Saturday, July 19, 2008
MOUNT SINAI July 2008
There is no preparation in the world that can prepare someone for a walk up the camel-trail at Mount Sinai. 6-Kilometers to the fourth rest stop. You travel up a worn down, rock-infested track and pass donkeys and camels and all kinds of pilgrims. There are places to rest and you move at your own pace. You finally reach the top of the camel path and you still have about 300 feet up to get to a cut in the rock. After passing the cut, there is a bowl shaped basin in the center of the mountain. If you opted at the beginning to climb the Steps of Repentance, you would have cut your climb in half, but doubled the workload. The steps lead directly, thru a cut on the front of the mountain, to Elijah's Basin. The basin is the bowl in the middle of the peaks. This is where we stopped for a bedouin dinner and to bed down under the stars for the night. We were treated to a feast of soup, chicken and rice and salad. There was an evening stroll to the side of the cliff to see the monastary at night and the lights below. St Catherine's is an Orthodox monastary that has lasted at Mt Sinai since the 14th century AD. After a relaxing meal, we read the Old Testament to the firelight. After a restful sleep by the light of the full moon, we were awakened at 4 am to continue our trek up the cliff to the summit. We went up after a throng of pilgrims. They had arrived overnight. They had trekked up the mountain by flashlight to get to the summit by morning. We fell into the conga line that snaked to the top. We were up there about 25 minutes before a beautiful sunrise. If you ever get a chance to scale to this height, you should, by all means do it. If you think the walk up is tough, try coming down the steps in the morning.