I am sitting outside Mustafa’s modest house. His wife has just made my dinner of fish and rice. I’ve offended his youngest daughter Daria by asking if she was 8 years old when she is,in fact 14
Tomorrow Mustafa ferries me across the lake I hope he doesn’t tip me out half way.
I toyed with the idea of cheating and thumbing a lift here but am proud to say I walked all the way.
Proud because it was hell of a trip
I met the first local to have heard of St Paul’s trail. He led me through gardens and hillside paths to the first wayside marker.
I was humbled by his kindness – until he asked for money
I think this will become increasingly common if the trail gets more popular
At the moment most locals just invite you in for chai or milk and refuse any payment. That’s bound to change.
The climb out of Barla was murderously steep.
I saw my first Griffon Vulture ominously circling above me.
But what freaked me out was the sound of dogs in the distance
I approached a shepherd’s hut in the hills. As I rounded a curve I saw one of those huge bloody sheepdogs lying on the track. luckily it was asleep.
Mindful of the advice never to get between a dog and its flock I backed away and gave it a wide berth. About 1km to be precise. The detour took me over rocks and scree but I didn’t care. Then i heard another dog barking in the valley.
I didn’t stop until I’d pint three hills between us.
The trail was maddening. At times wonderfully way marked…at other times nothing
The GPS really came into its own today
Even so I fell over 4 times coming down the mountain track.
The only words I uttered all day were various combinations of 4 letter ones.