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Day 38

15km

Last day!

We woke up on the hill top and packed up. The terrain was slow and the "spring" the book had claimed runs year round was dry. Then, we arrived at a narrow vertical climb up a crack in some rocks that we had to wait for a large group to get down before we could go up. Also, doing this without another person to hand packs up to would definitely be tricky. We headed up on dirt roads then crossed a road. I wasn't in a great mood for a bunch of reasons, but after some chatting I was feeling better and ready to embrace the last day.

After crossing the road we got some good looks at Egypt and the border fence, then dropped into a canyon gradually. The descent took forever and kept going down and down. It was hot, and we were navigating a lot of rocks, so it was just slower than usual. We stopped for a snack then about an hour later came upon a massive pool of water. We were both shocked! We filtered some then pressed on but what a nice treat since we were both low on water! Ahhh, then a bit more down, one steep climb, one more mellow climb, a stop for lunch then down, one final climb and one last drop right to the ocean! Ahhhhh! I had music in most of the day, and just soaked up the sun and the views. We wrote in a trail log as we finished the last bit of trail and walked to a gas station for ice cream and water.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at a crowded beach just laying in the sun. We're camped on the beach tonight and are spending the day at another beach tomorrow before heading to the hostel for showers and laundry.

Welp. That's all the blogging for now. I'll try to post a post INT summary and then there will definitely be some photo posts once I'm back in the states! Another 500 miles down!

 

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Day 37

22km

 

Tomorrow will be our last day. Where does the time go?

 

This morning wasn't anything super special, other than having oranges with breakfast which was a super nice treat. The first 7km were moderate uphill then we got into some climbing sections. We stopped in a breezy area for some chips then climbed a decent ascent. The view from the top was amazing and the whole way down was beautiful. We moved slowly and saw tons of people but I had music playing and was soaking in every second of the beauty. The colors got me today, such beautiful colored rocks! Man, I probably sound like I'm losing it. Anyways, we stopped for lunch in a canyon with purple granite walls and hugged the walls for shade and stopped by a waterfall. Pretty spectacular, and it actually made a trickle sound! The water flowed down the rock then went straight into the ground! So cool! Also, we got to watch a lot of people climb up and down it which was entertaining. A girl named Ella came along with a few other young kids chatted with us for a while with pretty good English before their parents caught up and all climbed down. Ella was really outgoing and smart; kids amaze me sometimes. We siesta'd for 3 full hours like lazy bums then did some more serious climbs and descents in the afternoon. The trail didn't match up with the description super well, but whatever. At 5 we took another snack break and decided to stop earlier than the book’s plan. We finished the day with another steep climb, and good music really helped me cruise to the top. My feet are sore and my ankles are tired but we're cowboy camped at the top of a hill. It's breezy but you can see Jordan and possibly Egypt as well. Pretty amazing. Can't wait to be at the beach tomorrow!

 

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Day 36

20km

Did you know that after months of sleeping in a sleeping bag, you can still sleep in it the wrong way? Educational moment brought to you by Russ.

We woke up and turns out that when you pitch camp in the dark, sometimes you end up closer to the road then you hoped. We got moving pretty fast, but somehow Russ slept with his sleeping bag sideways. Crazy. Also it's so much warmer at night now than it was at the start of the trail which is nice. We started walking towards the visitor center and got a ride pretty quickly from a guy in a truck. From there we found the trail and got officially started for the day. We climbed up a canyon/wadi thing which, because we were near the visitor center, had little signs with geographic info on them. We'd hike, then read, then hike, then read, with the exception of a few signs that were rusted over. The trail worked gradually up but had a few vertical sections and got very steep towards the top of Mt. Timna. We took a short break at the top and sat with our feet over the cliff’s edge (it's the kind of mountain that has a good sized plateau at the top).

