First week on the trail was hard. No, difficult. Well actually pretty daunting & exhausting. 😏
Started by hiking Har Shlomo outside Eilat by mistake (!) - first with hand-over-hand rock climbing - with a 24-kilo pack mind u - and then along ridges to Har Yeroham with trails about 20cm wide, no kidding, with cliff on the right and sheer fall of 50 meters to the other. Thought 'okay, this is it, fine, I"ll just sleep here & 2moro they'll send 669 to come rescue me...'. But made it.
That more or less set the tone for the week - Har Shechorot, Maale Amram & the Milchan were only the worst ascents among many - hundreds of meters up and down, long treks through narrow canyons and gulleys and through wide wadis and plateaus - all of it sublimely wild and extraordinarily beautiful.
The colors of the rocks, hills, cliffs and stones are a kaleidoscope of browns, black, red, purple, yellow, white and even blue and green. Time and space take on new meaning. Views I've seen from a car become almost living landscapes, changing with every step. Two kilometers are nothing while striding along a sun-baked river bed as you near your destination, only to become unbearably endless and painful when it turns out you need to walk that same distance on arrival to get to your night camp or water source.
And the silence. At times oppressive, usually just a bit overwhelming, occasionally deeply moving. The cliche "at one with nature" actually applies when you are one, completely alone with what seems like endless hills & valleys all around you and not a sound - no animal or bird, no car or plane, just you and the wind and the crunch of your steps along the path.
Enough reflections for one Motza"sh. Ended the week with a lovely relaxing (if damn 'unusual') Shabbat with Moriyah at אשראם במדבר (Ashram in the Desert)... Don't ask.
Miss my family and friends very much and I do appreciate all the concern and good wishes - and (just a beginning here) thanks so much to Shani & Shuki for the pack and guidance, Shira for the walking sticks (Omg couldn't possibly manage w/out them), Tani for the צווארון & hat, wear them every night (it's bloody COLD in the desert!), Mark for the lentils & Quinoa, they were my staple all week (2 nights just ate the leftovers cold in my tent, too exhausted & freezing to even cook - or brush teeth or anything else, don't ask), Mo & Tani for the Leatherman & Yonatan & Shira for the light/lantern, Zvika for taking me down to Eilat (& buying the beers with me for Ethan and Jeremy, our US Marine buddies from the ship) & for waving me off at Nachal Shlomo and Hadas for worrying 😌... and my crew at MediaCentral for the shirt I wore all week (yes, I washed it Friday; still, doesn't look like it.... sorry).
All for now - hope to see you soon on the trail... Shavua Tov