Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Day 27: The Second Wadi

March 27: For the second day in a row, we got an early start. Today would be a bit long in an attempt to catch up to the schedule after our unexpected zero day in Karak and until we caught up, we would be getting breakfast and hitting the trail an hour earlier than usual.

I wasn't much excited about having to wake up so early this morning! =)

The first obstacle in the morning--or the second if waking up for breakfast at 6:00 is considered an 'obstacle'--was crossing the creek at the bottom of the first wadi. The creek looked a lot better where we actually crossed it than it did right next to the campsite, though.

The guides had a plan for getting us through safely by stretching a rope across. One person at each end tied the rope around their waists and pulled it as tightly as possible while a second person on each side helped pull the rope tight. It seemed unnecessary, but maybe they used it in case the dam upstream unexpectedly released a lot more water.

Most hikers took off their shoes to cross but I preferred to leave mine on as I marched across. I felt that it gave me better stability in the water and my shoes would dry relatively quickly anyhow. I filmed as several members of our group crossed--just in case one of them slipped. If that were to happen, it seemed like something that should be captured on film. After several people crossed without any trouble, though, that seemed unlikely and I stopped filming.

After the last person crossed, a tug of war started between the two guys on each end of the rope as each side tried to pull the other side into the river. There was some cheering and laughing, but the two guys tied in at the end managed to extract themselves before anyone got too wet.

A few minutes after we continued our hike, we spotted a crab. I always knew, in theory, that there's no reason crabs can't survive in all sorts of environments, but I still found it somewhat surprising to see one in the middle of a desert in the Middle East more than a hundred feet below sea level.

A bit further, we saw a couple of small waterfalls--another sight that I found somehow surprising deep in a Middle Eastern desert. If you told me that I'd see crabs and waterfalls this morning, I'd have thought you were crazy!

The day was mostly sunny with a few clouds, and all morning we were hiking uphill as we had to climb about 1000 meters to get out of the first wadi. As the day progressed, temperatures increased. It was, in a word, exhausting. At one point, even the donkey carrying our extra water called it quits. I'm not sure exactly what happened with it. It seemed like it got caught up in some rocks and ended up laying down and refusing to get up. Lama told us to keep on hiking and the donkey would catch up later, and as I continued onward, I looked back occasionally to see what was happening. It looked like they were taking the water off the donkey, perhaps to lighten its load enough to encourage the donkey to stand up again. Whatever they did, it must have worked because the donkey had caught up again a mere ten minutes later.

We finally reached the summit of the ridge which had exploded into an enormous wildflower display. It took our breath away at its suddenness. The terrain we had been climbing was largely dry and lifeless with an occasional flower here and there, but the wildflower spectacular was invisible until we made it up on the plateau and it was just a few steps away. It was a little amusing watching as each person crested the summit and gasped with delight when they saw the wildflowers.

The wild flowers on the plateau between the two wadis were amazing!

At the top, the wind blew wildly, but it felt great given how hot it had gotten. At least at first, it felt great. The trail followed the edge of the plateau for a couple of kilometers, flat and easy. With the easy hiking, I wasn't working up a sweat anymore and the wind chill was unexpectedly brutal. I know it wasn't just me, either, because everyone else started pulling out coats and jackets to stay warm.

From the plateau, we could see the second of the infamous Three Wadis. It plunged deeply into earth. Not quite as deep as the first wadi, but a formidable obstacle nonetheless. In the distance, we could see where the two wadis merged before the water flowing down them merged before emptying into the Dead Sea in the distance.

We headed down into the second wadi, which went a lot faster than our climb out of the first wadi but only because going downhill is generally faster and easier than going uphill.

Late in the afternoon, we reached the bottom where another river blocked the trail. This creek was considerably lower and slower than the creek from the morning, however, so the guides didn't set up a rope to help with the crossing. It wasn't needed. They had brought the rope--just in case! But we wouldn't use it.

The second ford!

The crossing still took some time, though, as most people took off their shoes to cross then had to put them back on again on the other side. I, again, stomped across with my shoes on.

It was late in the day and we were all tired from the day's hike. It had been a long day already with a huge up and a huge down, but we weren't done yet. No, our original schedule had us camping somewhere near the bottom of this wadi last night. If we stopped here, we'd be a full day behind schedule. We pushed on and started the long climb out of the second wadi.

Fortunately, we wouldn't have to climb all the way out of the wadi. Our campsite was set up about halfway up the wadi, and we stumbled into it late in the day tired and exhausted.

We ate dinner, then most of us headed to sleep almost immediately because tomorrow we had another early morning start.

Femmy fords the first creek

It's not exactly a roaring waterfall, but even this small one was a surprise to see!

'Twas a long climb up from the bottom!

The Dead Sea is in the distance, but it's hard to see through all the haze today. It's right about where Qussai's head is located, where the two wadis merge together.
Tim (from the United States) takes a break
Maria from the Netherlands
Sawsan from Lebanon always looked like she was happy! =)
Who knew Jordan could be so green?!
Black iris
The second of three wadis had another pretty big drop, and then we'd have to hike back to the top on the other side.

Frog in a puddle! =)

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