Down was as steep as the up, but once we were down we walked to a building. There was an artificial pond with a gift shop, restaurant, camping, and drinking water. We bought some fruit bars and lounged at the tropical-vibed desert oasis. After more snacks we pressed on, dirt road walking with headphones in. As we walked, I heard a whistle and out of nowhere we saw Moshe! He had been resting under the shade of a tree and we walked over to him. We chatted for a bit and found out his wife drops him off and picks him up every day which sounds super nice! After slightly more small talk, we pressed on and left the INT, headed towards Be'er Ora and the highway. After a while we arrived at a bus stop with no numbers on it and no hopes of a bus coming, so we hitched. We got a ride pretty quickly from a young woman with a baby in the front seat. Her car was clean and smelled good, and things flew by so fast at highway speed. She dropped us at the edge of town where a Superdeal grocery store is. We left our packs with security and entered. I felt like I was in a haze. I was exhausted and overwhelmed by the crowded store. Russ and I had a hard time getting things going but after a while we had everything we needed and checked out. We sat in the parking lot and ate Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby in the shade with some strawberries - aka magic. We lounged and after a while started losing our shade. We packed up and filled water then headed back down the street to hitch/bus back to the trail. As we stood there, struggling to communicate with people in their cars who had weird sign-language-like hand gestures for us, an American guy walked by. He was headed to Timna Park and so he walked past us to not step on our hitch turf - very respectful. After a while, we also walked north quite a bit to a real bus stop and just as we arrived the other American had gotten a ride and offered to share with us. We hustled and hopped in the old man’s car, then made some small talk with the old man, and the American who was from Westchester. The older man required seat belts for all which I respect, then more speeding in cars at seemingly light speed. Then back to business. The walk to camp was boring and I was exhausted despite taking a few hours off today. My feet are so sore most of the time, and we also have 2 days of water again. Dinner was yummy and followed by Infinite Jest. Now probably sleep soon since I'm tired beyond words. 

 

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Day 35

27km

 

It's almost 9pm as I write this - aka super late and way past my bedtime these days. I'm exhausted, so we'll see how this goes.

I woke up to pee in the middle of the night as usual and it was probably 2 something? As I stood there in the silence and darkness I noticed there were no stars anymore and thought to myself 'hmmm, must be cloudy' then went back to sleep. I woke up again at 4 to some light rain, and by 430, Russ was out putting the vestibule up because it was pouring, thundering, and the lightning was so bright it felt like a strobe beaming into the tent. We watched for a while as the cracks came out of the sky, then eventually went back to sleep. The wind, rain, and booming was still going at 6 when we usually get up so we read until things calmed down a bit. We were on trail by 9 and the lighting was flat and hazy all day.

We walked up and down all day, nothing super noteworthy. Moshe, an Israeli man who we met early on in the day was either 200 yards in front of or behind us all day. He grew on me throughout the course of the day with a wave here and there, and introducing us to north bounders as the fast Americans. Today was another mostly music day, but the scenery felt like mars. Russ and I finished off the day at Timna Park and hitched to what the book said would be a grocery store.

Wrong. We got to town, and found out that we were basically at Tillamook (for those who don't know, Tillamook is dairy that has a tour, gift shop, restaurant, ice cream bar, and what not... kind of a park type thing?). The place had some food, but it wasn't a grocery store and definitely wasn't worthy of a resupply. We charged and snacked and made a new plan - get food tomorrow afternoon since tomorrow is a small mileage day. Ugh I know I'm shorting this one but I'm so tired! We took a bus back to Timna and are now camped 100 yards or so off the highway - far from scenic but oh well. Also we are so so close to the end - 3 more days.

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Day 34

25km

 

I woke up early to switch out things on the one outlet. Also, I slept like garbage last night, because of my hips again. Only a few more days to go. Once we were packed and had eaten our daily oatmeal, we headed out. We took some photos before leaving since the place was so strange. It took us a minute to find the trail, but once we did it was easy walking all day. We passed some IDF folks shooting things for training, then stopped under an underpass for a snack in the shade. The underpass reminded me of a PCT moment again and I daydreamed about how much I miss that trail.

After that we pressed on, lost the trail, then found it and back tracked a bit to see some sand dunes. The dunes were followed by more road walking, and after an hour or so I realized I was missing my bandana. My PCT bandana. I tried to hold tears back but I couldn't. I cried, threw my pack to the ground, proceeded to kick it then sat down in the dirt. That bandana was so sentimental, and it had somewhere over the past 15km fallen from my pack. I felt like an idiot for losing it, and so there I was crying in the dirt over a tiny piece of fabric. Russ walked back to the dunes but didn't see it and I didn't want to waste all day backtracking so on we went.

