Monday, February 21, 2011

Fear of Heights? What Fear of Heights?!

Har Sholomo

A place like Israel has such a wide variety of terrain. HUC took us down to the south to show us a variety of different things. One of them being the vast expanses of deserts. The Negev and the Aravah. These spots are in the Syro-African Rift Valley, and on either side are large swaths of mountain ranges. During the tiyyul we had the choice to go on a hike at Timna or a more challenging hike up Har Shlomo (Mount Solomon).

It started out pretty easy. A long walk from the bus to the foot of the mountain. Our guide stopped and told us a story about a trip he took a group of high schoolers on. On an early morning hike they paused because he was shocked to find a family of Ibex living in near the foot of the mountain. Then about 25 meters later we spotted our own family of Ibex. It was really cool.

Ibex Family at the foot of Har Shlomo

They were eating and just wandering around a little bit. Someone said, "I wonder how close we can get before they get scared off?" A few seconds later, they got spooked and ran into the hills. They are so agile! It was awesome to see.

If I hadn't told you before, I have a slight fear of heights. I get a little shaky and my heart starts to race. The majority of the hike up wasn't so bad for me. There were some spots, though, that there were no footholds or handholds to scamper over. Instead, there was a large handrail that had been attached to the mountain so you can hang on. It was at that point my heart started to race a bit. It's hard to not look down, even when you know that you shouldn't.

In the end, it was worth it! The shakiness, the sore legs on the way to the top, but at the end, I want to quote my friend Beni, "Look at the view!"

The View Partway Up The Mountain

The view was incredible! Looking back at where we started, you could see two different shades of mountain, the furthest away were the hills of the Sinai mountains, Egypt. We looked down into the Gulf of Aqba and across the Red Sea, you can see Jordan. Gazing slightly further south, into the haze, we could see Saudi Arabia.

I wish my camera hadn't died on the climb up the mountain so I can share a picture from the top. It was spectacular.

The walk down took a few hours longer than the way up. We passed through a dry river bed and down a bunch of different waterfalls. They were challenging because you drop straight down, and use footholds to lower yourself.

I love getting out on the trails here. I want to learn more about how to navigate them, and more about hiking. I had a blast on the few that we've done here and can't wait to get out and do more, here and when I get back to the states.

A Break Partway Through the Hike

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