Walking the Strawbery Ridge. Asar to Phellos. A trek on the Lycian Way.
The south coast of Turkey differs from the western Aegean coast in that while the Aegean is made up of lines of hill perpendicular to the sea, with the warm maritime air drifting up the valleys far inland, on the southern coast, the mountain run parallel to the sea, making a very sharp divide between the narrow coastal strip and the continental climate zones only 15 km inland. With the sun bleaching the south faces of the mountains, the norther faces are cooler and damper, in the Kaş area of Lycia, the southern slopes covered with spiny maquis shrubland or red pines, the northern slopes are frequently covered with Arbutus andrachne, known as the 'Strawbery Tree' due to it's red fruits and sometimes scarlet waxy bark, which forms low but impenetrable forest.
Out trek took us for the mountain meadows of Mt Asas at 1200 meters of altitude. At this height there is a mixed forest of Lebanese Cedar (Cedrus libani) Spiny Juniper ( Juniperus Oxycedrus)and various types of the 18 varieties of Oak that are found in Turkey, and the most colourful, our strawberry trees!
The cold wing of the morning quickly died off as we descended into the meadow overlooked by the Turkish Air Force's radar station. Looking like a giant water Mellon on top or the hill, it has a great vantage point, at 1350 meters above sea level. This would also be a great place for an astral observatory as the Lycian air is one of the cleanest in Turkey, and there is very little light pollution too, as I can attest to having camped up here one starry night. No wild horses today, but we did hear some blood curdling screams of a large mammal, which we would like to hope was one of the ultra critically endangered Anatolian Leopards which could live in this area. Arriving in Phellos, the hill top Lycian city we examined the newly excavated mosaic just outside the Royal enclosure ans speculated what building it was the floor of. We took in the typical house type tombs from around 400-500BC and the grand bull relief which is one of the symbols of the Lycian League, as the Lycians believed themselves to be descendants of Sarpedon, brother of King Minos of Crete, famous for the labyrinth and the Minotaur.Today we were determined to find the remains of the theatre of Phellos, destroyed to the point of oblivion, we found a theatre shape beside the northern Agora, some of the stones were definitely of theatre step shape. One day Phellos will be excavated, showing light on the way the Lycians lived, as Phellos was only lightly used during Hellenistic and Roman periods. OPut trek was 12 kms in total, finishing at the forest fire look-out station above Pınarbaşı village.