Once again Russ saves the day. I often think I'm not worthy of him, or that I'm too mean for his Midwestern deep down goodness. As we pressed on I thought about karma and what I possibly did to deserve this? Or why the universe was trying to teach me something, or why the trail just felt like it sucked in general today. Blah. Headphones went it promptly. We continued on the road then up a hill that was all sharp rocks. My feet ached and I kicked the ground some more. The trail felt like it was bullying me and I was so exhausted from it. We reached the top of the hill and right as I was mid curse in my head, we saw there was a guy walking towards us. As we got closer we said hey and you could immediately tell he was from the States. We chatted water and such with him and he said he had done the CDT recently - and he had on a fresh pair of Altras. What's that phrase? "The trail provides"? Yeah. Just as I stomped the ground, the trail sent me an amazing thru hiker, wearing a hikertrash hat and all, who said he would look out for my bandana.

Thanks trail.

After that things were better. We stopped for lunch, which also greatly improved my mood. While listening to TED radio hour we stopped at a strange Camel Camp to fill our water.

We camped close to the edge of a cliff, and watched Bottle Rocket on my phone with an amazing view and even more amazing stars at night. And it's so warm out! I'm exhausted but we have 4 more days of hiking left, which is so so strange!

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Day 33

4km maybe?

Zero! Well, nearo?

 

Idk. It's really hard for me to write tonight because I just got rejected from a dream job of mine. Aka still on the hunt, aka super bummed and honestly starting to debate what I'm even qualified to do after almost a year of being a bum hiker. Maybe I'm not qualified to do anything and should just keep on plodding my way around the globe selfishly and slowly grinding my body down to dust. Did I mention I'm in a bad mood? Sorry.

Today was strange because we decided to take a day off. Every single northbounder had told us that today's section sucked. It was flat, and uninteresting and there is no need to hike it. For those reasons, and the fact that we haven't had a day off since we started, we went for it. We slept in, read, played cards and once it got too hot to be in the tent, packed up and stuck out our best hitching thumbs. We got a ride a few km's to a junction, which was easy enough. Then, because it's Israel and the whole country is the size of New Jersey, a bus came. We skipped the first one in hopes of a ride but the road was fast and another bus came by so we hopped on. The whole thing was packed with military kids. I literally stood in the bus stairwell the whole ride. Russ also had to basically unpack his whole pack to get to his wallet. Who puts their wallet at the bottom on a travel day? I do not understand his logic sometimes. After one stop at a military base and offloading a small number of kids, we got dropped off at the following stop. We got off and decided since it was almost lunch to pop into a cafe. We proceeded to have one of the best meals we've had this trip, and I don't know if it's because we were hungry or what.

Anyways we stuffed our hearts content and lavished in the cool amazingness of this adorable cafe that seemed like it could have belonged in Stehekin, Washington. Then we wandered our way to the Neot Smadar Kibbutz. We had been told by a few people we needed to come here as part of the trail otherwise you haven't really done it - like a rite of passage. We strolled through the run down houses and when we arrived at the massive art center (which is extremely phallic looking), we called the trail angel’s number. A young guy came and showed us the cafeteria, then our home for the night (a cement area with some mattresses and a thatched kind of roof). We spent the afternoon showering, rinsing socks out and eventually going for a stroll of the massive place. I also pulled a decent sized splinter out of my heel. Blah. We did some more Internet catch-up (this is when I got the bad news), then went to dinner around 7.

Dinner was interesting. No one talks, and you sit at the next available seat, and it's kind of nice, but also kind of sad. Food can be such a great way to bring people together yet here was a room full of people just eating in silence like it was another task to cross off the list. It was strange, and meditative, yet so so utilitarian and bland. The food was healthy, lots of vegetables and sadly, for hikers, not super filling. Since Russ and I were the last two at our table we bussed it and walked home to our weird room in the dark, and got lost a few times in the process. Kibbutzim are so strange to me, my brain genuinely struggles to understand them. Also I've been pretty down all evening. Hopefully hiking makes it all better tomorrow. 5 days left.

