Waking up in the aftermath of Shvil in my crisp bed linen led me to an earth shattering conclusion - I could feel my toes again. The last 72 hours had been filled with sweltering days hiking up mountain faces, and freezing nights gathered around a camp fire seeking the slightest bit of warmth. Both of which combined to make an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Monday morning. The start of our almost 30 kilometre hike began with 2 hours on a bus. With every glance outside, we drove further and further out of our comfort zones and towards the sands of the Negev. After several hours of following a winding fire trail into the vast and uninhabited terrain, we arrived at camp. Our campsite, reminiscent of a scene from Stranger Things, consisted of hanging Christmas lights and woven rugs, all to the backdrop of the area’s tallest mountain.
7am, the following morning. Waking up to numb feet and stinging legs, we took down our tents with our aching hands and prepared for the day. “Today,” as one of our Mads informed me “we’re going to hike up the mountain”. As it turned out, a more appropriate word would have been to drag ourselves up a 70 degree incline. The weather soon became hot. Then it became uncomfortably hot. After reaching the peak of the mountain and nearly sliding back down, we continued our hike on a much lower incline. We arrived at our campsite at 3, where we collapsed onto the mats, staring up at the sun while processing the days hike. Within an hour, the weather cooled back down and I was told that, unlike my presumption, the shvil was not across the entire Israel, but rather a circle in the Negev.
That night, we set back into our usual camp fire setting, talking and singing as the flames grew.
12 pm, Wednesday. We were hiking up the stairs to the remains of an ancient monastery built into the mountains. Half an hour before, we were looking at a rare sight: a natural stream in the desert. These two phenomena, combined with our tour guide’s explanations of the sociological and geographic history of the area, made us understand the diversity of the Israeli landscape and culture.
Shvil truly was a great experience.