Day 5 – Kale Tepe and Isparta

Day 5 – Saturday – July 16, 2011

So Saturday was going to be the day.  The day we climb the mountain to explore the ruined fortress on top of Kale Tepe.  I had been there once before and while only ’30 minutes away’ it really is a treacherous road.  In fact its not even a road.  The road takes you to a dirt road which takes you to a dirt path which takes you to a clearing (which is just for fire safety up on the mountain) and only an SUV can make it up and then just barely.  When we get ‘near’ the top they let us out and we climb the rest of the way.

It really is a mountain and we are high up so sunscreen is a must as well as a hat and plenty of water.  While I have been drinking enough(ish) – I knew that today I would need to bring my 2 Liter water bag that gets strapped to my back.  Last year I brought 2 pairs of shoes – my high tops and boots – this year I have been wearing my boots everyday and today was the day it would be needed the most.  Earlier in the week the Minister of Culture’s Representative, who from now on I am going to refer to as the Representative, was up on the mountain and a snake hit her in the thigh.  It didn’t bite her but she had some irritation and they took her to the hospital just in case.  I like my heavy black steel toe boots.  I made sure to tuck my pants into them and I sprayed my legs down with bug spray to avoid any ticks.  A few days ago Bert was up on the mountain and he saw a snake as well but it ran from him (he also saw a rabbit).  Bert is good but he wasn’t ready with a camera so all we have is a good story.

Last year I overpacked for up on the mountain – brought video gear, still gear, panorama gear.  This year I packed light to do more.  I brought 2 lenses the camera and that’s it.  It was sunny so I knew I wouldn’t need a tripod.

They took us up in two trips – I went in the second which gave me a few more minutes to get ready and also let the Turkish students get ready.  Bilge had something special planned for me.  The fortress is very much a ruin – there are two large structures which are the gate, a long outer wall, and some other rooms.  There was more of the structure last year but due to illegal excavations one of the structures had been taken apart by treasure hunters who are not smart enough to know that they aren’t going to find anything here but some bits of broken pottery.

Bilge wanted Uygar to take me and Bert to photograph the entire outer wall.  Ideally we might be able to build some sort of orthgraphic image out of it but it was enough to just keep following it and shooting.  This was going to be especially exciting because the wall leads all the way to the summit of the mountain which I didn’t climb to last year.

Its hard to walk when there is no path and its even harder to stay parallel to a wall when you can barely see it – sometimes it would be a stone wall – other times just natural bedrock.  It was quite warm but not too humid and I am really glad for these heavy boots.  When we got to the summit we found a man made tower of rocks and a cloth on it – we had seen this type of structure in the mountains before.  I also found a shotgun shell – so clearly people had been here since the days of the ancient Greeks.  The view was spectacular and you could see all of the other mountains, lakes, and cities for miles around.  Bert was sure that there was even MORE wall so we followed around on the other side.

Every time we saw some architectural area I would ask Uygar what it was and he would always say “It’s a room”.  After a while you really could see the ruins of the walls and the spaces that they outlined.  On the far side of the mountain Bert started to find pottery – he has a real knack for it.  I, on the other hand, seem to only find rocks or modern pottery which Uygar just laughs at and throws away.  Bert even found several larger shards that were identifiable as Hellenistic by their patterns.

We walked back to the gate and Bilge asked me to take some scientific shots of the gate for her.  Because their work is ongoing certain images I cannot post online.  Suffice it to say you are missing a really great panorama and some nice ruin shots.  I went through all of the shots I wanted to post with Bilge and she was gracious enough to allow me to post a panorama from the summit and several shots of the students working on the gate.  The same thing happened when we were photographing the inscriptions – if the work isn’t publishing yet – it is imperative that I don’t reveal it online first. Its funny because when I go to shoot sometimes Bilge calls out “No ART shots – just documentation!”

I thought we were done but Uygar told me that we had the entire lower wall to photograph as well.  So this time we hiked down the mountain and Bert thought he saw more wall so again we followed it around and hiked back up the mountain.  While we didn’t encounter any snakes (or rabbits) my shoes were covered with sticky burs and stuff – some of them were starting to poke their way into my shoes.  We stopped and looked down to see just volumes of material caked in and around our shoes.  We knew it would be suicide to take our shoes off and just pulled out the offensive stuff until later. Bert told me that next time it was important to tuck in my shoe laces as well as my pants!

Uygar (who is quite the taskmaster) hiked us some more and then stopped me to tell me that according to his GPS we had hiked over 3miles up and down and around the mountain (that has no trails!).  We took another break and joined the other students back at the gate.  All the Turkish students smoke and its funny in the heat to watch them all light up.  They are there taking careful measurements and drawings.  Later in the week a group of German students are coming to do even more advanced measuring (with even bigger toys).

