Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

July 24, 2011

Paragliding: Oludeniz, Turkey

I have too many hobbies.  I know this.  But each one of them is so much fun, I can't help it.  Paragliding might just be the best one of all.  My poor paragliding wing has sat mostly unused for the year I've been living in the UK.  Not because there aren't flying sites here, but because I really hate driving to a launch just to sit and wait.  Parawaiting is a national sport in the UK, as the the wind and weather just don't work out too often here.

Cue a trip down to Oludeniz, Turkey.  It might just be the best place for paragliding I've ever seen.  The weather is hot and dry and sunny, the seas are warm and clear and blue, and the winds are consistently calm.  Best of all, within a 45 minute drive of the beach is a 6500 ft mountain ridge called Babadag, which has multiple launch sites for all wind directions, and a clear view of the landing area (the beach).  I flew almost everyday, several times a day, and even got to fly next to my friend Hande during her tandem with Mahoney.  As he seems to be the only tandem pilot in Oludeniz to do Helicopters, Hande got quite a ride!   Check out the video embedded below or here!

The trip up the mountain now costs about $10 per trip for the shuttle, and another $10 (per flight) for a launch fee.  Given that I only flew once or twice a day over a week, overall it was pretty affordable compared to most paragliding tours.   Plus I got to hang out on the beach, enjoy the perfect weather, do some scuba diving, and dine on the oceanfront while watching paragliders constantly landing.  Can't be beat!

July 21, 2011

Hiking Babadag Mountain, Turkey

 On our last day of holiday in Turkey, after a week of awesome paragliding off of Babadag mountain, I determined that I needed to hike up to the launch under my own steam at least once.   I arranged for my wing to be driven up to the top, as I couldn't fathom carrying it up a vertical mile of trails, and crossed my fingers that it would actually arrive at the top before I did. 

Rob and I started out at 6 a.m. in order to stay out of the burning sun for as much as possible. On the road we found a small turtle, had a good look at it, and then moved it into the bushes where it might stay out of danger of traffic.  Less than a mile from our hotel in Oludeniz, at the east end of the beach on the road, we found the stairs marked with a Babadag sign.  From there the ascent started in earnest.  The route was marked haphazardly with green dots spraypainted on rocks, and with both of us keeping our eyes peeled for the green, we managed to stay on trail most of the time.  It was an unkempt trail for the first bit, and the sharp needles on the bushes wreaked havoc on my poor sunburned legs! 
After the section of bushwacking, we came out onto a driveable rocky trail, that led up to the Lycian Way.  This was a much wider, well-maintained trail, and not nearly as steep.  We made good time here, climbing slowly above the beach and lagoon at Oludeniz, grateful that the sun hadn't reached above the mountain yet.   We passed two stagnant cisterns but didn't need water as I had loaded myself down with quite a few litres.  We would end up needing every drop in the end, as it was hot and dry. 

About halfway up on a plateau jutting out from Babadag mountain, we crossed through a tiny village, and promptly got lost.   I had only a vague idea of how the trail carved its way up the mountain, but we could see the paragliding takeoff at 1700 meters and knew we had to eventually get there.  After a few random fields crossings we got lucky enough to see a green dot, and once we figured out which way to follow it, we were quite relieved. 
Moved a turtle off the road and back into the bushes
The trail by this point had broken off from the Lycian way, and disintigrated back into merely a trail of green dots through unbroken scrub bushes.  We carefully and slowly picked our way up the sharp granite rocks, and lost the trail again, getting distracted by a faint goat trail.   Since the trail wasn't much better than anything else, we didn't sweat it too much, and started angling over to where we thought the trail had to go.   It took quite a while to find it, and in the meantime we were scratching ourselves quite a bit in the low scrub trees and loose rocks. 

