So it is not even noon and Steve and I have put in a full day already! Our alarm rang at 4:30 am – quite early considering all those noisy American and Israeli teens never quit making noise till probably close to 1am. We dressed, packed lots of water and the camera and headed off in the dark to climb Mount Masada in time to see the sun rise at the top. There were other groups streaming towards the entrance as well and people already on their way up. The guard at the bottom kept signaling to a guide part way up so we could see where the lead group was occasionally. It quickly got light making our flashlights unnecessary. I tried to take pictures every few minutes of the horizon to monitor the progress of the dawn.
The climb was quite arduous and even at 5 am and before the sun was above the horizon, it was quite hot. I cannot imagine trying to climb it even a couple of hours later in the day let alone at mid-day. The views on the way up were amazing and gave a good excuse to stop and rest. Steve decided that this was his “workout of the day” and that gave him good focus to get up the mountain quickly.
We got to the top about 5 minutes before the sun came over the horizon. It was amazing how quickly it came up over the mountains in Jordan. After enjoying that event, we headed off to see the ruins. We were both amazed at how much there was to see. It is a huge complex up on top of the mountain and we kept coming around a corner or over a rise to find more ruins spread out before us. We did not even get to see them all as there was just too much to take in. It was all very impressive and the thought of building all that at the top of that mountain was pretty mind boggling. There were lots of groups of young people – Israeli and otherwise – and it was fun watching what they were doing. The Israeli groups were the best as they were really getting an education and having fun. They were doing Masada Jeopardy at one spot and acting out the history in another. In other places there were just typical teenage meltdowns as young relationships were coming apart in the heat.
Another group that was interesting to watch was a group of yeshiva bochers (students) who came up and then took over the shaded area by the water. They decided that this would make a good place to have their morning service. I hope that they didn’t mind too much that I still went and filled my water bottle. I figured it was a public spot not the shul. They call came up schlepping tallis and tefillin for morning prayers and dressed in typical black pants and long black coat. I can’t imagine hiking dressed like that but they seemed to do fine.
After our tour of the ruins we hiked back down – much easier though harder on the knees. It was also hotter and sunnier on the way down. We were surrounded by Birthright Israel kids who kvetched their way down the mountain. It was amazing how out of shape and whiny these young Americans on a free trip to Israel could be!! The staff person said it was pretty much non-stop. Steve told them that they were ungrateful and should stop their bitching. I told them I was twice their age and to quit whining. They were not making a good impression on their Israeli guides of how Americans act.
After a less than exciting breakfast at the Youth Hostel we headed back to Ein Bokek to float in the Dead Sea and visit Aroma. The sea was great other than when I got water in my eye. That really hurt and required getting out and rinsing off. It is very cool being able to float but it is also a real balancing act as the water tries to flip you over and it is hard to remain upright and keep your head out of the water. Took some fabulous pictures of the salt formations on the rocks.
Our coffee is gone and it is time to move on to Ein Gedi where we hope to find some mud to play in and do some more floating. Have a great day.