I called Peggy to come near me.
She came and stood by my leg.
Again I asked the man not to throw his stones.

He was afraid to continue, and pointed to a higher path and motioned for me to take the dog up there so he could cross safely.
I did as he asked.
I took Peggy up the path and waited for him to cross on the narrow lower path.
He only dropped the big stones that he had carried after we disappeared around the bend.

On the top of the pass, there was a higher Chimera fire field, but the recent rains had blocked the gas vents, preventing the flames from appearing in the wet, rocky soil.

A long descent on a rocky path took us down the mountain.
The forest around us was beautiful, and Peggy the dog continued to lead the way.
When we reached the lower Chimera area, we could see the flames from a distance, and we got excited.

A natural rocky platform covered the area.
The flames rose out of the ground from small caverns, the flames looking like golden spirits dancing.

I could see pieces of sausage that previous visitors had grilled in the fire.
I gathered all the pieces of meat I could find, and fed them to Peggy, who was delighted to eat anything.
She was able to drink from the creeks, but we were carrying no food a dog would enjoy.

When we left the forest, we walked on a well kept trail with stone steps.
People come at night to see the Chimera flames, and they walk up this steep but short part of the trail using flashlights to light their way.

The flames rising from the rocks were amazing.
It wasn’t like lava or like smoke, it was a flame that is said to have been continuously burning since ancient times.

Right here, on the slopes of Mount Olympus, in this field of Chimera fire, is where the eternal burning flame symbol of the Olympic torch originated.

Seeing the flames coming from the rocks, standing on Mount Olympus, the domain of the legendary Chimera fire breathing dragon, I felt real awe and joy.

The story of Chimera is mentioned in ancient Greek books as early as the 2nd century A.D.

“King Iobates of Lycia (Lykia) ordered the Warrior Bellerophon, to slay Chimera (Khimaira), hoping that Bellerophon would be destroyed by the beast.

Even a large quantity of men could not subdue Chimera, let alone one person.
For Chimera was a single beast, that had the force of three beasts.
The fore part of her body was that of a lion, and the hind part that of a dragon, while the middle was that of a goat.

With the body of a lion, the tail and claws of a dragon (drakon), the heads of a goat and of a snake, the Chimera breathed out flames of fire.

It had reeked havoc in the countryside and had ravaged the herds.
It was allegedly reared by Amisodarus, the king of Caria, who was said to have brought up the monster Chimera, as revenge for the death of his sons Atymnius and Maris, who were slain at Troy.

Bellerophon mounted Pegasus, his white winged horse born of Medusa and Poseidon, and flying high into the air, he was able to force the Chimera to take refuge underground, with the force of his bow and arrows.”

After the fire fields, we walked down towards the ruins of Olympus city and the village of Çirali, looking for a place to eat lunch.
We walked along the beach road, where most guesthouses and restaurants were located.
We stopped in a market and bought some sausages to feed Peggy the dog.
Other scary street dogs threatened Peggy, and this time it was our turn to protect her from the dogs.
I chased away the dogs and even fed them some of the sausages I bought.

While we ate our late lunch, Peggy sat by the door of the restaurant waiting for us.
She followed us back to the guesthouse, and followed us as we went to eat dinner, always waiting outside until we finished.
Even now, as I write this, Peggy sleeps outside the door of our cabin.

I do not know what will happen tomorrow, when it is time for us to leave Çirali for Antalya.
She is a big dog, and local people seemed not to see how sweet she is.
They only see her size and are afraid of her.
When we walked through town, even though they could see that she was not an aggressive dog, they eyed her with suspicion.

I truly wish she will find a loving home…
She is so sweet and truly deserves to be cherished loved….
I find myself so concern for my beloved Peggy…
How quickly do we fall in love….

With love and blessings,
Tali

Today’s Stats:
Walking time 7 hours
Active walking time 5 hours
Steps 25,695
Kilometers walked 19

Overnight in the remote fishing village of Çıralı

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