Monday, September 2, 2019

Day 38: The Forests of Jordan

April 7: It rained a bit during the night so I was glad to have put the rainfly on my tent. I usually didn't, but I had a feeling it would be needed during the night and it definitely paid off!

It cleared up by morning, however, and we woke to beautiful, clear skies in time for the usual 7:00am breakfast with an 8:00am departure.

The common area of our camp

Temperatures were warm, though, which didn't bode well for the afternoon.

We soon reached a viewpoint where below us was a large valley. The trail descended to the bottom of the valley, of course, before rising back to the very top where we could see Aljoun Castle. That was our destination for the day. It didn't look especially far, but there was going to be a lot of elevation gains and losses to reach it.

Part of the day, went through trees that provided lots of shade. You might not think that the Middle East or Jordan in particular has forests, but they do exist! Granted, the country isn't exactly overrun with forests, but the northern part of the country has some actual (but small) forests filled with lots and lots of trees. It was nice!

After a nice lunch break in the shade of a forest, the trail followed a freshly tarred road that was absolutely miserable to walk on. The tar clung to our shoes like thick mud, but this stuff was much more difficult to scrape off. We followed the road for a couple of kilometers before the road turned to dirt and the fresh tar stopped. We wondered if we'd be able to ever get the gunk off our shoes.

This was the worst surface of the entire trail that we had to walk on!

The last push into Aljoun was in the hot, baking sun. We didn't travel very far today, only about 17 kilometers, but it was brutal with lots of ups and downs and the oppressive heat was thick with humidity. Nobody seemed to be hiking very fast. We were tired, hot and sweaty and couldn't wait to finish the day's hike.

A kilometer or two before reaching our destination, George and Ali drove up with a bag of ice cream cones they purchased from a store in town. What a delicious and wonderful surprise!  I took the vanilla option (we could choose between vanilla or chocolate).

After the short ice cream break, we marched onward soon arriving at the base of Aljoun Castle, built to protect the region from the Crusaders.

We didn't go into the castle, though. Not yet, at least. We passed by it and checked into a nearby hotel for the night. Tomorrow was a zero day and we would have all day to explore the area and the castle on our own. For today, we were done.

I spent the evening catching up on emails and messages in the lobby of the hotel (the Internet didn't work in the rooms) where it was cooler. The lobby wasn't air-conditioned, or at least if it was they weren't using any, but it was in the shade and next to an open window with a breeze, it was comfortable.

Near midnight, I tried to sneak quietly into my room but the large, metal door slammed shut behind me with a deafening thud that I was certain woke up the whole hotel. Oops! It didn't help when I then tripped over my own gear on the floor and slamming into the closet doors which shut with a loud slam. At least the door for the room was closed, which I hoped muffled the sound of the closet doors slamming shut. Sorry, everyone!

We used this spring to wet down our hats and faces. It felt awesome!

Taking a short break!
Aljoun Castle

Some areas had enough trees that there was a real forest we could walk through!

Arriving at our hotel for the night! We'd spend two nights here since we had a day off tomorrow.

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