Our longest day yet, and we only hiked from 7:30 to 4:45!
What a day. I'm exhausted though. This morning we woke up to... a drizzle on the tent. It didn't last long, but it was enough to make getting up hard. The plan was to hike 18km and have a relaxing day, since the morning was all dirt roads. Some ups and downs, but mostly gradual with the occasional 5 or 10 minute butt kicker climb. We walked and took a snack break at 10, and we had already done 11km. We had service and so we checked the forecast. More drizzles this afternoon but tomorrow looked worse.
The sun came out and we continued on past an 18km long conveyer belt that brings potassium from the Dead Sea to an industrial zone. Also it smelled all morning, so I'm not sure if we were smelling potassium or what. Anyways, after the conveyer belt, we walked to lunch. We had hiked 18km by noon. We ate, and as we sat there a gross cloud rolled in and the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. More rain, only a drizzle but enough to have us packed up and moving again quickly.
The plan was to do another 13km, aka half of tomorrow, in hopes of avoiding a large descent on questionable terrain in the rain. We did enough of that up north. We found our water which had been cached by a random guy in a bush, and then pressed on. The trail takes you down, then up up up to the edge of the small crater, which is huge.
Russ was in front and setting pace. He was flying. He really trucks when he wants to. I took it easy on the downhill as I get nervous about rolling an ankle, especially when the trail is loose and rocky. The trail was beautiful, and we both put in tunes at the bottom before climbing up for an hour, at first it was steep then it calmed down a bit. As we walked I was thinking about just how small I feel sometimes. How walking through canyon after canyon and watching the clouds move at what feels like hyperspeed above your head makes you feel tiny. Like an ant sometimes. My brain wandered on that for a while. At the edge of the crater we took a short break to gawk. So beautiful. It's something you can't capture in a photo so we just looked at it. Then, down. The guidebook for this trail is kind of the worst, not sure how many times I've mentioned that but it really is. We took a wrong turn and took a very steep and slightly sketchy way down into the canyon. It took a while and did a number on my feet and knees. About half way down we realized it was most definitely not the trail but we looked at the map and it connected so we went the rest of the day. Once we were down we wandered through the maze of the crater floor and crossed a few wadis. The sun was finally out and the colors were spectacular. Oranges and purples, some of the layers of rock are so beautiful. We got to where we wanted to camp and chatted about some options. We ditched our packs and walked out of the canyon via a weird collapse in the wall called "satan's mouth" where the rock layers turn vertical. We walked for ten minutes out then back because the book suggests it and it was worth it. Also, it's nice to hike without a pack. Wow.
Now we're cozy in camp, we had lentils for dinner and I'm realizing they are my least favorite. The stars here are surreal at night also. Just one more way to feel small.
Also, I know I complain a bit but today felt like magic. On the PCT everything seemed so magical, and this trail hasn't had that sparkle until today. Oh, and it's so cold in the desert. Today I hiked in my puffy jacket and pants. I'm ready for it to warm up so I can trade in a wind burnt face for some tan!
Also, fun fact. We camped under where the Israeli Defense Force is practicing with its jets and they are loudddd. So much for nature.