 

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Day 32

30 km

My shoes falling apart is taking its toll on my body. As I lay here my feet ache so badly and the hip pain is so uncomfortable I can barely find a way to lay that relieves the pain. Also the rash is still on my legs, and blisters on my feet.

We got moving pretty early this morning and began our walk with puffys on. The elevation today was strange. 10km of flat on dirt road mostly, then one big climb, then like 7km on rolling hills on dirt roads, then big decent then then 10 km of more dirt roads. The climb and decent were canyons. Complete with ladders, rungs, and ropes, straight up and straight down.

The morning was cool and we listened to classical music out loud as the sun rose on our backs. Time flew by and throughout the day we tried to call a kibbutz to rent bikes for tomorrow. The first ten km flew by and before we knew it we were headed up. Photos are the only real way to show how cool it was, but inside these canyons it's breathtaking and shaded which is a huge plus.

Upon scrambling out of the top, we walked on the rolling hills and chatted for a while about bikes and what not. As we began the decent we noticed the Swiss trio up ahead as well as another couple headed down for the canyon. At the first ladder there was a slight traffic jam, so Russ and I stopped for a snack. We were both hungry and I needed something before lots of downhill.

After grape leaves and letting the crowd spread out a bit, we went down some more massive ladders (again photos will be better to explain) then took our siesta in the shade at the bottom of the canyon. I was chilled and bundled in puffy jackets as we read and stuffed our faces, backs leaned on the chalky rock. Siestas always go by too fast, and we packed up after an hour and a half of lounging. It was now close to 3, and we were both stiff, but we cruised seeing as dirt roads are easy. I put in headphones and danced along in solitude with Russ behind me. Time dragged a bit, but my back chafe was better today and the music was helping me block out pain.

As we walked into the sun we got word that bikes would not be available tomorrow, which is a pretty huge bummer. The trail tomorrow is 28km of road walking - which numerous people going north have told us sucks and isn't worth doing. After arriving at camp, and snacking on some brownies we decided that we don't need to punish ourselves. We're taking out first day off tomorrow and are going to sleep in and hitch to a kibbutz recommended to us by many. I'm super excited to give my feet a day off before heading into the final few days. They've been pretty swollen with the heat and my shoes are so thin and rocky (rocks on the inside since they have holes that are almost 2").

Also I'm always so tired at like 8pm. Helpppp.

PS - I took most of my photos on my camera today so the good pictures will come later, sorry!

 

 

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Day 31

28 km

 

Cowboy camped as I type this.

 

Both of us woke up tired from staying up listening to Eric's show. I also went to bed hungry twice last night, which led to an unsatisfying breakfast. We packed up and got moving but things were slow. After starting kind of late, and having to make up some kms from yesterday, we walked on the dirt road but it still dragged. As we walked, the techno was still in the distance and a pup came darting between us. We both looked around for another person but didn't see anyone. The dog zoomed around, darting from place to place then ran out of sight. We walked on. Then more pup. We didn't name it this time and we got passed by a guy jogging and were relieved thinking the dog was his. We sat down for a break and some snacks and guess who joined? This pup! She was more shy than Ernie but was defiantly moving kind of with us. After a km or two we stopped and again to look at the book and the dog laid down in the shade behind a sign panting very heavily. It was also already pretty hot at 9am. The dog had a collar on with phone numbers on it, so we gave her some water and made some calls. After a WhatsApp pin drop the guy said he would be there in 10 minutes. We waited and the dog ran off again. Chasing birds and bunnies, having the time of its life. We waited and when a man arrived in a truck with his two young kids he told us she's run away before, and last time she made it all the way to Mitzpe Ramon (which was a few days back hiking). Once that whole craziness was done, we continued on. The sun blazed and the trail was on a dirt road all day. Gradually grinding up, and boring. We talked for a while, then listened to music, and Russ even attempted to walk with his eyes closed and made it a hundred steps. At one point we walked up a pretty steep hill and the sand/dust is what I imagine the moon being like. It was so light and fluffy and grey! Pretty cool until I realized how much dirt was in my shoes now. Eventually, close to noon, we tucked under a thorny tiny little shrubby tree and napped /lunched/siesta’d for 2 hours.

