December 27, 2013
December 27, 2013
Waking up this morning was unlike the rest of the wake ups of the whole of IST. Today the group that chose hiking as their optional 3 days were awoken to the sound of Shlomo's voice booming, "Bo- bo- bo- boker tov" and vigourously shaking our tents. Surprisingly we were well rested after a solid 9 hour sleep under the stars despite the endless snoring and the wind orchestra noises from the tents beside us. There is nothing better than climbing out of your tent to the picturesque landscape of vast mountain ranges in an amalgamation of reds and yellows and scaling a small hill to arrive at a perfect view overlooking the Arava Valley to our right and the Jordanian border to our left. We davened an especially meaningful shacharit surrounded by the wonders of nature, where it was easy to appreciate the miracles Hashem performs around the world on a daily basis. After a hearty breakfast by the campfire, we packed the trailer and set off on our second day of hiking! We started off and Ofer - our guide and Shlomo showed us the route we would be walking throughout the day - two huge mountain ranges and 15km of walking. Groans of despair and excited chatter filled the air as we stared at the challenge that faced us.
The contrast between the two mountains amazed us all. Mount Shlomo formed over a long period of time, with lava that once belonged to a volcano cooling over millions of years. Gradually the lava crystallized and hardened to and crystalising to create a beautiful maroon granite stone. Part of the cooling process involved the movement of the yellow dust of Mount Yoram onto the lava, which after many years was eroded by rain and wind to reveal the beaty of the hidden mountain. Mount Yorum is composed of yellow limestone that adds a unique beauty to the adjoining, contrasting mountains.
We began our journey in the black canyon, climbing up the challenging black mountain and descended down to 'Disappearing Valley' until we arrived at a dry river bed. Gradually we approached the beauty of adjoining Mount Shlomo and Mount Yoram.
Despite the seemingly endless trail to arrive at our destination the feeling of absolute accomplishment when arriving at the beautiful campsite encompassed by enormous overlapping mountains and the scent of cooking beef stew and potato Poike wafting through the air. We began unloading the jeep, setting up the temporary homes we would be settling into for the night and preparing the delicious dinner we would ravenously devour that evening after a long day of hiking. Beef stew, chicken rice dish- a specialty of our guide Ofer, who named it "Desert Chicken" as well as chips, Poike, cabbage salad and homemade tahini- constituted one of the better dinners of IST.
After a more than satisfying meal our hiking family gathered around the huge campfire to roast marshmallows and a play a very intense game of "mafia" before almost falling asleep to the sound of Daniel Lowy's softly humming guitar. Decidedly we all went off to our tents to go to sleep, filled with a love for Israel and grateful for the opportunity we had to experience the beautiful land of Israel first hand. There is no better way to connect with our homeland than to physically hike through it really seeing every mountain, every valley up close and walking through it engrossed within the land that is our home. It was a memorable day.