It was clear skies the day we left. We taxied from the Shelter Hostel to the trail after an oatmeal breakfast. One would think we could walk the 7 k but we figured we better save our strength as the first day was supposed to be one of the hardest. And it was good that we did!
The trail started with a view of the Eilat Inlet off the Red Sea on one side and a steep 3000 meter ascent on the other. For hours it snaked up, down and around mountains of multi- coloured sand rock. It was strenuous, beautiful, sometimes treacherous but being in the quiet solitude of the desert was bliss. Especially after the airports, hotels and taxis.
The technical challenge of the trail is farther outside of Jen’s comfort zone than she anticipated and I often will hear muttered curses of “this is crazy” behind me as she digs into her deep well of strength and courage. She’s a real trooper and is doing awesome. With some fairly extreme hiking behind me I am able to help her through some tough spots, but by the end of the day we are both done in.
Shortly before dark on our first day we scrambled up the side of a wadi (a canyon that can flash flood during rainstorms; it wasn’t raining but better safe than sorry) and set up camp on a large rock shelf overlooking the canyon with the Egyptian border on the far side. It felt very remote. With the exception of seeing some day hikers our first hour on the trail, we hadn’t seen a soul all day.
We didn’t end up finishing the first days hike until the end of the second day and by then our water was gone and we were parched. When we finally arrived to the designated camp spot we couldn’t find our water cache. Turns out we were at the wrong place and had to hike an extra 4K to get it. Groan!
A crazy hard wind was blowing last night and we woke this morning to find our tents wrapped around our bodies. Then trying to take my tent down, it was whipped from my hands and into a thorny acacia tree. Unfortunately, it ripped it in several places and tonight it is patched with Band-Aids, as well as Jennifer’s blistered toes (check out her blog of the trip at jenniferwilliamson.ca ).
The nights are cold, the days are warm, the pack is heavy, the food is meagre, the trail is hard, the laughs are plentiful. So far, so good.