THE TURKISH ROMANCE FLYING TRIP

Hi everybody!

We got to know each other here in Turkey the last fall. Me Olivier Laugero, photographer and paragliding instructor in Chamonix, France. And me, Elena Dmitrievskaya, pilot from Russia, paragliding gypsy kinda style.

Here we are in Turkey to cross the country from its West to the East. Using the way of bivouac flight when weather conditions are suitable or hitch-hike those kilometers under the grey skies.

If you look at the map of Turkey on the way between Denizli, SW of the country, and Irani boarder on the East it is evident to see that landscape is quite various. You have to pass beautiful mountain ranges up to 2800m, cross high plateaus and fly over big flatlands..

sunset flight from babadagweb

2nd-6th of May

Merhaba Antalya! (hello in english)

First difficulties…ATM ate Olivier’s credit card and I have a trouble with my visa. Only one month of staying for russians and it’s not enough. Sorted out those things though not like expected them to be done and headed off to Olüdeniz.

Beautiful place to be and practise freestyle. Met a lot of friends from different parts of  the world and spent two days fixing and testing our new gear. Mmmm…such a wonderful harnesses we’ve got from Sup’Air! Ultra light prototypes of XC cocoons for Red-Bull X-Alps 2011. We’re really lucky to get them ahead of time for our trip. People around are impressed as much as we are, kinda envy even and everyone wants the same now.

Managed to pack all in it! Sleeping bags, mats, trekking poles, tent, stove with pots and minimum of water and food enough for 2-3 days. Working pretty well!

Incredibly beautiful sunset flight! Smooth 1700m glide from Babadag mountain towards colours of the sea dressed up with the rays of westering sun. Amazing feeling of freedom! And most positive feedback about gear!

Felt so good to handle my Skywalk Cayenne-3 straight away after take off! Very responsive on turns and dives into spiral as a rocket. Very happy! Olivier also enjoys his Skywalk Poison-3. He’s already done few big XC flights with it around Chamonix.

So all is ready and just perfect!

7th-13th of May

Gidelim Pamukkale! Which is lets go to Pamukkale and catch the last day of Russian Open 2011. Unlucky with a weather conditions competitors had only three tasks flowen. So we brought them another day to race, lol!

Talking with a meet director of the competition Semih Sayir and tandem pilot from Olüdeniz Murat gave us a couple of bright ideas about our route. Window’s open! Adventure started!

Weak day after heavy rains, short trek on GPS. Don’t feel pity at all as just happy to be in the sky again and share some time in thermics with old friends of mine following their last task of the event.

Well…two options are in front of us now. To hike kinda back to the other Pamukkale take off at Çokelez village or to keep going straight and reach the feet of the big snow mountain across the valley and climb it next day. And of course we go forward! Forecast seems perfect for the next couple of days. Big thanx to Dave Hanning, supporter of american team at previous and coming race of Red-Bull X-Alps for his every day weather updates.

First bivouac night. Nice! Hiking up Honaz mountain was beautiful though not that easy as it seemed from the bottom. Pine trees forest is full of spring mushrooms, dizzy smells of mountain plants, lovely bird’s singing greets from everywhere around. Friendly locals whose hospitality impresses…just have no words to describe how amazing it was! Especially watching the sky with high streets of the clouds forming on it and looking forward to fly.

But once the top of the ridge was reached we realised we can’t take off today. Wind was blowing to the North Face and it didn’t make any sence for us…perhaps just to glide down. So we camp tonight and expect to take off tomorrow from the South Face.

But NO! Morning started from the visit of army officers and it was clear for us that we gonna miss one more good day to fly. Military zone is not a joke and army guys prooved it. We’ve been almost crying in jandarma’s van on the way down to the valley looking at the higher than yesterday cloud base and tempting streets of cumulus. What to do!? C’est la vie!

Yeah, it’s sad! But never give up, ah! Heading off back to Pamukkale with a mission to find a way besides a taxi to reach Çokelez mountain. Next day is the last one with so-so conditions to fly before the rains start again.

released from army and hitch-hiking back to pamukkaleweb

We’re on the top of 1700m heap. Partook a hospitality of Ahmet, the watchman of the mountain to preserve the fire. This guy treated and feeded us as his family members! Amazing turkish people!

Low base next morning, quite dull skies, nothing promised anything good for a day. Pretty late take off. Tricky at the beginning especially for Olivier, but such a  cool flight after! Surfing between the clouds, spiralling down from time to time to escape to be soaked. Wow! But silly mistake of mine in 20km and we’re at the middle of the fields.

Caught a tractor full of farmers to get a lift to the village. Funny retrieval! Immidiately were invited by the group of friendly young guys to spend a night at their’s. Great! And plan is to hike nearest to Beilevi village mountain tomorrow though chance to fly is quite doubtful. Inshallah!

Another amusing transfer to the take off on the tractor. Sky is too cloudy and seems rain gonna start soon. No point to wait long. And nowhere to fly actually! Half an hour soaring and we land as close as possible to the road to hitch-hike 180km away to Burdur. Gonna chill out for sometime over there as forecast promises rains next 3-4 days. Next take off point should be around Eğridir most probably.

See you soon!

14th-17th of May

Was nice to have a rest in Burdur and get all everyday things done. Though it becomes too much of the city in a couple of days and we’ve begun itching to escape it. Güle-güle Burdur! (bye-bye!)

It’s number 4 of much the biggest lakes of Turkey in Eğridir. Its beauty tempted to spend more time in this fantastic place expecting a good day to fly out, but discourse with locals about daily weather conditions and own brief observation leaded us to find another place for the next launch. It’s too windy always over here, good for kitesurfing!

