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These pages document my time spent flying balloons in Kapadokya . . .
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Chapter 14
A Short Walk
Holed up in the house getting this narrative caught up and not flying for a couple of days had me pretty antsy. The weather was rather drab and overcast and not really the best to take photographs, but I needed to get out and do something, so I decided I would take a walk around and scope out photo opportunities for when the light was better (I did take my camera, just in case) . The first place I went was to the NW side of the castle to figure out a way to get down to where I could get a shot through the hole in the rock that has appeared in some of my previous photos. The good news is I found a way. I didn't bother with trying to get a shot right then, as I figured there would be plenty of opportunity with better light. Not content to walk around the village, I headed out toward the Pigeon Valley trailhead. I had all afternoon so I decided I would at least take the trail a little ways and see what it was like. The first thing I noticed was that the ground was much softer than I thought it would be. One of the reasons this area has the underground cities and troglodyte dwellings is that the rock is soft. The eight or ten inches of snow that was on the ground when I got here has also melted, so in places the trail was downright muddy. Not a problem except for some inclines, which of course is the first thing I have to do is scramble down the side of the valley. The next thing I noticed was that the "trail" really isn't a marked specific pathway through the valley. There are several worn paths to follow and of course most of them are also the way the water finds it's way down. In summer it wouldn't be a problem, but this time of year I had to watch my footing.
The first item of interest along the way
Inside the first one I came upon
Looking out from inside the first one
I'm about halfway down the side of the valley when I notice a rock sticking out with a hole in it. I decide to try and make my way over to it and look inside. Well, to my surprise, I can walk right inside! Cool! It's pretty small, so I snap a few pictures and head further down into the valley.
The first rock I went in, taken from the bottom of the valley
I didn't really know what to expect or how far or how long I was going to follow the valley (I had only seen the valley from the west rim) . I know that you can take it all the way into Göreme, but I knew I wasn't going to go that far. For one thing, Göreme is about 300 ft. lower, so it's quite an uphill walk home from there. Once I get down to the bottom of the valley, the trail is much clearer (though it may not be in the spring and summer with the vegetation and trees) and I kept turning my head from side to side to look at all the doors and windows cut into the walls of the canyon.
Another Tolkien like dwelling
A hillside full of openings
Yes, I climbed the ladder
I soon came to a very large feature on the east wall of the valley. I recognize it from some of the photos I've taken from the west rim. (See Chapter 10, the first set of 4 images, at the very bottom of the far left image) . I walk over to see how close I can get to it.
The ruins I recognized from standing on the west rim of the valley
The view as I got closer
It looks like I can get in!
As I get closer, I notice an opening that looks like I can get to. I scramble up the hill side, and sure enough I can get to that large opening at the bottom right of the photo on the right above. I peer inside . . .
The view when I first looked inside
Wow! It looks very large! I think I can get in here! I climb into the opening and walk back towards the darkness. As I approach what I thought would be the end of the cave, I look to my left . . .
WOW! INCREDIBLE! ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!
I couldn't believe what I saw when I got to the back wall
Needless to say, I wasn't expecting to see what I saw. This place was huge! I was in awe. I couldn't believe this place. I must have spent half an hour in here, just walking back and forth through the 3 rooms and connecting halls. Except for the exterior wall, all the other walls were filled with those square pigeon holes. I also have to apologize for some of the pictures being out of focus. It was pretty dark, and without a tripod for the camera, it's next to impossible to hold the camera still enough for the necessary long exposure. But at least you get an idea of what it was like inside.
Different rooms of the ruins
I probably could have spent most of the day just looking around this one area of ruins, but I didn't start this excursion until the afternoon, so I only had a few hours. I decided to see if there were any more places like this (with multi rooms) , that I could get into. So reluctantly, I exited the ruins, but before I carefully made my way back down the hillside to the trail at the bottom of the valley, I noticed I could get around to the back side of these ruins. Hoping I could get into some different rooms, I walked the treacherous path to the other side. The wet hillsides were pretty slick and fairly steep, but I was motivated.
As I made my way around to the back side, I was hoping I could get in up there
The back of the very top of the ruins
One last look up before I leave
I think during the summer, or at least when the ground is drier, I could have made my way to a lot more places, but you can see how steep the hill was in the photo above. Anywhere that there wasn't vegetation, was muddy and very slick. So I couldn't get in any other places in this ruin, but I got a great view of Uçhisar from here and there was still the rest of the trail to explore!
The view of SE Uçhisar from the back of the ruins
Finally down to the valley floor, I made my along the path, wondering at each opening that I couldn't get to, what lay behind. Not much further, looking to the west side, I noticed a hotel. It is the same hotel (the Kaya Hotel) that I've walked past many times as I strolled along the road taking pictures of the valley and Mt.Erciyes. All I've ever seen of the hotel (besides the sign along the road) before now, was it's roof, which is just below the road. It looks a lot nicer from inside the valley.
The Kaya Hotel as seen from the floor of Pigeon Valley
Soon, I see a large opening to my right. It's actually a bit lower than where I am. I walk over and see what appears to be a large cave. It is in the streambed that drains the valley, but there isn't very much water flowing and it looks like I can get in there. Sure enough, not only can I get in, but I see a light way back towards the back. I think I can walk completely through and come out on the other side! Which is exactly what I did. There was more than one place to exit the cave, but I took the last one I thought I could get to easily.
Entrance to cave
Cave entrance as seen from inside the cave
Just one of the many exits available to me. This is not the one I took
The exit I took
The hill that the cave went under. Bottom right of photo is the exit that the photo from inside shows
For a walk to just look for photo opportunities for another day, this turned out to be quite the experience. It was starting to get on the late side of the afternoon and the sun goes down early this time of year, so I headed further down the valley, trying not to be distracted by every feature I saw. Pigeon Valley starts to the south of Uçhisar and runs to the east of the village before opening up into the main valley that the village of Göreme is in. I was hoping that as I got to Uçhisar that I would be able to find a way up the hillside to the house. The house that we're now staying in is actually very near the castle and pretty much at the top of the rock, so I still had quite a climb ahead of me.
A couple of frescoes spotted along the way
A close up of the top frescoe
Zoomed in on the lower frescoe
I could spot the very familiar and distinctive rock formations of lower east Uçhisar and knew I was getting close, so I started looking for a way up the hill. 
The distinctive and familiar formations of lower east Uçhisar
I chose a path between the two rocks in the foreground
As I picked my way through lower east Uçhisar, trying not to go through peoples houses, there were still some good photos to be had. 
More pigeon holes thru a pigeon hole
The ancient window makes a perfect frame for the spire
One of the few photo's of myself.
As I climbed past the large landmarks I quickly got into the village proper. As I did, I noticed this house with a painting on the side of it. I can see this house from our "deck" and had taken a photo of it when we first moved in. Not much further was a house with its front door painted real fancy.
I recognize this house!
The same house as seen from our "deck"
I was struck by the fancily painted door on this house
After some two and a half hours, I was back home. That was quite the "short little" walk! It had just started to lightly rain right before I got to the house, so I put the camera away and took a nice long hot shower!
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