Sunday, April 8, 2012

Where is the Ark?

Mt. Ararat during springtime in Turkey

This is the massive summit of Mt. Ararat.

Mt. Ararat from our flea-bitten hotel in Dogubayazit, Turkey. At least the view was spectacular!

Our first glimpse of Mt. Ararat in Turkey.

The countryside around Mt. Ararat, Turkey.

Exploring Mt. Ararat

We drove for nearly 10 hours over what we would consider jeep roads, across high mountain passes clogged with feet of snow and passed through Turkish army checkpoints astride the Turkey/Iran border. Just after the highest army checkpoint we rounded a curve and saw Mt. Ararat. The mountain is utterly spectacular!

Mt. Ararat was clothed in a heavy blanket of pure white show and glistened in the cloudless sky. The top of the mountain is 16,854 feet and you can climb it as long as you get the necessary Turkish permit. Unfortunately it is still winter on the mountain and the climbing season doesn't begin until June.

We stayed in the town at the base of the mountain called Dogubeyazit (Steve believes it is pronounced Dog-bite-you). This is considered a raw frontier town with dust, trucks and many many people just milling about in the streets. These are Kurdish people and because the Turks don't really like them the government provides very little assistance to the town or the people. Then there is the Iranian border that is about 20 miles from the village (it was much closer at less than 1/4 mile at the top of the pass that we drive over!). Trucks roll through town bringing goods to and from Iran along the dusty roads day and night. Let's just say that Dogubeyazit is not a place you would want to spend any time.

Where is the Ark? Well, there is a lot of snow on Mt. Ararat and a lot of it never melts. So the chances of finding something up there is pretty remote but on the other hand, who would land a ship that size on the TOP of the highest mountain in Turkey? I would guess that it would be lower down on the flanks if it is there. But nobody asked me and I can't go explore right now because it is still winter on the mountain!

As Paul Simon once sang about the Ark (well almost like this):

'Something tells me
It's all happening at the Ark
I do believe it
I do believe it's true
The monkeys stand for honesty
Giraffes are insincere
And the elephants are kindly but they're dumb
Ourang-outangs are skeptical
Of changes in their cages
And the zookeeper is very fond of rum
Zebras are reactionaries
Antelopes are missionaries
Pigeons plot in secrecy
And hamsters turn on frequently
What an Ark!
Ya gotta come and see Mt. Ararat and the Ark!'

Next we will drive north, over the Pontus, Taurus and Anti-Taurus mountain ranges that contain Mount Ararat and the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Our destination is the Black Sea and the seaport city of Trabzon.

Sail on, sail on and sail safe Aspen…

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