Mt.Sinai in the dark..with lots of other Pilgrims

Trip Start Apr 29, 2009
Trip End May 11, 2009

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Flag of Egypt  , Red Sea and Sinai,
Saturday, May 9, 2009

We decided to this sunrise hike to Mt. Sinai early this morning, because seeing the sunrise at the top was something that was life changing, magical...and to walk back down the steps of Redemption, the same steps that Moses used, all 3750 of them. So this was our plan...and one of the reasons we took that 10 hour bus ride over to the Red Sea, to experience this amazing journey.
Our day started out at actually  the night before, as we were picked up at 11 pm for it was a 2 hour drive to the bottom of the mountain and the location of St. Catherine's Monastery which we would visit the morning after our hike. The van sent out for us was full , so the leftovers ( us) were crammed into a old staion wagon ( a.k.a. Taxi) and started our drive to the mountain. There seems to be no speed limits, and the cars have no seatbelts. Our driver had only brights for headlights, or no lights at all, so whenever a car approached , he would turn his lights off completely. He was also going at least 100, but his spedometer was broken, so I really will never know. So, while everyone else was passed out in the car, my eyes were glued to the road, and I was wide awake .  I was lucky enough to get the middle seat in the back seat in between two gentlemen, one from Germany, with very long legs, and an Aussie with no sleep and a tank top. And I was crammed in the middle between the two, for our middle of the night , two hour drive....ahhhh, traveling is so glorious sometimes :)
When we arrived at the mountain at around 2 am, there were alot of buses , big and small filled with tourists just like us, with this adventure ahead of us. We split into groups , ours Dehab, about 20 of us. We were told to stay together as much as possible, and to not wander off, why would we want to wander off in complete darkness off the trail in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country?  But I'm sure their instructions were there because of some tourist getting lost or worse one time. The night was beautiful! It couldn't have been more perfect. Full moon, and not too cold and no breeze. We were surprised to find that Dahab is known for its great windsurfing, because of its many days of wind here, and we have had quite a few, so it was great to have a break from that on our hike.
On our way up, alot of people had flashlights, some on their heads like miners, so  we followed behind the lights as we climbed.  They also rented camels if you didn't want to walk, and alot of the older travelers and a group of nuns passed us by as well.  The hike started off really smooth, with easy trails and alot of switchbacks, which made the hike not as steep and difficult. It was funny to see quite a few small rest stops with small cabins selling water and coffee and snacks...they looked like little miner shacks and even had refuge inside for cold windy nights, we were so lucky to have such a warm, calm, moonlit night for our hike.
Toward the top we came upon the 750 steps to the top, and no camels past this trip, everyone had to walk it. They were also renting blankets and small mattresses to sit on once you reached the top, since you had to sit on the cold boulders waiting for the sun to rise and the temperature drops to the 30s. We got a mattress and blanket to share . How all of those people fit up on that small space on top is beyond me, but Mo and I found a great boulder to cuddle up together with a great view of the horizon, and waited out the big event.
For all of you that know me, know that I am easily impressed and find beauty and joy in the most simplest things in life. But also , I have been lucky enough to have seen and been to the most amazing places and seen some of the worlds most admired and sought out treasures.....The Great Wall in China, the Eiffel Tower in when I was ready to be blown away...We hiked for 3 hours, in the middle of the night, and we were now freezing ,bundled up together on this rock on the top of Mt. Sinai...and here comes the sun...everyone has their camera ready...
Well....I sort of compare that moment as one to visiting Old Faithful in Yellowstone last year with my mom and daughter last year waiting with all those tourists for the big moment....and then thinking..." That was it???"
Well, the sunrise didn't blow us away....I think sunrises are overrated, and I'm been blown away by many a sunsets in my day ( my favorite) but it all about the journey and not the destination...and the journey up there was amazing!!!! The journey down was even better...we got to take the stairs of Redemption down, built by a monk who was redeeming himself,,,he must of done something really bad, because their were 3000 steps.
The views and mountain going down were breathtaking, my favorite part of the journey. And we had light to see our way know that we had that rockin sunrise!! :)
At the bottom, we visited St. Catherine's Monastery which was beautiful. There was a very old church, and room down below with skulls and bones of hundreds of Monks who spend their days worshiping  and protecting the church. We also visited the burning bush that as legend goes, it was there that God spoke to Moses. The bush was protected by a wall, and the bush was a beautiful shade of green, and looked more like a tree with its color more than a bush. We saw a small group of worshipers standing over a very sick man that was laying on a bench close to the tree and their was a priest standing over him waving his hands over his body with hopes to relieve him of his sickness and pain. I wonder how many people make the long journey from far away with ailments hoping for a miracle. It was a magical maybe miracles can take place again.
After our long day and night, it was back to our hotel for a long rest. What a day! And yes,,,,I did it in Sandals...and I believe besides Moses, I was the only one .
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worldtravler79 on

Sunrises are always over rated! Remember Ankor Wat? That was ok but I would have rather had more know me and my sleep :-) Cannot wait to talk to you about everything!!!

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