Friday, May 24, 2013

The Day Hiking Kicked My Sorry White...

Kelsey's Israel Blundering Confessional: Part 3

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 well as saw some sites we all could have done without.

Russians don't follow the "NO SWIMMING" rule
With the exception of missing my step and clattering down onto my face and dropping the camera I'd borrowed from my mother (and didn't get a scratch!).

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.

Masada ruins
As I pressed on alone, the metallic taste in my mouth grew strong. I was sweating everywhere- EVERYWHERE. My parched mouth couldn't be satisfied with what little water I had. As if from a movie, I could hear the vultures calling out for my defeat, demanding I drop so they might feast...the world blackened around me. It was the end...
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 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....


J. S. Bailey said...

I completely understand, Kelsey--I am not athletic, either! But I do love a good hike so long as I take it easy along the way.

Last year my husband and I went to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. The scenery down there is so beautiful that I could have stayed there forever.

One day we decided that we should climb Mt. LeConte. It was a 10-mile round trip hike. Fortunately the weather was perfect. It took us about three hours to get to the top, and it was worth every minute of the climb. I would love to do it again!

Anonymous said...

I am so impressed! 29 is a rock star time! NICE!

Well, I am one of those cautionary tales about people who sit at their desks all day, 12 plus hours, lives the sedentary life, and rivals the weight of a small Sumu wrestler so my accomplishments are relative. But when I decided to go to London with my son's band, I knew there would be tons of walking. So I started walking about nine months in advance to prepare for the trip. The first day I walked to the mail box. The second day I went 3 feet past the mail box, and I added about three feet per day until I walked my 30 minute lunch break every day. By the time October came I was doing good for a Sumu sedentary stroller. We went to Tybee Island with my mom and they decided to climb the lighthouse. 328 steps. I didn't honestly think I could make it, but my geriatric parents were going to do it and I wasn't going to be out done. So I lugged my poundage up all 328 steps. Talk about elated! Yes I was so proud. I was barely out of breath, no real pain, I did it just fine. Coming down was a bit more of a challenge. lol. Fear of falling got in the way of quick progress, but I made it a step at a time. For those of you who are sniggering behind your hands, remember, old lady here, let's see you do that carrying 100 lbs of potatoes around your middle. :)

La, the Sumu Climbing Champ of the South.

JB Lynn said...

You did it! Congrats! The pics are amazing and you should be soooo proud of yourself!

I completed by first half-marathon (well, more than 13.1 miles because the markers blew away and I got a bit lost) in a full-on Nor' Easter on a course that hugged the ocean with the Coast Guard announcing everyone should take cover indoors...I was pretty darn proud...and wet....and cold. ;-)

Katie Cross said...

Uh, can I raise a hand and vote for the neon monkey?!?

Just kidding. Kind of.

I'm the athletic-climbing-mountains-since-I-was-able-to-breathe type. I have lots of hiking stories. But I did finish my first marathon in the same blurry-eyed-the-end-is-nigh kind of way. Then I dissolved into my mothers arms at the end. I was like 22. :)

I just thought you should know that your description of the blackness coming to get you, along with your description of the torment of the hike, was perfect. But then, when you said it was 29 minutes long, I burst out laughing. I'm not going to lie- I totally thought it would take hours from what I saw in the picture.

SO.... you freaking rock.

Bailey Karfelt said...

(Part One) I have so many stories about this topic, but I’m going to stick to the one that has traumatized me. Mostly because, while I never want to do it again, I’m proud I did, and also because it’s a terrible, yet funny story.

Sailing. December 2011. Wales, UK. Menai Strait, one of the most treacherous sailing areas in the UK. Perfect location to train a bunch of sailing newbies, right? The first half of the day, my group split into two teams, girls and boys, joined by one sailing “expert” each on a keel boat. Ours happened to be a newbie who didn’t trust us to help out, and to summarize just the first half of the morning, we might have gotten marooned and had an emergency boat pull us back out. At which point, our usual fearless pint-sized leader came along in another boat and yelled instructions at our team of four to aid our embarrassed expert on this intensely windy day. It went okay, if you count nearly capsizing two dozen times in an hour, but whatever; the point is, we never actually fell in.

So fast forward to the afternoon, and we’re switching places with another group to go on the little plastic dinghies. The other group makes it to the keel boats and then is sent back to shore because of how bad the whitecaps are…which apparently isn’t an issue for the plastic dinghies?! So off we go in teams of two, balanced on these little Playmate-type plastic floating devices, all of us quivering in fear of falling into the freezing waters. We race; my partner and I win each time (how? because I rock at steering and she was wicked good at handling the sail. But really, fear of cold is a great enabler!). A few people fall off their dinghies or tip, but are soon back on their way. Our slightly mental leader decides racing is fun, so she divides us into teams of four and instructs us to go out two at a time across the Strait, circle back, and send the next group, to see who can make six successful laps first. Now, this is almost impossible considering there are WHITECAPS, so we are unwillingly instructed to turn around before we hit the worst. My team is off to a great start thanks to my partner and I’s skill, and the fact that the other team keeps falling off their dinghy- we triple lap them in no time. Cue our final lap, and our leader decides my partner and I have an unfair advantage and does the unthinkable- she makes us wait for them to catch up, and then switch places on the dingy. So now I’m handling the sail for the first time, and my partner is asking me how steering works. Petrified but already being pushed to sea by our enthusiastic team members, we simply look at each other. I tell her, “I don’t want to die.” “I know,” she says quietly. “Let’s just…tell each other what to do.”

