I'm not an outdoorsy person, but if I am going to go outside, I hope it's for hiking.
However, since I am not often outside, I don't hike much. My friends don't hike much. It's not something I've had a lot of experience in, no matter how much I enjoy it each time I actually do.
In Israel, there were several hiking opportunities. Each one kicked my sorry white hide, and all in different ways.
En Gedi is where David hid from Saul up in the caves. Of course, I always expected this to be a desert place, dry and barren - no one would go there and they chose it for that reason.
En Gedi is a tropical waterfall area with lush green vines all around. This hike, I more or less conquered...as well as saw some sites we all could have done without.
|Russians don't follow the "NO SWIMMING" rule|
The real beast was Masada.
Masada is a mountain with a snake trail slithering up its side. If you're willing, you can hike uphill for five miles in the desert sun to reach the top. If hiking isn't your thing, you can take the 1-2 minute gondola ride scaling up from the lobby below.
Masada is a tourist site due to its history. Ages ago, the people of Masada were invaded by the Romans, but because of the difficulty to get to the top, the Romans weren't able to acquire Masada for an embarrassingly long time (for the Romans).
When they finally built a ramp to scale the mountain and take captive those from the land above, the heads of the families - deciding they wouldn't fall prey to Rome - killed their loved ones and then drew lots to kill each other.
When Rome reached the top, only Josephus remained. His stories are where Jewish people get much of their history.
Being the dumb-dumb that I am, I took the challenge. Of COURSE I wanted to join Brosef and the rest in scaling this ridiculous mountain when I am not athletic or capable at all.
|How far up we hiked. That white line is the trail. Those tiny black dots are people.|
At first, trekking with Big D (one of my travelers) was easy. We set a good pace and made good time. Brosef and Owen were racing far ahead of us, but I already knew Owen would win. Brosef didn't have the right shoes AND had brought his heavy backpack. It slowed him down.
Eventually, Big D had to leave me behind so I could wheeze up at my own pace.
So. Much. Wheezing.
Pretty sure that part was in my head.
Eventually, I reached a place where Brosef was resting, Big D having passed him as well.
"Come on, Sister." He demanded in his most encouraging tone. "You can do this. Come to me."
He coaxed me the rest of the way up the mountain. In part, I kept on because the person behind me was catching up and I didn't want her to beat me.
I finished in 29 minutes.
Let me break that down for you.
They consider Masada a 45 minute hike. 25 minutes is what kids do it in (young agile kids) - 24 minutes is the best time for a man who does this regularly.
I did it in 29.
Triumphant, I turned the corner to find all those from the gondola as well as those who had come before me - Brosef (28 minutes), Big D (25 minutes) and Owen (22 FREAKIN MINUTES).
Panting like the chubby kid who had to walk the mile back in school (that might have been me...), I dumped water all over my fire-truck-red face. I whined and moaned and couldn't cool down.
Nothing I did made me feel better.
So I sat and wheezed for ten minutes.
And then we were up and moving again, which, once the mountain beats you...it rewards you.
|The view from the top|
Masada is amazing. One of the most spectacular views, a fascinating story, and a city still very intact for being millenniums old.
Honestly, I'd love to tell you that the silliest thing I did on this trip was turn beat red and dump a bottle of water all over myself.
But if I said that, I'd be lying!
You know you want to hear about what happened next...when rocks go flying.
What about you? What's the most proud you've been after a physical accomplishment?
Talk to me below, and don't forget...all comments of followers are entering themselves to win something from Israel, as well as a hearty gift card to one of your choosing: Amazon, Barns and Noble, iTunes. The prize pack keeps growing as I've thrown in a Neon Monkey and the newest CD of CR Smith
|Brosef and I - less red, but still....|