Day 16: Wadi David

Trip Start May 14, 2008
Trip End Jun 17, 2008

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Flag of Israel  , Dead Sea Region,
Saturday, May 31, 2008

We lucked out today. Zabu is guiding a Kibbutz sponsored morning walking tour of Wadi David at Ein Gedi.  The Kibbutz has a full size tour bus for transportation to the Wadi, which is only about 5 minutes away.  As it turns out, there is only one other person signed up and kudos to the Kibbutz for still running the tour!  We follow the tour bus, so that we can spend some additional time exploring the Wadi after the guided walking tour.  So the only bus passengers are Zabu and the one guest. After using our national park pass for entrance (what a great value!), Zabu reminds us about water.  We refill our bottles in a fountain at the entrance. We are gradually learning that water is our key to life here in the desert and it is extremely important to stay hydrated; because of the desert any perspiration is evaporated so quickly that you don't feel like you are sweating.  At this point in our trip, we need reminders to carry water and drink.

It is about 8:30 AM, as we start our walk.  Within moments, Zabu points out the Hyrax, the animal that looks like a large bunny rabbit!  They blend in so well with the environment, that I'm sure we would have walked by without ever noticing them.  As we begin to look closer, we see one in the tree!  And then Zabu points out the Ibex; it looks like a goat with horns.  We see more as we cue into the environment. We see a mother and baby!  We are so glad we got up for this walk and chose not to sleep in!  The animals are out in the early morning and seek shade as the day gets hotter.   Today's intention, "there are no ordinary moments", is being realized early in the day!

The path through Wadi David is clearly marked.  There really is no need for a guide from that perspective.  But it was very interesting to hear Zabu's commentary on the rocks and the water in the area.   He points out rock formations and tells us about the geology of the area.  Take a look at the photos to get a feel for the area.  A wadi is a canyon or dry river bed; this wadi had fresh water flowing with green plants growing in the area!  Such a stark contrast to the surrounding area! Colors of brown earth and rock contrasted with the green plants.  Fresh water set against the backdrop of the salty Dead Sea. Steep canyon with high walls set against the flatness of the Dead Sea plain.  This wadi is a microcosm of Israel, full of contrasts.

Before returning back to the bus, Zabu reviews the map of the area and makes some additional hiking suggestions for us.  He and the other guest set off on the return path, and I am set to embark further up the wadi.  Harvey, however, has another idea.  On our last trip here, we did not go swimming in the pools at Wadi David. He remembered this, and has his eye on one particular pool with a waterfall that he has sited and wants to go in for a dip before hiking further.   I have worn my swimsuit under my clothes and Harvey found a boulder to change behind.  We are prepared!  I am so glad we did this now, rather than waiting till later in the day on our return trip.  There are very few people in the Wadi now and we have not a clue how busy it will be later in the day!  The water is surprisingly cool or maybe it is that we just felt so hot. In any case, the only way we are going to get in the water is to jump or dive in, which is exactly what we did! We swim under the waterfall and feel it pounding down on our heads!   The fury of the water and sound of the waterfall surrounds us as its vibrancy touches our skin and our souls.  Life is so good!

Now we start our hike higher up the Wadi, heading towards Ein Gedi Spring.  The path gets steeper and steeper. Harvey handles these trails with the sureness of a mountain goat.  At points on the path, there are handrails in the wall to hold onto, which I appreciate very much.  Sometimes the path has dirt as a path, sometimes the rocks were like steps, but it is always UP!  We look down the canyon and the people keep getting smaller and smaller. We stop to drink several times and enjoy the views as they enfold before us.  This land is living sculpture and is beautiful!

We have a map with us and the paths are well marked, so we find the Ein Gedi Spring with no problem.  We decide to relax in the Ein Gedi pool.  There is absolutely no one around so we just sit looking out at the mountains.  Eventually a woman from Switzerland and her son arrive.  They join us in the pool and take a few pictures for us.  They are very pleasant. I was concerned about going down the same way we came up because it was so steep.  So Harvey set off to investigate another possible path that descends into Wadi Arugot.  He comes back and declares that we will definitely go back the same way.  I swallow my concern and decide to go into the spring.  Better to enjoy the now!  We both sit in the shallow spring, enjoying the quiet and coolness as we begin to notice a group of Hyrax in the area!  We watch them dart about and soon some other people approach.  Since no food is allowed in the Wadi, we need to give ourselves time to descend so we can have lunch at a reasonable hour.

I want to say at this point that I am very proud that I hiked up and came down with style. For some reason, things look scarier to me going down than going up.  I'm not crazy about heights.  Today, not a whine from me, just slow steady steps.  At times, I stop to look around and enjoy the view.  At one point, Harvey stood in front of me at a turn in the path and said don't look up, just look at my feet and keep walking.  I look back up at some point and understand and appreciate the help at that point - it was a sheer drop!  All that conditioning training has definitely made a difference in my enjoyment of today.  I feel like I have not only the cardio endurance for the hike, but the balance that gives me a feeling of confidence on narrow sheer paths. Thank you again Courtenay (my web trainer/high altitude hiking & conditioning coach) and Kevin (Pilates)!

After lunch, we come back to our room at Kibbutz Ein Gedi and take a long nap. When we wake up, Harvey comments that he hasn't slept this well in years.  Maybe this Israel trip is giving us the much needed change of pace, rest and rejuvenation we are in so much need of.

Before dinner, we go to the lobby to check mail and we discover that the laptop is not working. We think it's the power adapter.   We're trying to stay calm and consider our alternatives.  We go back to our room and get the Apple technical support number as well as our support agreement number.  The Apple support person agrees to send out another power adapter, but when she learns we're in Israel says that they don't ship to Israel; we don't stay on the line long enough to find out why. Hindsight says we probably should have really pushed this issue up to management at this point.  Tomorrow we are off for 5 1/2 days of touring in Jordan and the Negev and we are not anticipating any internet, let alone cell phone access.  I am concerned that without the computer, how will we upload our photos?  Do we have sufficient memory cards for the remainder of our time in Israel?  Who knows?  We use the hotel computer to ask Trip Advisors for suggestions.  Thank goodness there is almost immediate group brainstorming and contact information for when we get to Jerusalem. Relief.  I comb through our luggage looking for the note pads that I had planned to use for journaling during the next portion of the trip in Jordan. We were always planning on leaving the laptop with our luggage in Eilat and keeping manual notes.  How quaint that seems now that I've become used to freely writing stream of consciousness journals on the laptop!

Before leaving home, I had made a separate packing list for the next five-day portion of our trip. I find that now and look it over.  Special amendments include leaving all the medication we will not be using in Eilat in the air conditioned office of Desert Eco Tours.  Check check double check that all the camera batteries are fully charged! Tomorrow, we're dropping the car off in Eilat, so everything now has to fit in the luggage!  Mission accomplished.  I take the itinerary for this Dead Sea portion of the trip and pack it away.  The Desert Echo Tours itinerary for the Jordan/Negev is pulled out and put with the driving maps for tomorrow morning.  

Click here for today's photos!
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