Frozen air slipped past my layers of clothing, slowly penetrating my hands, feet and face.
The snow came thick and fast, whirling and dancing, a decadent snowstorm to satisfy even the most ambitious of snow-day fantasies.
Below me, the small town of Goreme, the centrepiece of this snow-globe world, the bright green minaret of the Mosque surfacing for air from amongst the drifts, the Muslim call to prayer echoing across the land.
Cappadocia’s famous fairy chimneys, pinnacles of rock inhabited for thousands of years, reaching out into the sky like outstretched fingers, the hands of a giant preparing to scoop up a mighty snowball with which to wage war upon the world.
I worked my way through the slushy streets, my brother Alex at my side, my beard catching as many snowflakes as possible, my transformation into a mountain man nearly complete.
We walked to the edge of the town, a cold wind howling from the north, the trees rustling like live things.
We stopped, gazing outwards, the snow dancing on the edges of our vision, flakes pirouetting in the wind, the silver clouds racing overhead.
Slipping and sliding, jeeving and jiving, we made our way up the icy road – we were on a mission.
The soft rocks of Cappadocia have been inhabited for thousands of years, first by troglodytes, later by a mysterious people known as the Hittites, famed for building underground cities with labyrinthian tunnel systems capable of sheltering up to twenty thousand people from invading Persian forces.
Later, Christians fleeing persecution from the Roman Empire established several monastic communities in Cappadocia and set about carving churches and living quarters into the rocks.
From the road, we could see a promising looking church within the hills.
Pulling our jackets tight about us, we set off into the distance, ploughing fresh paths through the snow.
We followed a goat trail, scrambling on hands and knees upon the slick ice, the land undulating, boulders strewn across the path like ancient guardians.
Any real footpath that may or may not have existed was totally buried beneath the mountains of virgin snow.
Quickly, far too quickly, we became lost amongst the labyrinth of rocks and ice.
We sheltered beneath a tree, warped and frozen in time, icy tentacles winding down into the ground, and pondered our next move.
Opting for the most direct, rather than the easiest, route, we began to climb up a steep slope of gravel, snow and treacherous frost.
We slipped often, catching each other by the elbows, dirt covering our knees and hands.
Finally, I got one hand on a decent sized tree root and hauled myself and then Alex up to the lip of the escarpment.
We knelt, cold seeping through our jeans, panting, frozen breath spilling across the land in ragged clouds.
I looked up.
An ancient church loomed above me, battered and chipped frescoes of Christ and other saints decorated the walls.
We explored slowly, our footsteps echoing off the domed ceiling.
This was not what we were looking for.
We left, haphazardly making our way higher into the rocks, looking for a place to escape the wind.
We slid down frozen gullies, passing a small glade of hardy grass, beads of crystallised water sparkling like diamonds.
I saw it first.
A small doorway, perhaps a foot and a half wide, carved into one of the tallest fairy chimneys.
It did not look like it could lead to much, many of the caves had grand entrances, carved with runes and other symbols. This was plain, devoid of any decoration.
I made my way to the door and squeezed my way along the narrow passageway.
The passageway ended and there, above me, a circular entrance beckoned me onwards.
I heaved my way upwards, emerging into a small living space, a hermits cave.
The walls had been carefully sculpted, chipped away, a graceful arch dominated the room, a small window in a blackened corner, for a fire I was sure, offering a glimpse of the outside world.
I looked around the room, noting the many nooks carved within the wall, for candles I imagined, and pondered the life of the man who had lived here.
Was he running from something?
Was he looking for something?
Maybe, he was one of the world’s first backpackers…
We sat upon the main window ledge, our feet dangling above oblivion, and soaked in the mesmerising views.
In seven years of travelling, I had never seen anything quite like this.
The snow highlighted the red and golds of the rugged landscape spilling away from us.
Horses jostled in a paddock upon the horizon.
I could hear running water, snow melting, nearby.
The Muslim call to prayer, summoning the devout, splintered upon the wind, bouncing off the rocks and caves, an eerie and beautiful sound.
I said a prayer of my own, wrote it upon a piece of paper and watched it burn, glowing embers flowing from my hand, spiralling upon the air, dropping into nothingness.
The clouds raced across the sky as me and Alex sat, chatting, discussing religion, the meaning of life and, of course, our plans for the future.
It appeared that we were in a time capsule, living in our own little bubble, the town within sight but seemingly very far away, an entire world removed.
There was no doubt in my mind, this was the perfect place.
This was where I would hide my geocache, a lunchbox from home filled with treasures.
I looked about me and settled upon a small ledge above the window.
It fit perfectly.
Inside, mementos from my childhood.
A star-wars action figure, fossils from dorset, quartz from my stone-collecting days, a game of thrones playing card, Broke Backpacker wristbands, a poem, an electronic candle, a notebook for adventure-seekers to sign.
I will be back, one day, to collect it.
I am hoping that it will be filled with the stories and thoughts of adventurers from all over the world.
Until then, it is out there, waiting for you…
If you go to Turkey, go on the ultimate backpacker adventure – head off into into the mountains and find my geocache in Cappadocia 🙂
How to find my Geocache in Cappadocia: Walk to the bottom of town in Goreme where you will hit a roundabout, with your back to the town, turn right, walk about one hundred and fifty meters along the road, you will pass a potters workshop, you will pass a quad bike rental place. From the road, look right, you are looking for a large doorway about three hundred meters off the road, this is the church. Make your way towards it, the hike will take about twenty minutes. When standing in front of the church, turn right and walk about fifty meters, you will have to go down a slope and then back up the slope on the other side. You may be able to see the main window from the hermits cave but to get to the entrance, you have to go round the back. I explored hundreds of caves in Cappadocia, this is the best one. Good luck.
If you find my geocache in Cappadocia, take something, leave something and sign the book.
Update: A few awesome people have made it to the cave and sent me pictures. Sadly, it appears some fucker stole the geocache, why I do not know. This is however the BEST cave in all of Cappadocia so trust me; go, find it. Send me a photo if you do.
I would love to see pictures so be awesome send them in to my Facebook page.
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