Mt. Catherine’s Hike – 1
I just got back from hiking up Mt. Catherine in Sinai with 4 of my friends. A common misconception, St. Catherine’s Monastery is atop Mt. Musa (aka Mt. Sinai) and not Mt. Catherine. Mt. Catherine is the highest peak in Egypt (at 2,629 m above sea level). I’ve been there before some few years back. I remember taking on that mountain in 7+ hours with rests almost every 45 minutes or so. Back then I reached the camping site, and couldn’t be bothered to go up those last few meters to the top of the mountain, (where the chapel is). Now that I’m in a better shape, I was really curious on how long I’d take on that mountain.
We took that mountain on in 3.5 hours, with virtually no rests, and this time I reached the peak! I was not pushing my limits, I just didn’t feel like stopping until I reached the top! The Bedouins living there could do it in 2 hours. So the extra 1.5 hours does not seem so bad for a city slicker like me. The hike was about 8km uphill, which according to the Bedouins is the equivalent of 17km on a horizontal plane! During the hike, I was too busy to think about being tired. Each bend had something more beautiful than the one before.
We reached the summit just in time to watch the sun set. What was different about this sunset, was that we were looking DOWN at it, not in an arrogant disgusted way, we were actually ABOVE the sunset! I don’t think I can conjure up any words that could describe what I saw or how I felt, so I’m just going to skip this part. The sun had set and it was time to camp.
We spent the night under a HUGE blanket of stars, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stars in my life. In a terrain like that what really impresses you is how quite it could get. In a nutshell, I sometimes had a hard time sleeping because my heart was pumping so loud! At a point I wished it would just stop for a minute for me to enjoy the perfect sound of pure silence. But I didn’t really do that, because it wouldn’t have made a difference since the person sleeping next to me (no names) was snoring! And not just any snoring! On inhale, it sounded like you are vacuuming marbles or grinding nut bolts, and on exhale it sounded like a tractor starting up. In a place where a passing fly sounds like an F16 breaking mach3, well, you could imagine what snoring right in your ear could sound like!
This simple 2-day hike just showed me how incredible and simple life could be. After the hike was over, nothing, and I mean nothing felt better than that shower! It was simply life changing! Not to over do the drama, and the over flow of emotions, I will end this blog right here and continue with more details tomorrow!