Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Day 30: Mount Nebo! Again!

March 30: We woke early for a 6:30am breakfast. Seemed like it had been weeks since we got to wake up for our usual 7:00am breakfast, but we woke up early today for two reasons. First, the weather forecast called for rain and we hoped an earlier start might help us get a little bit further down the trail before it started, and second, we were in Madaba and had to take a bus to where we got off the trail.

And thus, we had a 6:30am breakfast in time for a 7:30am departure in the hopes of getting to the trail and hiking by 8:00am. That was the plan, and that's what we did. More-or-less. =)

When we arrived at the trail, the sky looked dark and angry. We were also short one hiker, Jonathan, who had decided to take the day off. Smart guy, I thought. He'll avoid all the miserable rain and have a good ol' time in Madaba.

Although it wasn't raining, the wind was fierce. Which didn't bode especially well for me because if it started raining, my umbrella would be useless. I hoped and prayed the rain would hold off.

We hiked with minimal breaks, trying to take advantage of the rain holding off and finishing the day's hike as quickly as possible.

We stopped for lunch just below Mount Nebo where it was quiet and peaceful. A little bit of sun had come out, much to our surprise. Then we continued up to Mount Nebo where most of the hikers took a half hour break to explore the site.  I had visited before we started the hike, though, and didn't feel it was necessary to pay the entrance fee again. Instead, I rested outside and offered to watch everyone's backpacks so they didn't have to carry those around the site.

I spent the time pondering April Fools Day. It would arrive in two days, and I wanted to do something crazy that day, but what? My options were somewhat limited on the trail. I asked Lama if they celebrated April Fools Day in Jordan, or if it was that mostly an American thing. I got the impression that people did play pranks on each other, but perhaps it wasn't as popular as in America. But it was something that everyone, including locals, would know about.

I couldn't think of anything that I, personally, could do to prank people, but I took Ernie aside to discuss one idea in which I needed his help. He would give the weather report each evening during the evening briefing about what to expect the next day, and I suggested that tomorrow night, he would give the April Fools Day weather report... which would include super strange, extreme and bizarre weather. Snow and freezing rain at higher elevations in the morning, but it could warm to 40 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. Maybe be attacked by leprechauns when rainbows came out. The details didn't really matter, I assured Ernie. Just that it should be wild and bizarre. It did not have to be believable, although he should say it with a straight face.

And I suggested to Lama that she could provide a fake briefing as well. With crazy stuff like a 4:00am start time because we had to cover 35 kilometers for the day and therefore needed a super early start. The trail could wander in front of a toxic waste dump, but we wouldn't linger near it in any case because of the maximum security prison nearby.

And that Basha, our donkey, would be replaced with an elephant. And, just to be funny, the elephant had a nut allergy so nobody was allowed to eat any sorts of nuts that day.

Lama seemed to think that was funny but was worried about not providing a real briefing so people knew what to expect--which is a fair point. But I doubted anyone would believe the briefing as it became more and more ridiculous, so I said after it was over, she could just say, "April fools! Now here's the real briefing...."

And she seemed onboard with that idea. Perfect! It was more of a joke than a real prank, but it would still be fun. Ernie was willing to make up a fake weather report if Lama was willing to make up a fake briefing. All my cards were falling into place....

Everyone got done looking around Mount Nebo and we continued our hike down a particularly steep and treacherous embankment toward Moses Spring. There we took another short break, but the dark and angry clouds started rolling in again and we pushed on.

Remarkably, it didn't start to rain until about a half hour before we reached our destination, and it was only a light sprinkle. We felt we got really lucky with the weather!

Overnight, the rain was expected to be extremely heavy, however, and the support crew kept us at the same hotel in Madaba as we had last night. Which meant we arrived at a bus at the end of the day and took what seemed like a long bus ride back to Madaba.

Knaiseh Church Ruins
Sarah attempts some restoration work of the mosaic at the ruins

Lunch... yum! =)
Mount Nebo entrance
The route down from Mount Nebo was one of the steepest sections of the entire trail!

Moses Spring

You can tell it started sprinkling because everyone put on their rain gear.
Here's something you don't see very often in Jordan... a cow! It was just the one cow, though.
The bus back to Madaba. Also, JTA Batmobile, which I vowed never to ride in again. ;o)

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