Davraz mountain is a good option to begin. We can hike at least unless the forecast is fine. There’s a ski station on the way between Eğridir and Isparta, can be a nice place to hide if it rains.

Weather didn’t improve much as it was expected. Strong north winds are there up in the mountains. Heading towards Beyşehir after awesome hike. Another 180km to go! Lol! Looks like we’re having a lake voyage! Beyşehir gölü (lake) is the 3rd biggest lake in the country!

Place is familiar. We flew in Beyşehir last September during XC Turkey 2010. 142 and 107 km flights of Pal Takats and Elena all team remembers. We gonna try luck at its launch again!

Boo! Six-o’clock wind on the take off! Pity to hike 4hrs and probably get nothing! But be ready and wait for the cycle to jump in! It will come, for sure! All your nature’s connected to the one around! Monstrous power!

And window’s there! Come on! Get it!

Beautiful! We’re under the base! Lake, mountains, mellowly green fields and spots of the rain around! Finally in the sky! Like come back home…

We did our best at these slow conditions taken off quite late in the afternoon. But was amazing anyway! To be in the sky again! 30km in 3hrs result of the day!

here we goweb

 

Now what?! Karaman! The place where Turkish cross-country record for paragliding was broken in June 2010 by French pilot Patrick Andre. During pre-release version of XC Turkey 2010 he’s flown 262km from Karaman to Kayseri on his Niviuk Icipeak!

 

Nice to be back, good feeling. Night in the city hotel as Olivier wrenched the ligaments of his leg while hiked to Beyşehir take off and needs some rest. Next day promises to be flyable and we have to be at volcano Karadağ by noon. Otherwise it gets too windy to take off afterwards. Another 20km to hitch-hike to this awful mountain domineering over the endless fields.

We were into a great luck at Kilbasan village which is just in front of the foot of Karadağ mountain to meet a head of local administration who remembers all XC Turkey 2010 team and was so happy to do a kindness for us and drop to the launch. So we reached perfectly in time! Teşekkürler boss! (thanx)

 

One more weak day! Low base and flimsy thermals. Might be coming from afar storm pushes all the activity to break up. We’re struggling anyway! Here’s flock of storks to inspire us! Beautiful airy-fairy birds! Awesome! Great to work together with such an experts!

 

Well…we didn’t fly long. Landed allof from each other and made an appointment at Karapinar. Around 80km to hitch-hike across plain yellow (strange for the colour in spring) flatlands after just 20km flight. Phew!

 

But we’ve met much earlier. Olivier was invited for the lunch by hospitable locals as landed close to the village and me had to walk few km along infinite series of the fields unless I’ve seen him in the central crossroad.

The lift we’ve got was an epic! Two easy-going guys Şeref and Mahmud – collectors of the milk in nearest villagers made a brief tour of turkish rural culture for us. That’s what you fly XC for as well! Little adventure allows you to see an actual conditions of local living.

 

We changed a plan a bit! Instead of going to Karapinar’s launch we shake down for the night before Aksaray city and find a way to reach the foot ofHasan Dağ (Mountain) next day – 3280m snow-capped giant.

18th-24th of May

Didn’t expect the place we slept is so unique. Though all is unique around!

Huge field in the centre of industrial area…so gorgeous! Birds…swarms of them! Pink flamingos, white and black storks, grey herons, cuckoos etc. Dozens of turtles on the bank of stinking rivulet were dropping like bombs from the fighter plane when they heard steps of humans. We’ve got stuck over there till lunch time, was impossible to pass quickly!

And then it was impossible for a few hours to leave truck drivers place where we stopped for the lunch. So tasty and cheap food we’ve got over there, interesting people we’ve met and pleasant hot shower we’ve taken! Of course they gave a lift afterwards which made it easier for us to reach the foot of Hasan Mountain from its South Face.

Rain stopped and there’s no necessity to sleep in the village. We’ll explore it tomorrow as it usually takes time to meet locals due to their endless hospitality. Meanwhile lovely campsite in the middle of farm fields. Iyi geceler! (good night)

 

We’re lucky lately to get support of local administartion. Typical turkish breakfast at their’s (veg, olives, eggs, bread & chai) and we go to hike around without gear. Ridges of Hasan Dağ don’t look steep, so we need to find a suitable launch for tomorrow.

Wow! AMAZING TURKISH PEOPLE ! ! ! Meeting a big-big happy-happy family of farmers up in the mountains we’ve got so much at once! Fun donkey ride, healthy lunch and lodging for the night! Take off donkey transfer was promised next early morning as well.

9 o’clock in the morning! We’re on the half way to the launch with one horse, one donkey and two young brothers. But we won’t fly today. Unfortunately! Top is covered with grey clouds, thunder is heard and few spots of coming storms are not too far around

on the way to the top of hasan mountainweb

Hmmm…Dave’s forecast updates are depressing as well. Weather gets better by beginning of June only. What’re we gonna do?

Few options actually! To be optimistic and head off to Erzincan where prePWC starts on 28th of May. To stay over there with friends and participate probably if weather improves. To organize some entertainment program to the first biggest lake of Turkey – Van, lol. Both ends are 600 and 1200 km. But we chose the simplest one! We’re going back to Europe. Friends fly more than 200km around Chamonix and we envy! We came here to fly, but just five flights in three weeks almost are not enough to satisfy our big XC hunger!

You might say we gave up! But time we spent here in Turkey was just amazing! Humanities of local people, beauty of nature and those little flights will never be forgotten! And we’ll be back! Soon!

Thanks everyone to make it happen!