Wednesday, April 14, 1651, afternoon
With overcast skies, cool temperatures, a near gale, with heavy rain and a crosswind.
How has the party found their way here to this dreaded, unknown place?
They are on the southeast side of the Anti-Taurus mountains in central Anatolia, 17 days from Amisos. During that time they have climbed and climbed, until the highest point of the pass through the mountains they've just come through, above 6,000 feet.
The first two days, the party edged into a slot through the Pontine Mountains, following the Yeshil river, with many small towns and villages, orchards, great flocks of sheep and herders hard at work shearing them. By the third day, you were through the gap, but still climbing, upwards through a open mixed cedar, hazelnut and oak forest.
There are four days of this, the last day being the hardest, as the last climb onto the plateau at Tokat proves a trial. The weather, at least, is bearable, the sky is clear and the brisk temperature is good for travel - you walk with open coats and hats off during the day. The chilly nights, however, those you can do without. At least the days are steadily getting longer.
You reach Tokat on the 5th, a fair sized town, 500 buildings, amid tobacco, tea and coffee plantations, above the forest. The road is better here, and you roll south with gained enthusiasm. The days are cool, now, thoguh the evenings are still brisk and the nights still chilly. You pass through the bigger city of Sebaste on the 8th, more than twice the size of Tokat, and that night there is an unusual driving rain, that makes you appreciate the vardo.
Its been hardly apparent to you that you've been still climbing all this time. Tokat was 2,600 feet above sea level, Sebaste is 4,000. The plantations have yet been on both sides of the road, but now the party sees the great Anti-Taurus mountains above them, though they are 40 miles, 10,000 feet high and covered with snow. They seem impossible.
The roads have been empty much of this time, except for local traffic, and the party has noticed they've been left alone more than usual. No one seems much interested in them, or friendly, most likely because of their European appearance. At the end of two weeks, the party at last begins to make its way to the pass.
To climb the pass takes two whole days. A fresh wind brings heavy rain the morning of the second day, and another light rain that night. The party is over the pass the next day, the 13th, their feet crunching on snow and the vardo making tracks as they go. They are just beginning to descend when the sun makes it too dark to continue.
This brings us back to the beginning of the post, where the rain has made the last 18 hours intolerable to say the least. The party is hunkered down in their vardo, waiting as the afternoon wears away and there are signs the clouds are dissipating, the animals outside and everything, everywhere, slicked with wet ... when there comes a knock on the door.