Monday, June 11, 2012

Jordan Challenge #35: Wet Hike Through Wadi Mujib

I just got back from a week in Lebanon with my good friends Mike and Cooper, tackling challenges galore there, but before I record them, there are a couple others I wanted to write about that happened before I left.  For this one, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my fabulous friend Grace, who chose this as her birthday activity, to Kelsey who did most of the logistics, and to Sarah M, and Nathan, who rounded out the crew of Mujib explorers.

One of the lesser-known features of Jordan (at least to foreigners) is Wadi Mujib, the country's "Grand Canyon". It is a giant gorge that enters the Dead Sea, and has the claim to fame of being the lowest nature reserve on earth. In the winter and early spring it is closed because of the danger of flash floods, but in the summer you can throw on a life preserver and try out the "wet hike" experience.  Most of the trails are long and very difficult, and hence require guides.  But the Siq Trail is self-guided and shorter, so that is the one we took.
Ready for anything ahead -- me, Grace, Kelsey and Nathan..

The thing to know about wet hiking is that it really lives up to its name.  We were forewarned to leave everything, including sun glasses, back in our car because we would get totally soaked, and there were places where the water would reach above our shoulders.  Happily, Kelsey had a waterproof camera, and she did bring that, lashed tightly around her wrist, and I have her to thank for all of the fun pictures in this post.  This is definitely a case where the story is in the pictures, so I'll let them tell it.
Watching Nathan tackle the first waterfall, I must confess I was feeling some trepidation.

Turns out that the climb was slippery, but kind of fun.

Sarah and I pressing forward.  Something I learned that day is that pounding water has a lot of force behind it!

Success!  Kelsey, Sarah, Nathan, Grace and I standing in front of the waterfall at the end of the Siq Trail -- all of us, as promised, completely soaked.

Coming back we slid down the waterfalls we climbed up before.  Here's a Grace-ful landing by the Birthday Girl.

In case anyone was wondering, Fulbrighters do float!  But beware -- they also get bruised and a bit beat up by the rocks lurking below.

When we were headed back home, Kelsey shared a secret with us, her favorite abandoned building in the city, discovered on one of her many runs throughout Amman. We just had to explore it, and once we were on the roof, realized it would be the perfect setting for a band doing photos for an album cover.  That was obviously too good of an opportunity to pass up, so here is what we would look like if we were a band in addition to of a bunch of Fulbrighters who just waded our way through an adventure-filled canyon.
Nathan, Sarah, me and Grace working on our sullen/thoughtful rooftop band pose, but not quite there.

Like any good band, we need a little drama.  Here Grace gets kicked out and Kelsey shows us some attitude.
I had just about accepted the fact that a wet hike just wasn't in the cards for this year of Jordan Challenges when Grace and Kelsey made it so.  Sadly, things are winding down for both of them (and me) as our school years are over, and technically our work is just about done.  But I'm glad we're making the most of our last few weeks together, and Wadi Mujib was surely a "mostest" in lots of ways.

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