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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Egypt, Mount Sinai

 

Map picture

After an almost 3 hour ride and pass several checkpoints we arrived at the base of Mt. Sinai.

I put on 2/3 of the clothes in my backpack (3 pants/shirts, gloves and hat) and fill my pockets with snacks.

1:49AM.  After a short bathroom break where LE$2 gets you 2 pieces of toilet paper, we begin our climb.

 

DSC00604 Camel rides are offered (LE$85) as we begin our over 3 mile hike.

 

 

 

 

I am told by an Egyptian on our tour that walking up to about 6000 feet is far more rewarding. I sure hope so.


DSC00612 Shortly after we begin our climb, a Crescent Moon begins rising in the distance.

"The Thumb of God"

 

 

This makes for an unbelievable surreal night sky over Mt. Sinai.

The initial part of the hike is easy to moderate. As we gain altitude, the temperature changes with the wind from cool to cold.

Guided camels move up and down the trail and if you are not careful you might end up with a camel kiss or worse. A pilgrimage of lights stretches from the bottom to the top of Mt. Sinai as we continue our ascent.

 

DSC00607 Our guide gives us frequent "Egyptian 5 Minute" breaks at cafe's along the way.

 

 

 

The last part of the hike has a 750 step climb to the top.

4:25AM. We are at our final rest stop where blankets (LE$20) and mats (LE$10) are offered for the summit.  50 steps to go.

 

DSC00619 Blanket provides good wind protection at the summit as I await sunrise.

 

 

DSC00623Dawn fills the sky with vivid colors and soon the sunrise is greeted with singing and applause.

 

 

 

 

EJI 289

Mt Sinai Sunrise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6:00AM. I begin my descent and I am rewarded with stunning views not available during the darkness of my climb.

 

EJI 298 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC00631 Mt Sinai Climbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EJI 297

The Stairs To Monastery provide one of two ways to descend Mt. Sinai. 

Built by monks, this is also known as "The 3000 Steps Of Repentance".

 

 

Descending this path will no doubt  cover a multitude of my sins and eventually lead me to St. Katherine Monastery.

 

St Catherine MonasterySt. Katherine Monastery

 

One of the oldest active Christian churches in the world and home of the famous biblical,"Burning Bush".

7:45AM. I am at St. Katherine where access to “The Burning Bush” is restricted.

This is disappointing to many in our group and makes St. Katherine hardly worth the visit other than for refreshments.

 

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