March 21st: Hike in the Negev Desert, Israel

   This may have been one of the coolest experiences in my life. Possibly because I was in a part of the world I had never been before (and who knows when I will be again), possibly because desert is a far cry from what I normally find in Missouri while hiking. This hike was done in a (very) large group, which is not something I normally enjoy, but I found it both challenging at times (not wanting to be the last one up the big hill!) and fun.  We had both lots of interesting conversations on this hike, but also hiked maybe a third of it as a "silent hike," which I think lent itself to immersing myself in the desert most of all. This was about an 8 mile hike and not super challenging except for the very first climb OUT of the valley onto the top of the plateau cliffs. This was near Sde Boker, and I believe that area we hiked was called the Zin Valley (or Zin Wadi?).  The trip itself was such an amazing experience, but really busy and there wasn't always time to write down the exact details of where we were.

First we camped out near the Ben Gurion memorial site in Sde Boker, down below in the valley on Tuesday night, March 20th. There was a hot Israeli dinner, a campire, and lots of music long into the night. Not much stars, as the dust still lingering in the air from some windy days made visability not so great. It was COLD, and I heard Jackals for the first time that night, but it was a pretty amazing experience.

Then on the morning of March 21st, we woke up with the dawn, had a solid breakfast and packed up camp (which was then taken away, we did not have to take it on our hike, thank goodness) and started our hike with the hardest part of the whole day: the hike OUT of the canyon valley! It doesn't look so hard in the photos, but it was really steep and definitely showed me I was not in the shape I thought I was in. The view from the top was gorgeous.

click on the panorama pictures to see them full size.

Then came the long desert hike. It had some ups and downs, but once we were out of the valley, there wasn't anything too complicated. It was beautiful and barren and bright. There were both stretches of flat desert all around us and then suddenly more cliffs to look over and into the beyond... and a Bedouin tent.

Our stop about halfway through the hike was an oasis with a lovely waterfall, freezing water, and many many Israeli school children.

And then there was a very long hike back down what was half trail, half road, but still very breathtaking. There was even a brief point at the end of the trail to rest and take in the desert for the last time. 

There might have also been an insane camel ride, but that doesn't really count as hiking...

1 comment:

Kristin said...

How cool!! I am insanely jealous of your trip!

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