Mountain Tigers, ASSEMBLE!

Trip Start Dec 07, 2009
Trip End Sep 26, 2010

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Flag of Egypt  , Red Sea and Sinai,
Wednesday, September 22, 2010

About 2 hours after leaving Dahab we arrived in Saint Catherine. It was approximately 1:30am. We met our local mountain guide. His name was Eid. We got a quick rundown of Mt. Sinai from him before we started our trek to the top. Eid has climbed the mountain over 2800 times so far and his nickname is the mountain tiger. Our group of 10 quickly became his group of mountain tigers. The sheer number of tourists detracted a bit from the experience but it was still quite neat climbing a mountain at 3 in the morning with lots of camels and people. There were hundreds of tourists just walking the whole way up the mountain so it felt a bit too commercialized and crowded. There was one good thing about having lots of people on the mountain though. When you looked up ahead of you in the dark you could see a line of flashlights and torches snaking up the mountain. Our group of mountain tigers was good and we climbed quite quickly. Since there were so many tourists sometimes it would be difficult to stay with the group so at every tea house along the way Eid would stand off to the side. He would then yell "Mountain tigers, ASSEMBLE!" It was handy if we had become separated. I liked this and also joined in the chant at every available opportunity. 

After 2 and a half hours of gradual steady incline we neared the summit. Only 750 steps to go but the sunrise wasn't until 6.30 and it was only 5am. I took this time to man up a bit and have a sleep on some rocks. Toughened me right up. Especially with the cold wind blowing around as well. Yes, very manly. At 6am, the mountain tigers started the final climb and made it with plenty of time for sunrise. It was great up top even though it was crowded. The moon just dipped below the Western horizon a few minutes before the sun came up in the East. Looking out over the rocky expanse was quite neat.

Eid, Alex, Nathan and I took the hard route down with a couple of others. 4000 steps to the bottom: My knees were a bit sore at the end but it felt good getting down to the bottom.

Once back down, we waited until Saint Catherine's Monastery opened before having a quick look around inside. Then we spent a few hours messing around because of some poor scheduling and mixed up schedules but we killed most of the time with friendly insults over breakfast. Boys being boys I suppose. Eventually at noon we left for Cairo and everyone was pretty grumpy by this point but I didn't mind so much. This was my last bus journey of my entire trip so I was happy to get it over with. Most of the way the scenery consisted of dusty rocks and desert. After about 6 hours on the road we went under the Suez Canal. It was pretty cool to drive under the water but unfortunately we didn't get to see any large ships passing by overhead. A few hours more and finally we arrived in Cairo. What a relief! The end of buses and almost the end of a very long journey for me!
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