Written by | Susan Elliot
Strong in humbleness, sweet in humour, wondrous in nature and ways of life. This journey tells the story of hospitality and hearts that meet each other, coming from all cultures. Anatolia is a tapestry of cultures with an ever-changing landscape, geographically, socially, and spiritually. Susan Elliott pulling her Dixon Roller pack through this challenging terrain, without speaking Turkish, after a hip operation, camping wild and on a small budget managed to report a momentous six weeks pilgrimage on the Sufi Trail in Turkey. In May 2021, she was diagnosed with cancer for the fourth time, being resilient like a reed meant the Sufi Trail book was coming fast. This is what is in our hands, the story of a walk through life meeting the things our hearts call out for and love to share.
Traveling now on the Sufi Trail, Hadija Susan. We are enjoying the daily posts on Facebook in the Sufi Trail hiking group, there are a few images selected of the first 10 days to get an impression of this impressive hike with a Dixon roller pack. Hadjija uses GPX, the Sufi Trial guidebook, and camps in carefully selected places on the Sufi Trail. We look out for the stories and adventures on the pilgrimage to Konya.
Ramazan (who has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share) guiding me to hidden places in Aksehir
SUFI TRAIL Day 1: ISTANBUL: Hard as ended up walking 28 km. Had to let go of expectation of multiple stamps in my special trail passport as everywhere closed. Managed one stamp, but upside down! A day of contrasts of quiet beauty and frenetic crowds
SUFI TRAIL Day 2: YALOVA TO GOKCEDERE: Ferry to vibrant Yalova where over 3000 people died in 1999 earthquake. Very hot 17.8 km with total ascent of 387 km to Gokçedere. Fragrant Cistus, beautiful azan swirling around as I toiled up first big hill, family weeding a large very steep field with hand hoes, man with a gun and dog – both friendly! Very overgrown path. Bed, cold shower, fruit at Rasim Mutlu Sufi Lodge. Smudged Sufi Trail stamp in Yalova after many conversations with my language barrier and ascending 5 floors!
SUFI TRAIL Day 3: GOKÇEDERE TO GUNEYKOY: 17.9 km with 835 m ascent. Welcomed by Chevrel and her volunteers on organic smallholding. Plied with tea, bread and cheese, summer pudding and yoghurt plus homegrown hazelnuts and eggs for the journey. Ended day with very challenging, steep 4 km in dense forest. Path hidden in vegetation and would have been impossible without waymarks. Two places completely blocked, perhaps with storm debris. Got soaked with wet vegetation. Finally, found a flat place to camp just as darkness fell. Survived with just a bent hiking pole.
Extraordinary Susan pioneer and by the book, we love her dearly.
Susan is such a strong hiker. Already hiked several trails, Jordan and more. But as our first solo lady, she is something else. Wild camping pulling her Dixon roller pack. We followed her tracks, and she made the most beautiful report of the first steps on the Sufi trail. Her father was an explorer, so she knows exactly what to report. She wrote a book, survived cancer and stole our hearts. Enjoy some sneak previews of the book, and don’t forget to love it!
Discovering hidden gems in Anatolia Tracing ancient paths with my Rollerpack Me and my Dixon Rollerpack in Anatolia Anatolia, my Dixon Rollerpack, and me) “hike to the light”
SUFI TRAIL Day 38: Few km before BASARAKAVAK to LION’S HILL VILLAGE ROOM near KUCUKMUHSINE: 19 June 2019: 22.7 km with 398 m ascent and 453 m descent: At tea house in Basarakavak was gifted tea and excellent breakfast with owner while my phone charged. Easy navigation day on pleasant tracks in valley with vegetables and 🌲 at foot of barren eroded mountains. Chased by a storm which exploded around me in torrential rain and almost simultaneous lightening flashes and thunder – cringing at each flash. Literally paddled along track and grey floodwaters poured off the mountain across the track. Wet, cold, and muddy again! Rain stopped at millstone fountain. Climbed up mud track, and there was Kucukmuhsine and it’s caves in the valley. All the fountains gushing muddy water. Hurried on between the rock pillars to the 🦁 hill village guest house and Haci Haydar Sultan Tomb. Into dry clothes and miracles of blankets, gas to make sweet black coffee, and electricity to charge phone! Dinner of cheese, fresh apricots, and sunflower seeds. Storm back with wind and rain lashing hut. So happy to be inside, dry and warm.
Written by Susan Elliot
SUFI TRAIL Day 39: 🦁 HILL to SILLE: 20 June 2019: 18 km with 477 m ascent and 791 m descent: Woke several times in night. Moonlight shining through windows and illuminating the rolling mountain tops. The village deep in the valley magical with soft street lights making the houses look like lanterns. Utter peace and silence, except for predawn birdsong. Morning coffee, morning sun. First footprints of day in sticky mud. Climbing ever higher with big mud boots in tiny tree reforestation area. Panoramic views all around. Just me and the birds. At top cereal fields and huge clawed animal footprints – if 🐕 very glad not near.
At last a view of Tatkoy. Track down sheltered valley with fragrant tree blossom. Footpath above the road for part of the way. Tea in Tatkoy. No food available, but a plate of assorted breads arrived, which I devoured. All gifted to me. After Tatkoy, a small black earth mining area has a derelict building on the left which could be used as emergency storm shelter. Some confusion, as expected dirt road turned out to be newly tarred, so I ended up on an interesting GPX track (had to make a small detour to the left to get through the fence) to the wonderful surprise of beautiful Devil’s Bridge! Then into touristy Sille and very noisy Konak Hotel, but lovely room and good dinner. Desperate for sleep now. Tick bite rash ever bigger, and I really need a doctor for treatment. The big wolves are not the danger, but the little ticks!
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