I was awake before the sky had begun to start turning lighter but there was no chance of being able to roll over and drop back off. So I was up and at it and before my tent had been broken down and my bag packed there was enough light to be able to differentiate the eastern and western skies. By the time the sun had made its appearance I was already a good five miles down the road.
The going was good until around 9AM. I stopped in at a gas station, bought some water, and sat there for about ten minutes. Less than a mile up the road I parked myself in the shade in a field for about ten more. A little past ten I made my way to a roadside restaurant. I had gozleme peynirli and buyuk su (large water). Bread and cheese have always been traveling staples and I could imagine Paul and crew eating something similar to the grilled pita stuffed with feta cheese that was my gozleme.
Most of my morning walk was filled with farms or grazing land for sheep. I am positive it would not nearly have been as tame in their day and I wonder what opportunities there would have been for hunting or foraging. For that matter, would they have had any encounters with wild animals like mine yesterday? Feral dogs would have been an issue even back then but were there wolves in these mountains? What about bears? I don’t care how large a traveling party is, before the advent of firearms, a violent encounter with a bear was sure to leave casualties.
Wild animals aside, if there was a Roman road connecting Pergia and Pisidian Antioch, the biggest danger on this journey would have been bandits. If there was a road there also would have been Roman patrols but I have been walking these mountains long enough to recognize he futility of that. Hunting bandits in these hills would have been like hunting Apache in the American Southwest. Good luck.
Back from that rabbit trail to my brunch at the roadside restaurant. I milked it as long as I could but by almost eleven it was clear that I had overstayed my welcome. I paid and headed off again. Now I wasn’t walking to put miles on the road so much as to find a place to camp for the afternoon. I had decided the night before to try and walk for about five hours than break during the hottest part of the day and continue on after four or so until it was time to pack it in for the night. Just outside the town I was in, Ortukay, I found a spot that had clearly been used by campers before. There was a fire pit, plenty of shade, and a tent size slab of concrete I put to good use.
Within minutes of setting it up, I was asleep. Perhaps ten minutes later I was waking up in a pool of sweat. The incomplete shade above was not enough to prevent my tent from turning into a sauna. I grabbed my pancho/blanket, abandoned the tent, and napped in the shade. For the next few hours I slept some, read some, and prayed some. I have been keeping my phone off to conserve battery for emergencies so unless I ask, I have no way of telling time but I guess it was around 4:00-4:30 when I packed up and moved out. My morning walk was mostly straight and flat and slightly uphill. My evening walk was curvy and seriously uphill. I have moved from the plains, past the foothills, and into the mountains proper. Now I am eating gozleme again at a restaurant in my target town for today. Right before coming to this town I walked a good half mile through a tunnel. Before entering it I was able to look back and look down on some earlier peaks that had seemed so daunting. I am beyond exhausted. In the past forty-eight hours I have walked a pair of marathons. I am also encouraged. I can do this.