Option Week 1 - Hiking in Mitzpei Ramon (Shvil)
I was really looking forward to the Negev hike but didn't really know what to expect. I'd actually initially wanted to go on Gadna and was considering changing however in hindsight I'm very happy I stayed. We hiked in the desert for 3 days with a crew of 20 or so amazing people and slept amongst the sand dunes and bright full moon for 2 nights.
We drove all the way to the middle of the Negev from Tel Aviv and were greeted by a whole table of meats, breads, and a legendary guide named Amir. There our journey started from the centre of a geological wonder, which was the unique 'crater' and desert we know as the Negev.
Our group set off with high hopes and higher amounts of snacks, water and sun protection on our backs as we ventured into the expansive desert before us. After only 30 minutes of hiking we were all drenched in sweat and underprepared for the so called 'winter' in Israel. Amir showed us a wide array of fossilised cone shells, lookalike ancient shrimp animals and lots of unknown specimens. He explained to us the history of the canyon and how it used to be a great ocean.
While Tomer pumped the tunes to get us going and Omer and Shira amongst everyone else danced or sang along, Amir took us up our very first mountain of the tour. Standing at the foot of it was very daunting and initially we were all feeling skeptical however with lots of positivity and resilience we conquered our fears and laughed at the defeated rocks frowning below us. As we stood on top of that first triumph a loud rumbling filled our ears. An earthquake like sound shook the ground and we heard Amir cry "look it's the f16's!". They shot past us at a sound breaking speed as to almost applaud us on conquering the mountain and welcome us to the Negev. From that moment in the hike and the trip in general I overall realised the power of the Jewish people from wondering the desert for 40 years, to making it out of Nazi Europe and conquering the land of Israel and the powerful nation we are today.
We wondered to our campsite later that day under the setting sun and faintly visible full moon with our heads high and grins wide. Joel Engleman summed up the day and overall trip for me by saying as we strolled back to camp, "the harder the journey, the bigger the reward".
That night we sat by the campfire singing songs, roasting marshmallows, watching the shooting stars and telling campfire stories. Simply laughing, relaxing and enjoying each other's company after the tough day was really soothing for me as the hot dry day turned into a bone chillingly cold night. Nonetheless our amazing crew stuck together huddling for warmth and appreciative of the tasty dinner we all helped cook.
I could write on and on about the countless amounts of falls, animal spottings, f16 frights, and bonding experiences that brought us all to feel like family by the end of the trip. I cannot express how much I truely loved the hike in the Negev not only because of the sheer beauty and originality the experience but because of the friendships I made and the connections to I felt to the land of Israel.
I finally want to thank Amir for guiding us, Omer for his positivity, Gila and Michy for their entertainment and kindness, Mikey for caring for us, the Levy's for inspiring us and finally, I want to thank all my friends that shared this amazing experience with me.
We came, we climbed, IST 2016
- Amy Diamond
Written by Isaac Cremer