Saturday, 8 September 2007

A monster story and a spot of skiing!!

Originally posted on 6th September 2007...

The only thing I knew about the geography of eastern Turkey - until today - was that the volcano, Mt Ararat, associated with the Biblical story of Noah's ark, is located close to the border with Iran. If you look very closely, you can just about pick out its snow capped summit close to the white line which is the border. Mark will be passing that way on Saturday and I plan to find out a whole lot more about Mt Ararat before then. Today's GPS fix, however, locates him slightly further west........ some 50 miles to the north of Lake Van, Turkey's largest lake. Wikipedia has quite a lot of interesting material on Lake Van and amongst the facts related is a story which makes me think of the Loch Ness Monster. The following comment could equally apply to our national monster! "Skeptics point out that the region would benefit from tourist revenue and a hoax might attract visitors" .

It was while I was having a closer look at Lake Van that I spotted another circular white blob on its north side.....An even closer look reveals a crater and the traces of old lava flows. So here is another volcano but which one? 'Lake Van + volcano' in Google produced the answer . The volcano is Mount Suphan, at 4434m (13000ft) the second highest mountain in Turkey. Snow accumulates on the summit up to depths of 3metres in winter and feeds a number of small glaciers. As a consequence, it is a popular spot for heliskiing!

The other interesting bit of geography which the aerial view of Suphan reveals is the intensive arable farming on its flanks. There is little cultivation in the region - except here where the fertile volcanic soils support it.

To gain a really good impression of Mark's journey through Turkey so far, you could look at the gallery of photos which has just been uploaded today over on the Artemis web site. Click on 'gallery', 'on the road' and '4th album'. I like this one.... it must be reassuring to know you're in the right country!

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