After our 3 day tiyul in the negev, I can truly understand the psalmist's description of streams in the Negev: Awesome cavernous dry riverbeds which seem to stretch unto eternity, but finally join together into one large river, which could be infinitely strong when filled with water...This is analogous to the rebirth of the State of Israel where Jews streamed in from all corners of the world to build the amazing reality that is Israel!(based or Rashi's commentary on Psalms 126:4)
Last night, around 8 o'clock the 25 members of Nativ who will be spending the second half of the year on Kibbutz Sa'ad returned from our survival tiyul in the negev, specifically in the area around Machtesh(crater) Ramon. We headed out early on Sunday morning after tefillot and a quick breakfast, and drove out of Jerusalem on highway 1, before heading south towards Be'er Sheva and our destination of Mitzpe Ramon, the small development town which overlooks the crater. We arrived a park in Mitzpe Ramon around noon, where we were served a pretty delicious lunch of pita, bourekas, and deli. After benching, we reboarded our bus for the last time for 3 days to get to the start of our hike.
We got off the bus and immediately entered the ruins of a Nabatean fortress, which was used by this ancient desert people as a stop on their spice trading route. Sunday's hike was relatively flat and painless, which was a good way to ease into the trip for me. We got to our campsite, at the intersection of two dry riverbeds around 4 PM and laid , out our gear for the night. We then worked together as a group to prepare part of dinner, which ended up being very tasty. We had a bonfire after dinner where our guide, Yonatan, baked Bedouin pita bread and brewed tea with a plant we found along the way. While there were tents available, myself and a good number of others decided to sleep out under the stars, which was pretty neat. We went to sleep pretty early, since wake up the next morning was before sunrise at 4:45 AM. We davened shortly after 5, had a light breakfast, and then packed 2 more meals to eat on the trail. The hiking that day, about 10 hours of it, was a bit of a challenge for me, since I'm not in perfect shape; I needed help from friends at certain points along the way. Despite this, the experience, and the rewarding views from the top of the mountains we climbed were well worth the effort. That day we scaled Karbolet Harrarim, 564 m,and got an amazing vista of the entire Makhtesh spread before us. We spent the rest of the day making our way through the desert, and climbed over another mountain to reach Ein Geled, a remote natural aquifer which feeds many plants and animals in the area. We then stopped to daven Mincha, and descended into Nachal Geled, one of the above mentioned smaller streams. We ate dinner and chilled for a little bit, but this time we had we had an evening activity which involved going out into the desert, laying on a mat, and trying to apprecisate the unique sensual feast on our own. While it was an amazing activity, I along with some others as I understand, were quite wiped and feel asleep during this time. I went straight to bed when we returned to our camp for the night, and got a little bit of shut-eye
...until we were woken up at 5:30. Again we davened, had a light but nice breakfast, and headed out on the trail for our third and final day. The hike started out with about 4 kilometers of flat walking, which should have been easy if not for the blisters that had already developed on my feet; but I trudged along nonetheless. We stopped for Aruchat Eser (late morning meal) at the foot of Har Yahav (372m), which was one of the most challenging parts of the trip, because of the steep and strenuous climb.
It was not easy at all, but with encouragement from Yonatan our guide and my friends I finally made it, and it was quite worth the view. We did a group activity on top, took some photos, and then started our descent, which was long but much easier. After a few kilometers of flat walking, we reached the jeeps which would take us back to our buses. After lunch, we were rewarded with an amazing, crazily exhilarating jeep ride, after which we arrived back at our air conditioned bus. We made one quick bathroom stop (the first real one in days!), and then had a pretty nice dinner at the Massada youth hostel, where we even got to cool of in the pool! The following is a bunch of us who chose to cool down by dipping in the kiddie pool
This morning, after having a nice sleep back in the Sukkah, I decided to daven shacharit at Beit Knesset Yeshurun, a Modern Orthodox Shul down the street since Nativ had no organized davening. It was a pretty nice service, including Birkat Kohanim (x2) and plenty of room to walk around for Hoshanot!
מועדים לשמחה! Moadim L'simcha!