At an altitude of 300m, 20km off the D010 coast road, the tiny town of Çamlıhemşin is a climatic transition point. Mist and drizzle indicate that you've left the coastal zone, and once you continue further up the valleys, you experience increasing alpine influence in climate, terrain and vegetation. Çamlıhemşin is a functional, workaday spot, but has an appealing authenticity. The locals are mostly Hemşin.
At the top end of Çamlıhemşin the road forks: left up the Hala valley to Ayder (17km) or straight on up the Fırtına valley towards Çat. Both are beautiful routes up densely wooded valleys, passing several elegant Ottoman-era arched stone bridges across the rivers, frequently adorned with selfie-posing tourists.