On the weekends, while everyone is planning to have breakfast with their families they take to the roads early in the morning only for trekking and return home late at night. They walk to live nature freely and to be free. Members of this trekking group consisting of amateur-spirited outdoor athletes in the capital say that they use their right to love nature, to beautify their lives and to stay healthy. They walk every week to make new discoveries on a new route.
We met with Ergün Erdem, the guide of the long-distance trekking group Yeni Rota, and some members of the group at one of the official institution guesthouses in Ankara to talk about their long trekkings.
As the founder and guide of Yeni Rota long distance trekking group in the Capital, tell us about yourself.
I was born in Ankara in 1965. I met nature sports in June 1998. I came across the Ankara Oryantiring group on the internet that has started to be popular in those years. When I read the article titled “Do you want to play chess in nature? it arouses my curiosity. In this way, I joined the Ankara Oryantiring group. Oryantiring is a contest group. Starting from the begging it requires to go to all targets running. It can’t be done without good body condition. For me, that four years is the milestone of my life. I learned to use a map and compass. In addition, performing it within contest excitement while making fast decisions was an extraordinary experience for me.
Why long distance trekking?
The first essential necessity that today’s people have to meet and chase and even may not aware of is walking. Particularly when the first lights of the day come and brighten the earth slowly to find yourself as walking is to live the strongest steps of our freedom that we always chase. No one competes in the sport of trekking which is performed to become mentally healthier and to help our body to discharge energy. There is no competition. Do not look at the above sentences, which try to spiritualize the simple practice that is walking. Since I was a child I go everywhere by walking and when I started to do my walks on my spiritual need in nature I was only interested in real, natural green and blue.
How was Yeni Rota trekking group established?
I did my first trekking in February 2001 in a forest covered with snow at least one and a half meters. My exciting trekkings have continued until being the winner of the long track in the mountain marathon contest which I joined with my team-mate in July 2012 by walking 70 kilometers in two days in Ilgaz Mountains. Unavoidably adding my map knowledge and my experiences about cross country running and contests I became a leader of this rush and I found myself as a trekking guide that was not known in those years. In those years I set up “da-ha” trekking group which is the first letters of “For Everybody Falls in Love with Nature” (“Doğaya Aşık olan Herkese Açık”). Then we changed the name of the group as Yeni Rota as we go to new and different routes.
How does it feel to walk in a new route every weekend? Why a new route every weekend?
In my first trekking experience, I learned that our life between our work and our home is full of important-unimportant routines and almost everything we want to possess in time is worthless and they are transformed into a secular target that we are just addicted to. Long Distance Trekking in Nature is the walking that we are addicted to inveterately with the desire of living the nature that we visit regularly and continuously at weekends both in an extraordinary way as is and for a longer time. A new route every weekend is a new discovery for us. What we looking for is not a routine route that we know. We go on a new route every week by saying “We wish geography which is under control, less dangerous and a little bit wild”.
As a group’s guide, I’ve been thinking for a long time with a designer accuracy while preparing each route with excitement. There were maybe thousands of long trekking routes that we didn’t know about an average of 3-4 hours from Ankara and we were intended to walk one by one. One week we were taking the road from Ilıca Village of Bolu, Mudurnu, Taşkesti and reaching the peaks of Samanlık Mountain and then passing through the most beautiful plateaus of Düzce and going down Güzeldere, Eftani Lake.
Another week we were taking the road from Bolu Mengen and passing through Yenice Forests in the direction of south-north and reaching a village near Yenicekent. Next week we were taking the road from Alıç Village of Çankırı Ilgaz and passing through the western side of Ilgaz Mountains covered with giant fir trees and Gülpü peak in company with wonderful views and ending our walking in Boyalı Village of Kastamonu, Araç during sunset. When we completed long routes we were raising the level and next week the team was waiting for the same.
How does it feel to return to the city after the free walks in nature? What do you feel on the way back?
First of all, if we completed the planned route without problems, without accidents and without any bodily injuring, we are very tired but yes, we are very happy. As I said before there are trekkers who enjoy running the same dream and goal. You know as people who are living to get this sense of achievement in their blood in every step our self-confidence and tiredness are engaged and we are giving up our bodies on the seat of the bus and joking around. We are telling who and how to get through the route with the funniest way and our oldest to the youngest of us all merged in the same line and We are laughing unaware of identity, problems as we were a child. No medium in the city can bring together a wide range of age and occupation as we have in our bus and repeating our experiences in that day and telling them in a funny way.
Age average of Yeni Rota nature trekking group is over 50. Among them, there are retired and working people. They are not talking about policy with each other. No one cares about the opinion and the thought of the other and they are not interested in them. Some are attending in trekking every week, some every two weeks, some do not come in the winter, and some are attending camp trekkings. When they see new faces in the group and see familiar faces when they get in the morning service they become happy.
How does being a responsible guide of long distance trekkers make you feel?
Of course, as a problematic and responsible guide, I cannot spend my time on these long-distance walking trips as quiet and peaceful as other participating friends. I have to be selective for friends to attend these events. First of all, I must warn people who participate in the first time and must be able to control their capacities without getting mad.
“A more trekking is a philosopher sport”. As philosophers and thinkers from Aristotle to Kant and Nietzsche to Rousseau who constantly not saying but apply is read it is easy to come to a conclusion. The strongest known fact since ancient Greece is that almost most of the thinkers think and develop their philosophical ideas while walking. A French writer says, ”Walking is human-specific. Humanity not walking is condemned to disappear” I mean it is very critical.
From September 2002 in which we started regular nature trekkings as Yeni Rota group to the end of 2018 in 16 years, we had more than 630-days trekking and 2 or 8-day trekking with tent camping. If we consider the average kilometers of these walks between 25 and 30 in 17 years, we have walked 17 thousand kilometers of mountains, slopes, paths.
By: S. Bahar Alban / Photo : Ergün Erdem
*This article was published in the January– February issue of Marmara Life.