Saturday, May 5, 2018

Day 13: Hava night camp to Akev night camp - 7th April 2018

I woke up early, and at 6:20 I already started walking.

The first part of the day was relatively easy and uneventful. I took a detour to see the Zinim caves, which looked like a set from a James Bond movie. They were apparently built to store oil (it is close to the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeway), but abandoned after they found the oil leaked (which doesn't sound like a great explanation, surely they could have just coated the walls with a non-porous surface . . . )

From the caves there was a nice view down to the Zin valley

After some more walking, signs of water started to be seen, leading up to some big springs.

When I got to this ponit, I could see no other way to continue apart from crossing the "river" (I made it without falling in )

The highlight of the day was reaching the Akev spring. However, it seems like I wasn't the only one who had the idea to come here (although most of the people came by jeep not walking ). . . After lunch and a dip in the freezing but refreshing water, I continued on

A few kilometers later the ascent to Hod Akev started. The way up was a good climb (about 150m up) but not too difficult, altough it was getting very hot. 

The view from the top was fantastic though 

The way down from Hod Akev was much, much more challenging - no photos as I was too concerned with not falling! I was happy to get to the bottom, to the end of the day's walking (Hod Akev night camp).

When I was on top of Hod Akev, I realized that from the campground the walk back to the main road is up (I had assumed down . . .), about 5 km. Thankfully, however, a generous couple picked me up after 1 minute of walking and gave me a ride all the way to my car in Mitzpe Ramon (thanks!), allowing me to make it back home in time for the Mimouna celebrations at my wife's brother's house.

Due to the weather and time, I think the next instalment will have to wait, unfortunately, until after the summer, around sukkot.

Day 12: From Mitzpe Ramon to Hava night camp - 6th April 2018

I set off from home early in the morning (around 5:30) to drive to Mitzpe Ramon. As it was the last day of Pesach, there was no public transport so driving was the only option. I parked and started walking at around 8am.

After leaving the town, the first part of the walk goes by the sculpture park. It looked like it has seen better days . . . but still some nice sculptures.

The path continued along the maktesh for a few more hours (17km in total!). At one point I took the old Israel trail for about 10 minutes before realizing my mistake and heading back. There were a few nice lookouts, including one with maps to help identify the features.

By the time I took the short detour to Meizad Mahmal (a small fortification) I was pretty hot and tired.  The fortress is at the top of a climb out of the Maktesh. As it was the middle of the day and already pretty hot, I was grateful for the few cm of shade granted by the wall to eat my lunch.

After some more walking, I reached Nahal Hava, a nice canyon, and a great change of scenery.

Unfortunately, there was only a little bit of water in the Hava pits, and from the look and smell not something to go swimming in.

I met a few people on the way also on the Israel trail, we walked also to another spring (Ein hava), but it was also dry. We made it to the very windy campground at a reasonable hour, after dinner I was exhausted and went to sleep fairly early.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Day 11: From Gevanim night camp to Mitzpe Ramon - 25th February, 2018

While I was getting ready in the morning, a fox (I think . . .) visited the campsite to go through rubbish left behind (look carefully in the middle of the picture)

I set off again early from the night camp. The day started with a 3km walk to #40 road.

After crossing the road, the first climb for the day, with some great views over the Maktesh.

I walked past the "Ammonites wall" where there were lots of clear ammonite fossils (extinct marine life that lived in spiral shells). I was expecting something small, but they were huge (30-40cm diameter I would guess). 

There was another (more challenging) climb up to "Shen Ramon", which also had great views over the Maktesh

After that, the trail heading down into the Maktesh, mostly along Nahal Ramon (Ramon river).

The walking in the Maktesh was relatively easy. 

I resisted the option to save 5.5km and take the short-cut to Mitzpe Ramon. After a short lunch break under a small tree in the (dry) river, I did the climb up to Mitzpe Ramon. Although it was the biggest climb of the 3 days, it was not too hard. It was very windy, which kept me nice and cool, but I had to take my hat off for fear of it blowing away back into the Maktesh.

The clouds showed strange patterns.

Although I didn't see a lot of wildlife during these 3 days (apart from birds, some deer in the distance, and some foxes at the campsites), I did see some ibex just wandering around Mitzpe Ramon, as you do

Hopefully in Pesach I will manage to walk a few more days!

Day 10: From Gev Holit night camp to Gavanim night camp: 24th February 2018

I set off again early to try to get a few hours of walking done in the morning.

The day started with an early climb to the Ein Geled spring. There was quite a lot of water there, assumedly largely after the rain.

The day included some great views, and it was good walking weather (not too hot).

A few of the trees were already showing signs of flowers

I walked passed the "Karbolet harerim" (English translation: cockscomb). I read that term (cockscomb) in the guide book and couldn't for the life of me work out what a cockscomb was . . . finally I remembered from one of the children's books I read to my kids that a "karbolet" is the thing roosters have on their heads. And yes, it does look like that!

Quite a few nice acacia trees around

After walking down from the "karbolet", I started to see lots of people around. I soon reached the "Nekarot horseshoe". I understood that there is relatively easy car access nearby (and it was a Saturday), hence the (relatively) large number of people around.

After the horseshoe, there was a final climb of the day on Mt. Saharonim. There was a good view from the top of Maktesh Ramon and all the way to Mitzpe Ramon. There was also a good view of the Gavanim night camp where I was to spend the night.

I arrived at the night camp with plenty of time. I found the water cache, and setup my tent. Again there was no phone reception, but I walked back part of the way up Mt. Sharonim where they was reception. I went back down to the night camp - it was still early (5pm), and nobody else was there. I disciplined myself to wait until 6pm to eat dinner (Majadra from a packet), then got into my sleeping bag (it was cold!). I managed to stay awake until 9pm reading my book. In the end I wasn't alone at the campsite, around 8pm a couple also came to camp.