The Journey Begins

Crescent moon over the mountains of southern Israel. We are only 25 km from where we began, but those kilometers were insane. For extreme hikers only, though Arlene takes it all in stride. She is utterly fearless and I can’t count the number of times she’s said “of course you can do this” whether it be climbing 20 foot ladders on a sheet cliff or walking with 40 pound packs on a narrow ledge 1000 feet up or just the endless rock climbing.

She is always there to offer me the end of her hiking pole or her hand just to get me UP. Today I actually ended up sliding down a rock and sitting on her shoulders. She has ingenious ways around impossible situations. This hike should not be done alone. In fact it’s a good place to take someone you want to get rid of.

We are exhausted by about 3 pm (we start at 7am). Tonight I looked to see why my toes were hurting and my second toes were completely blistered right under the toenails. Red and disgusting. My shins and knees are various shades of purple and green. That said the scenery is breathtaking. We saw an ibex the other day but were too exhausted to even take any picture. Someone from the hostel cached water for us but we were a day late getting to the campsite (due to the extremity of the trail). We walked an extra 4 km after going to the wrong park.

A bus offered us a ride but whizzed past the entrance to the park and so there we were hiking again up another hill. On a positive note we had run out of water a few hours earlier so at least we weren’t suffering under a load of H2O. The guys from the Shelter Hostel also left us wood so we had a campfire and all was well until a wind blew up in the middle of the night. Arleen’s tent was blow into the thorny arms of an acacia tree where the fly sheet suffered some serious damage. Have some great photos of tent malfunctions!

At the moment we’re sheltered under a rock ledge (there are falling rock warnings). No  surprise. Israel is full of rocks wadis and black rock, gravelly trails, water pitted boulders – you name it’s here.

Read Arleen’s blog “the flip side of fifty” to get an account of our failed Jordan expedition.

Much more I could write but tomorrow will be a hard slog,  20% grade and who knows what the evil trail masters have put in our path – nothing that regular humans could conquer, I’m sure. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. In time I might be able to hoist myself over 20 foot rocks with my fingertips or crush walnuts with my quads. Arlene is very strong. Her hard work starting that you-pick blueberry farm has paid off big time.

Apparently there’s a 30 km bike ride ahead and a swim across two deep ponds in some canyon, the trick being not to get our gear wet.  So stay tuned!

Morning now. Slept well. I’ll cover up my toes with moleskin and hoist that pack once more over another formidable mountain. Wish us well!!

There were pictures but no power to send them at the moment. Perhaps tonight after a day on the solar charger.

5 thoughts on “The Journey Begins

  1. Sandra

    My god..this sounds wild. I still can’t believe you are having this adventure. Stories for the grand kids for sure. I’m so impressed that your determination and stamina s still in tact.. I would have given up after the blistered toes. Keep going! You are inspiring us lazy types at home.


  2. Kathy

    Hang in there. I’m sure it will get better. This reminds me about the essay I read years ago and still adhere to: Suffering for the Sake of Story Telling. Just think how boring it would be if you didn’t have all kinds of misadventures. You’ll be fine.


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