Bailey Karfelt said...

(PartTwo) We actually did great at first, muttering instructions while staring fearfully at each other. And then the other team lost their balance and capsized, so we thought we had it. We reached the whitecaps and cautiously set about turning as smoothly as possible (the most difficult part, spinning a 180 on a plastic boat in treacherous water, while switching sides with your partner WITHOUT putting the boat off balance)…but a big gust of wind hit, and a HUGE wave hit our boat mid-turn and sent half of it underwater, and then the next wave caught our sail going under the boat and flipped it completely. Slow-motion, of course, because we both clearly remember looking at each other and going, “Oh no.” In summary: we went catapulting through the air, the dinghy flew up into the air behind us. I hit water and dove down, swimming like mad since I knew that boat was coming down on top of me. I got hit by the mast, fractured my shin (which actually takes an entire year to heal), experienced the panic of not knowing which way was up, and eventually came up for air, only to discover that our dinghy was gone, my friend was across the Strait and the emergency boat had left the other team stranded in the water and rushed to find the “missing person” (me). Apparently the lookout had panicked when only one person surfaced, so I was picked up by my helmet and thrown to safety. It then took close to an hour to recover our dinghy. It had blown against shore in an area inaccessible by boat, so the emergency boat had to dump us in the water while we swam to the dinghy and dragged it back out to the Strait. Yes, it was December, and yes, it was freezing.

And my partner and I vowed to never go sailing again (although, we were pretty pleased with our team and instructors dubbing it the Best Wipeout they’d ever seen).

Kelsey-plain and simple said...

J.S - 10 miles! Oh my! That's an amazing hike :) Well done!

La - Ha. Ha. Ha you beautiful vixen. Yet I will say congrats on the stairs. That sounds like scary awesome stuff!

JB - Wow! I'm proud for you! That's amazing! When the Coast Guard is stopping know you've reached an incredible feat!

Katie - girl, I'm so glad I made you laugh. That thing was 5 miles of STEEP! I thought I might die. I didn't...but, still.

Bailey that is horrific and amazing. The trainers should be held accountable for your wipe-out. Who handicaps people like that? Come on!

Bella Harte said...

I love to hike, it's my main form of exercise these days but my story goes back a little further in time.

I used to have a horse when I was younger, his name was Charlton, a beautiful pure white gelding, he glimmered in the sunlight, plus he had eyelashes that would have made you weep! My proudest day was when we won every single first place rosette in our class at Pony Club, every jump was perfection, not a hoof was put wrong. Dressage was a dream, he floated above the ground as if he had wings. It was a very long day, but the end result was worth every moment of preparation and performance, Charlton excelled and was an awesome sight to behold, there wasn't enough room on his bridle to fit all the red ribbons.

That was a truly outstanding day for me, 7 trials and 7 triumphs!

R.I.P Charlton who died at the grand old age of 30, I had him for 18 years and he is still sorely missed today.

Kelsey-plain and simple said...

Bella that is a beautiful story, thank you for sharing it :)
Charlton sounds divine and I can bet you were so proud when you two won! Congratulations are in order...better late than never!

Stephanie Pazicni Karfelt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie Pazicni Karfelt said...

Wow, after reading all those stories I had to scroll back up to see what the question was again. I had my horrific mosquito-infested swamp hike in mind, but that doesn't work because I wasn't proud afterwards.

Hiking the Grand Canyon would be it. I run, so hiking isn't normally hard, but ten miles down isn't something I trained for. How can you train for that? It involved snow, cramp-ons, and then desert on the floor of the canyon. People who hike from the rim to Phantom Ranch have a unique gait for a couple of days after. It's called the canyon shuffle, and some hikers cry at the top of the steps to the cantina, before attempting to walk the few steps down, or maybe that was just me.

Hiking the ten miles up was cake compared to going down - though I wouldn't want to do it in summer! The floor is about twenty-five degrees hotter than the rim. Oh, and your toenails fall off afterwards.

Fun times.

Linnette R Mullin said...

I climbed to the top of Clingman's Dome on top of Old Smoky. Twice. Does that count? :D

Call Me Heretic said...

I hiked to the top of Tri-state peak. If you ever go there - do not believe the signs - they say 1/4 of a mile, but I'm fairly certain it was more like 2. 2 miles at 45 degree angles. (And since it was supposed to be a quick jaunt - no one brought water.)