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  • Out here, you're free to do whatever dangers you wish. No constraint. Just you and your freedom. Out here, up here, is the exhilaration of doing something amazing and fatal, facing the harsh untouched beauty of nature without eyes everywhere, without safety dulling the excitement.

    The place to go for the ultimate challenge in strength and mind is the mountains. More specifically, the the untouched Yayla of Antalya, Turkey. If you can't find it on a map, then it's the place to go. These mountains are the kind with only a couple farming families, who grow there own food. The goat herders. The Peasants.

    My grandfather manages the water for the community. Tames the wild streams. Chops with a pick ax the only trails through the mountains; trails so small and camouflaged they're hardly visible. This is the place where, if you settle, you have to build your home with your own hands. I don't face half of these hardships when coming here for the summer; But I do risk my life. My whole life can be worth the adventures up here. You yearn for the danger. The victory of climbing to the top of a free, wild mountain, the chance of death pulls you toward it, like the ocean.

    When the time comes that we go to check on the water, the fresh streams trickling down the rocky giants, we go on a journey, 1,020 meters up, lugging our packs along the trails that seem to just get more and more invisible.
    Sometimes Dede (grandpa) stops to scrape out more stepping space out of the dirt because the dying mountain was bleeding over it, filling that tiny life road with unstable rock.

    I look down the steep slope of crumbling stone and pine needles, taking note of the fact that a single misstep could send me tumbling, sliding through the killer thorns, through the saplings, off the cliff to spill my skull on the rocks of the canyon that held the main water. Just like the rocks that fall to Dede's pick ax, tumbling through the undergrowth, gaining speed, and hurtling off the edge. I listen for the painful crack that follows.

    Vicious beauty.

    Sometimes when I begin to slide, fear overtakes me (wouldn't it everyone?)and a brief blackness flashes before my eyes. I scream for mother, she would save me. It's all instinct when you think you're about to die. Then it's over, my hands find a rock, and other hands help me back up onto the packed-in line of pine needles and dirt that is the trail.

    When my heart comes out of woodpecker mode, only then does the exhilaration overcome me. I could of died! The near-fate was beautiful. In the cities, the towns, even other mountain ranges where certain things are not aloud, I could never have gotten into this kind of danger. This kind of victory. I was battling death head on, surrounded by untouched natural beauty. rock after rock, meter after meter. The top of the world. Now, this was life.

    My grandfather calls himself the king of the mountains, as he lives on the ancient greek mount Olympus. The Zeus of it all. Up here, no matter how poor you are, you can own a mountain range. Old couples come to have peace in the breathtaking beauty and the clouds.

    I'd much rather spend my summer climbing the wilds and risking my life than going to pool parties. Up here, I feel that I've found something.

    Perhaps I've found God's lair.
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