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Facebook Post - 3rd Week on the Trail


Judean desert 诪讚讘专 讬讛讜讚讛

This was a week full of transitions, of different sorts. From the deep descents and ascents of the south to the more (relatively) gentle rolling hills of the center; from desert(s) to a savannah-like climate; from solitude to more social interaction; from desperation to hope. (Well, not really, but almost....) 馃槒 And in other ways, too. The week started with the dramatic (even terrifying) descent of 诪注诇讛 驻诇诪状讞 (Maale Palmach), and then a stunningly beautiful walk down 谞讞诇 讞转讬专讛 - and then a long and steep trudge up 诪注诇讛 讬诪讬谉 to the night camp overlooking 诪讻转砖 讛拽讟谉 (the machtesh hakatan or "small crater"). Only thing: the 'water drop' I'd paid for wasn't there. Oh my. Stopped a few tourists on their way back from driving up 诪注诇讛 注拽专讘讬诐 and begged some water; then my guy came at 11pm (! I was asleep in my tent) so all good for the next day. Except. Aside from the rain that night - no worries tho it and the wind kept me up much if the night - Monday turned into a pretty harrowing day. Starting with the almost unbearably challenging 诪注诇讛 讗诇讬 (Maale Eli) descent into the 诪讻转砖 讛拽转谉 (small crater), then 9 hours (in the heat) later found myself still climbing out if it... And then still with another few hours of ups and downs to go. Night hiking with no moon has its advantages - cooler, the occasional bobcat (拽专拽诇) crossing your path, and new noises to wonder about, plus the stars of course - but I don't recommend it. Anyway - managed to get to the night camp in one piece, after about an hour of stumbling through the last few hills with my headlamp guiding me brightly (while turning anything out of range of the light into one huge eerie pool of blackness). 馃槉 But the Maale Eli descent was amazing - gorgeous and captivating in the size and patterns of the cliffs coming into the Machtesh Hakatan, and even in the haze and heat the view was breath-taking. Those first two days this week were two of the most impressive and enjoyable desert panoramas I've seen, and I'd be delighted to do them again (one day perhaps,tho definitely without a 24-kilo backpack). A kind of routine developed, on these difficult mornings. I sing a lot - sometimes just 'cause I feel like it, often simply to pass the time, occasionally to distract the fear (as here), and in this case also literally to hear myself sing - as the echo was tremendous! I now have a habit of starting the singing each morning with an old Camp Swig tune for 讘专讜讱 砖讗诪专 - Baruch She'Amar - 讘专讜讱 砖讗诪专 讜讛讬讛 讛注讜诇诐 - 讘专讜讱 讛讜讗 讘专讜讱 讗讜诪专 讜注讜砖讛 讘专讜讱 讙讜讝专 讜诪拽讬讬诐 讘专讜讱 诪专讞诐 注诇 讛讗专抓 讘专讜讱 诪专讞诐 注诇 讛讘专讬讜转 Imagine me singing at the top of my lungs as the echoes form a sort of 'round'.... Fortunately no one else is there to notice. The words mean a lot to me, and it becomes a form of 转驻讬诇讛 and meditation. (That and 专讘讜转 诪讞砖讘讜转 are my kind of theme songs these days....) 专讘讜转 诪讞砖讘讜转 讘诇讘 讗讬砖 讜注爪转 讛壮 讛讬讗 转拽讜诐. 注爪转 讛壮 诇注讜诇诐 转注诪讜讚 诪讞砖讘讜转 诇讬讘讜 诇讚讜专 讜讚讜专.... The rest of the week was less eventful, including a long trek - about 20 km - through the heights of the Judean desert, where virtually nothing exists except rocks and more rocks as far as the eye can see (or the foot walk) - see photo. Then I enjoyed some time at Tel Arad (remains of a biblical settlement) and at the Yatir winery (one of Israel's best - couldn't resist). Finally, on Thursday, did a long (24 km) and harder-than-expected (more uphill than thought, and the descents are harder in your feet and knees than you anticipate) hike through 讬注专 讬转讬专 (Yatir Forest) from 讛专 注诪砖讛 (Amsa). Which ended in another hour of night-walking - this time in Meitar forest with jackals seemingly surrounding me from a distance (yup - I recognized their calls from home). Gotta work on the getting-there-before-sunset aspect.... But ended up being 'rescued' & taken (they insisted!) to the home of the nicest people you could meet, in Meitar, who it turns out know the folks of one of my friends and neighbors in Beit Shemesh very well. So no complaints. Like I said - many transitions, and not only from desert to forest. (Mt. Amsa is one of the few places in the world where three climes meet, and it's apparent in the riot of different flowers and bushes, colored rocks and soil, even in the changing wind patterns.) In the bleakness of the rocky desert, looking for a song to sing, I suddenly recalled a song I'd written more than 30 years ago, and started singing it. But I couldn't remember the words - and that was so very frustrating. A few minutes of striding along, humming the tune, which is an incredibly uplifting, fun and hopeful melody, and my anger turned to inspiration: If I can't recall the lyrics... I can just write new ones! So over the next hour I did just that - and I think the new lyrics may even be better than the original. Certainly they're more powerful - and more relevant - than the musings of a 20-yr-old. First time I've written a song in 29 years.... This week the shvil also became more social. For the first time I stayed at a few 诪诇讗讻讬 讛砖讘讬诇 (Trail 'Angels') and each is in their own way warm and giving, curious and sometimes envious, and often with their own story to tell. One hosts shvilistim in a sort of Bedouin tent in memory of their son Ofer. And the little cabin I spent Shabbat in is in memory of a young soldier, Yishai, who died on a trek in South America. Both of course loved hiking in Israel, so what a fitting way to honor and preserve their memory. Shabbat in the small community of Sansana here in the South Hebron hills was really lovely - restful and relaxing and in a religious community with the most basic and important tenets really evident: warmth and hospitality, serious davenning, lots of young children with incredible exuberance - just a wonderful, wholesome, down-to-earth village feeling. Hosted by the tireless Sofer family, I was immediately made to feel not only welcome but part of the clan - which was incredibly timely, under the circumstances, and really heart-warming. Transitions.... Spending Shabbat with them, and in such a young and vibrant kehilla (including a new friend, Shai, who shared some of his fine single malts with me 馃構), made me miss home and my family and friends.... But am looking forward to a visit (& re-supply!) this evening by Mo & Tani, and to then continuing the journey.... Shavua Tov

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