The mountain is an interesting place.  Its very sunny and when the breeze comes in it can feel quite cool – which is VERY dangerous as it is still very very sunny.  I drank my entire 2 liters of water and I wasn’t even up there all day.

Then there are the bugs.  You can’t avoid em – they are everywhere.  I really like the crickets and grasshoppers.  They don’t scare me and they make a neat kinda rhythm when you are out there.  Also they kind of herald your arrival as you walk they tend to leap and jump out of your way.  Now the flying things are a different story.  I don’t think they are used to seeing people on the mountain – they don’t really try and attack you but they like to circle you a few times for good measure.  They come in all different shapes and sizes and I joked that the big and low pitched ones would circle clockwise while the little high pictured ones counter-clockwise.  Combined with the clicking of the crickets it was just a symphony of insects.  In reality its the little bugs that scare me the most – the big ones are easy to see and easy to hear and I just feel I can hold my own if push came to shove (yes I know its just a bug).  The bug pictures are crazy though – when you see the size and shape and color of some of these things! Even with my lenses I had to get pretty close for some of the pictures.

There was also the issue of the flowers.  I wouldn’t call these flowers delicate – big spikes and thorns!  When you see the gallery I hope you are reminded of the opening sequence of “Little House on the Prairie” except if you fell down you would just come up covered in thorns and burns and … nothing soft and lush about the ground – its a very rugged terrain and you really need to be ready for it. One thing that really stood out was the smell of a certain yellow flower – it was a very strong citrus smell almost like a lemon but it was more ambient than concentrated and while I think it was the yellow flower I was never sure which exact flower it was.  There was also the black moss – was it burnt? Was is always that way?  Curious.

After a few hours on the mountain they picked us up and took us back to the field house.  Most of the Turkish students stayed but Bert and I had done what we came to do.  I think we spent over an hour taking apart our shoes and socks and pants trying to get all the burs and sticky things off. I know that I found some in my bed later that night – they are TINY but very dangerous.

Since we had a few hours to kill I asked Bert if he wanted to take the bus into Isparta for a little bit.  Bilge said we could go but since it was Saturday night to make sure we were back for dinner because we were going to barbeque!  Meat – glorious meat!  Bert was a good sport in coming with me to the mall but I don’t think his heart was really in it – it was more about looking quickly and leaving – not that I really needed anything.  I discovered that the mall has REALLY nice massage chairs and its 5 minutes or 1Lira but I just tried it and left – I will do a longer session when I am alone. Like dropping 20 Lira in it!

I went to see if my friend from last year at the waffle place was still there and found that the waffle place had turned into a kiosk and the guy I know wasn’t working it.  The mall still has an ice-skating rink which I think is very funny.  I headed upstairs to the movie theater to find that they were indeed showing Harry Potter!! In Turkish though – so I need to head to Istanbul if I want to see it in English.

After our short trip to the mall we went next store to the grocery store.  Truth be told I wasn’t very hungry – while I really could use some meat I have been getting plenty of everything else and I wasn’t going to buy bread or cheese or olives.  It was nice looking at the rows of baklava and Turkish delight but in the end we just got some cold water and headed out.

There is a park right outside the mall and grocery store and they were selling cotton candy and this weird sort of spiraled potato on a stick thing.  I couldn’t help myself and they took a raw potato – spiral sliced it – placed it on a stick and then deep fried it.  It was oh so yummy good.  He had salt for it or taco seasoning which he said was spicy – he called it “Mexican Fire” though when I looked at the bottle it looked kinda regular to me.

We hopped the bus back (we just missed it and had to wait almost an entire hour) and were just in time for the barbeque.  The Turkish students who spent the rest of the day up on the mountain were SO dark and red.  One of the students was just completely burnt and they were joking that he was darker than one of the other students (who didn’t come up on the mountain).  I was very amused at how jovial they were about this and thinking to myself how you really wouldn’t go “hey – now you are darker than she is” (which was almost the exact quote) to someone in the US.  What worried me was that they students were going to be going up again during the week and a couple looked REALLY burnt.

Paul was pointing out that the grill didn’t have a lid so that the food would get charred and cold instead of medium and warm.  I enjoyed watching them use a fan to keep the coals hot.  We ate in stages of chicken and kefta (spiced meatballs).  Everything was very flavorful and moist.  The chicken and the kefta came pre-seasoned so I have no idea what was in it.  We ended with watermelon.  And gasp – it had seeds – how quickly we forget!

This ends my adventure on the mountain – there are a lot of pictures (sorry) and one killer panorama!

Sunday is our day off and each of us gets to try and decide what adventure we want to have – my goal is to get the Hamam in Isparta – I don’t just need a massage – we haven’t had hot water here since… well we haven’t had water here – I need a bath bad!

Images from Day 5 (also read the captions!)
(click here if you don’t see the image thumbnails)

PANORAMA: View from the Summit of Kale Tepe