BD athlete Jacqui Edgerly reports on a ski trip to Turkey
Black Diamond athlete Jacqui Edgerly went on a late-season ski adventure trip to Turkey in April. Below is her trip report and photos.
I received an email shortly after returning back home from the Finals in Snowbird about a ski trip to Turkey with Leah Evans, Sarah Frood and photographer Gabe Rogel. Skiing in Turkey…I’ve never really heard about that! What could it possibly be like? Sure...why not, sounds like an adventure?! Our itinerary was pretty vague, rent a van (more like a 23 passenger bus, with a driver) and go explore the Kackar Mountains, possibly ski some volcanoes and the Palandoken ski resort.
We wound our way up towards the Kackar Mountains, in our huge bus looking like the super tourists. Along the way we passed through tiny farming villages scattered with beautiful terraced gardens, cattle roaming the fields and fruit trees in full bloom. We received many wide eyes and confused looks as we stopped for restroom and tea breaks. We climbed higher and higher up the canyon, the road narrowed and the thought of driving off the side of the cliff was hard to free from the mind as our driver accelerated with every curve. He seemed to experience the same thrill driving fast on these gnarly roads, as we do from skiing big lines. The rain came down in full force turning the road into a slip and slide. We blasted through the snow banks and rallied through the mud. After six long hours we arrived at a small family lodge, our base for the next week.
Looking out the window in the morning, all jet lagged and groggy, it was hard to motivate with the fog and slush falling from the sky and the grass on the ground, little did we know what was hiding behind the clouds. We were all pretty restless and in need of some exercise, we unpacked and put on our skis. As we gained some elevation the clouds thinned and the mountains revealed themselves. Gorgeous! The Kackar Range peaked through the mist and cloud. It felt like we were in Alaska as the mountains shot up into the sky!! We were instantly filled with excitement…our opportunities were endless. We were hooting and hollering as the sun came out and the blue skies opened up. These few days were going to be a blast.
We were lucky enough to have the sun continue to shine for the majority of our stay. We woke up early, attempting to beat the warm temperatures, toured from the lodge wherever the day took us. For the most part we had to keep our days pretty conservative considering the spring heat. We ended up roasting and skiing mashed potatoes! It was sloppy, just a little taste of heaven! We came back completely sun burnt and beat and would head straight for a nap. We would wake up to feast on the most amazing, freshly cooked, full course Turkish meals, joke around with the lodge family with our excellent Turkish and pass-out shortly after. Not a bad first week in Turkey, we were all a bit hesitant to leave the hidden paradise, but we figured there was more to see and time to move on.
With the help of Google Maps and a kind man at our hotel in Kars we decided to drive north to a mountain that looked like it still had a reasonable amount of snow. We were told that there was a hostel close by that was right on the lake. We showed up at a derelict, blue and rusted building. We stepped out of the van expecting for it to be all locked up. Gabe pushed, the door opened and the smell of diesel and rotten fish flowed into our nostrils. Muffled voices came trickling through the crack. Hmm...Guess this place is open? Next thing we knew, we were eating fish in the restaurant upstairs. We went to bed with the sounds of ravens and a jail cell door in the background, hoping to wake up to sunshine and a 6am breakfast.
Bluebird! We arrived at the end of a road in a little village at the base of the mountains. The village people all stared at us as if we were aliens from another planet. They were all up busy with their morning activities, herding their sheep, shoveling shit, and feeding the animals. While we were packing up our bags all the baby sheep were let out for their morning feed…so cute! We even got to hold a little guy. We made our way up the hill with the whole village gathered together on the bridge with eyes wide open. It was a gorgeous day for a hike! We walked up in the sunshine overlooking a beautiful lake and mountains in the distance. Regardless of the thin snow pack and brown ice we found a couple fun wind lips and soft snow. It was like painting with your skis when the brown revealed itself in the turns. As we got to the bottom of snowline we spotted three people hiking their way up. It was some guys with the army. The townspeople called shortly after we left that morning. Apparently we were in danger and lucky to not have come across the wolves. They were probably just bored and just excited to get out and do something for the day.
They were stoked to meet some Canadian and American skiers. They had only heard of this thing we call skiing. As soon as we cleaned the mud off our boots and said our goodbyes we were on our way to the Sarikamis and Paladokeon Resorts.
With no snow and the lifts shut down we decided to take a flight back and spend the last four days of our trip exploring Istanbul. What a crazy place especially for mountain folk. I found myself a number of times overwhelmed and stressed out from all the action going on 24/7. An incredible and stunning sight to see…the beautiful ancient mosques and castles, Grand and Spice Bazaar, 45-degree alleyways, hookah bars, all the time is teatime….pretty much awesome!
What an adventure it is to go get the real feel for another place. We explored some of the most beautiful country, full of life and flavor and some of the most depressing, where the people are just getting by day to day, dreaming of a better life. It all makes me appreciate how lucky we all are to have such positive and fun filled lives! Yeah, Yeah, life is good!