Once back on the trail, again, it seemed to get even steeper and less maintained, and the last mile was just a sweaty scramble up loose dirt and rocks.  Luckily the trees were finally tall enough here to give some shade, but by then we were hot, tired, and running out of water.
It ended up taking 5 1/2 hours to go 7 miles to the paragliding takeoff, and we were quite grateful to rehydrate with soda from the shop overlooking the launch area.   The 7 miles included a vertical mile of climbing, from sea level all the way up to 5600 feet! 
I must say this is the worst trail I've ever been on.  It was diffiult to follow, steep and tricky footing, and seemed to be neverending.  The scrub was so thick at the top that views were obscured, definitely really tough. 
Since my wing was waiting for me at launch, we didn't continue up to do the last mile to the actual summit at 6500 feet.   I think if I decide to hike up again someday, I think I will go via the road, as at least it's a nice hike up through pine forests rather than cactus scrub.  Either way, the views from the top are definitely worth it, and it was much more fun to paraglide back down over the mountain rather climb up it. 

A map and description of this torturous route can be found here.

The launch area and Babadag peak

The blue lagoon of Oludeniz

The spine of Babadag as seen from Fethiye

July 18, 2011

Mike's BG Round - Leg 5, 15/16 July

Enough cake to feed an army!
 Well, I did a little of everything this weekend, including some kayaking, fell running, and a mountain biking session at the Gisburn Forest bike trails.  On each and every one of them, I got soaking wet from the drenching rain that seemed to fall all weekend long.  Squelching shoes and wringable rainjackets might be a novelty to desert dwellers, but splashing through puddles and singing in the rain gets old after a while.

So Mike sure picked a cruddy weekend to attempt his BG round, that's for sure.   As I was scheduled to join him on his final leg, I waited anxiously for text updates to see how the weather was affecting his round.  He had assured me beforehand that he wouldn't "throw in the towel", although on such a wet weekend a few extra ones might have been handy!?! 

Descent off Robinson with Keswick in view!
 Sure enough, he was (almost) on time and going strong through the first 4 legs, despite getting lost in the fog and wind and rain in the middle of the night atop a few peaks.   The rain made for deep bogs and waterfalls and generally miserable conditions for Mike and his supporters (including Martin on Leg 3).

I arrived at Honister Pass a bit early, in time to sample a couple of Helen's cakes and watch the slopes for the incoming runners.   Mike arrived only a few minutes behind schedule, soaking wet of course like he had been almost the whole round, and we set off quickly back up into the clouds on Leg 5.  Actually, he set off quickly, and I struggled to keep up with his quick pace up to the top of Dale Head.   I must have eaten too much cake after seeing how much was in Helen's car!  Luckily Mike had 9 other folks to keep him company until I caught up with him on the downhill.  Finally.  How embarrassing to be left behind by a guy with 55 miles and 25,000 feet of climbing already in his legs! 

Robinson  #42!
 But it was a credit to Mike's climbing ability that his round went off successfully, as the steep downhills were obviously torturing him at the end.  Remembering how much I had limped by the end of the Housman just six weeks ago, I was wincing in sympathy.   Well, Hindscarth summit passed uneventfully (with sideways rain and obscuring fog), and without further ado, we reached Robinson, the last of the 42 tops.   I seemed to have the only camera among the group, so we posed for a quick photo before making the very steep descent down to the road. 

Once at the bottom, there was a quick change into dry shoes and socks for Mike, and he donned his Dalham club vest for the final push into Keswick.  Amazingly enough, the sun came out for a few minutes, and a few intrepid runners stripped down to just their Dalham vests, although I was still happy to keep my long sleeves and raincoat on.   I felt justified when it rained a further 4 times before we finished.  :(

A big crowd was waiting at the finish, and Mike took the time to shake everyone's hand and pose for photos, although I'm sure he was only dreaming of a chair to sit down in, perhaps some dry warm clothes, and mostly his bed.  Back at the car still stuffed with cakes, we shared round a bottle of bubbly (this about did Mike in), and we all nobly tried to clean up a few containers of baked goods. 

Congrats Mike, for finishing in those awful conditions, with a time of 23:37!!!