I have always thought that I was fit and could conquer anything, don’t get me wrong, I still do but Mount Sinai or Mount Moses as its called in Egypt was a real tough one. Although I got to the end of the trail faster than my Russian counterparts who were on the tour with me. It is by far the most demanding physical activity I have ever been engaged in.
Growing up in a christian family, there’s just no way you wouldn’t have heard of Moses, since I was in Egypt I decided to see it all, the burning bush, the mount where the 10 commandments was received and the wilderness where the Israelite journeyed for so long.
I was picked up from by hotel by the tour company at about 9:00pm. The drive from Sharm-El-Sheik to St Catherine where Mount Sinai is located was about 3 hours and was really annoying. First I was the only English speaking person on the trip and the tour guide could not be bothered with me and kept ranting in Russian . I also had swimmers ear as a result of snorkeling earlier hence I was quite cranky and their chit chat wasn’t helping.
We made a stop on our way to get snacks at an overpriced store in the middle of no where as the items I bought cost way more than they did in Sharm. Hence, if you are ever in Egypt, never buy stuff on referral by tour guides as I found out later that the guide and driver get a cut of the amount spent by tourists.
We got to the foot of Mount Sinai at about midnight and it was really cold. Thanks to George for the heads up and extra clothing if not I’m sure I would have had to spend a bit on extra clothing as there were traders who tried to sell us everything especially Ponchos.
I got a personal guide at the mount since I was the only English speaking person in my group. Few steps into the hike and I could already tell it was going to be tough. The cold was intense and the loose pebbles and camel dung weren’t helping however, my guide was helpful. I never thought I would be one to call for a break whilst hiking but I did especially when I was out of breath. I was careful not to stop for so long as the resolve to continue after sitting for too long was hard. The stars illuminated our path hence there was no need for a torch.
There were different stops along the way where you could take a rest from the cold, get some coffee, light snacks and noodles. I opted for noodles and that had got to be the worst noodles I have ever had, the noodles was basically soaked in hot water and spice. It wasn’t left to cook but in the condition that I was, I was just glad to have something warm.
After about three hours we got to the last stop, by then I was really tired and exhausted and although the top was 5 minutes away, I had had enough and preferred to take a nap on mattress and blankets of questionable cleanliness. It was really no time to be picky.
I woke up few minutes to sunrise and sprinted up to the summit. It was an awesome sunrise and remains one of the prettiest I have seen, a group started singing hymns as the sun rose like the moment had some sort of spiritual significance. We all watched as the sky turned from black to shades of grey, then steaks of amber and then finally gave way to the sun. I had issues with my camera focus hence the not so great pictures.
My guide showed where Moses was given the 10 Commandments and where he rested while he fasted for 40days .
I later had to get me cup of warm water to keep my fingers from going numb as the cold was beginning to get unbearable.
The hike down the mount felt shorter and faster but was just as steep. How Moses was able to survive under this harsh condition in his old age was beyond me but this kept me going.
For those who are not fit to do the entire hike, there are Bedouins who are never tired of offering camels for hire to help out with the trail before the 750 steps.
Back at the base of the mountain, we were shown the burning bush where Moses encountered God and the well at which he met his wife.
We also had a tour of St Catherine Monastery which is one of the oldest monasteries in the world and also a UNESCO world heritage site. My experience hiking Mount Sinai taught me certain lessons which I might be sharing subsequently and I saw it as a stepping stone for my next hike – Kilimanjaro 😀 .