Siestas are amazing. Once we got moving again though my body felt re-energized for a while and time flew. I had music on again to distract from my own head and the pain my feet have been in. My shoes died a while ago - aka they have no cushion or padding or support anymore. So I've developed these weird rubs on the bottoms of my feet. Not fully blisters but just rubs. It's almost like my body remembers the last time it blistered and doesn't want to go there. Also, back chafe came back today, my shirt has a massive armpit hole and I still have a rash all over my legs - just for an update.

Oh and we ran into our Swiss "friends" again today! We never see them at night... so it's kind of strange. Also, this afternoon, once we got to the designated campsites we walked an extra bit to a road to hitch and get some water. The last bit of walking I was really jamming out to classical music which I think Russ likes to watch because I look like a total spaz. We got a ride relatively quick from an older man and his son who had been out hiking. They drove us to a nearby gas station where we filled up water and ate hot dogs and ice cream. Hitching back was a little bit tricky as it was getting dusky, but we got a ride from a surfer bro type who invited us to come with him to some place that is a mediation retreat type place?

Anyways, we didn't cook tonight yet because we're both still full from the gas station treats. Also the stars are so gooood tonight!

 

PS- Shoutout to Russ who I know reads this for annoying the crap out of me while I try to write this by singing and attempting to contribute.

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Day 30

25km

 

 

 

Dry tent morning. Always the sign of a promising day. We kicked things off with a massive climb first thing, but once we were literally over that hill, the rest of the day was pretty mellow. One other climb looked bad but wasn't. Things in the desert always look scarier than then are. Most of the time. The climbs look so intimidating.

Anyways the morning was pretty simple and we only took one snack break. The geography is crazy and it's strange to imagine water flowing through some of these valleys, even though it feels so much like a river bed, it's just so dry.

Today, we kind of rushed all morning to get to town. Once again it's Friday, aka the beginning of the Sabbath. The grocery store closed at 1:00 and we arrived in the small town of Sapir around 11:30. We shopped and snacked on some popsicles. The shopping was pretty bleak but luckily Israeli couscous is amazing with a soup mix for flavor, so that's been our go-to. Also they didn't take cards so luckily I had enough cash, but it was close. We lounged on some grass in the town’s park after getting all of our errands done and read. It was so nice, and we struggled to get moving again.

When we did, it was close to three, and the rest of the walking was pretty painfully boring and on a dirt road. Music was a must, also Russ and I almost got separated when he stopped to use the bathroom - fortunately there is service where we are again. I spent a while having a Skype interview and we had super yummy ravioli with pesto, mushrooms and tomatoes for dinner. We also built a kite that I'm super excited to test tomorrow. I passed out early but we woke up around midnight to listen to our friend Eric's radio show. They proceeded to chat about Girl Scout cookies, which didn't help the fact that I was already hungry. Now I can hear weird electronic music bass lines in the distance and I’m hungry.

Also it's so warm out!

 

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Day 29

22km

 

After a pretty blah day yesterday, I woke up feeling better today. Mornings are pretty routine with the oats now and the trail started with a steep accent, some ridge walking then a few kilometers through mostly flat wadis. We took a break under a tree for the shade and polished off most of a giant ho-ho type thing that was pretty much just sugar.

After a break more climbing on another karbolet - this one was much easier. It still climbed a decent amount and offered some amazing 360 views from the top, but was less tough. We walked with music in our ears almost all day, and after the descent and passing some other northbound hikers, we stopped for lunch under another tree. Cheers to all these desert trees, they are so so welcome. We ate, read and dried out the dewy tent. After lunch there was one more short climb followed by two steep downhill sections. Not the most exciting day, and because of the music I honestly didn't ponder much. Sorry it's kind of boring, but the views and the simplicity of the whole thing are what it's for anyways!

Also I have a rash on my legs and it's spreading so we’ll see what happens with that.

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