When I found out that we were going to hike up Mt. Sinai during our Holy Land tour, I was undeniably ecstatic. I knew this was something I would probably never be able to do again! Mt. Sinai was where Moses received the Ten Commandments. It was definitely a valuable historical and religious site that I wanted to go to.
We were briefed about the trip before the tour group flew out from Manila, and I have to admit, after all the advice and precautionary tips mentioned, climbing up this mountain started to feel very daunting–most especially because I’m not a regular hiker.
Here are some of the things they mentioned.
- It takes a total of nine hours to climb–this is the average for beginners or non-hikers.
- There are no decent toilets.
- There are a total of seven pit stops going up where people who feel like they can no longer hike can rest and wait until the group passes for them on the way down. (You can’t go down on your own, for safety reasons.)
- Each pit stop serves coffee, hot chocolate, and snacks, so the group can always take a break there as well before resuming the climb.
- There’s an option to ride a camel for about 3/4 of the journey, but the last leg consists of 750 steps up to the peak. Camels are no longer allowed up this last leg.
- If any of us lived a sedentary life, our tour organizers highly recommended that we start exercising and getting our bodies physically prepared.
I wasn’t completely inactive, so I prepared by mainly altering my workout making sure I included leg strengthening and stamina building. I did a lot of squats, lunges, weighted step-ups, and running. I also bought entry level hiking shoes for better grip and compression leggings to help with the cold weather.
On the day of the hike, we were picked up at twelve midnight from our hotel and brought to ground zero. Here we met our Beduin tour guide and rented jackets. We started our ascent at one in the morning, slow and steady.
It was a five-hour hike up to the summit. The reason we left so early was in order to catch the sunrise. And though I altered my workouts to condition my body for this hike, I tell you, it was really a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. It was below ten degrees–too cold for a tropical girl like me–the air was thin, and it was pitch black. We bought head lights which turned out to be really helpful in the darkness. We trudged along slowly, stopping every few minutes to catch our breaths.
We rested at the pit stops. I brought some snacks, sweets, and water which we carefully allocated to last until the top. This really helped keep our energy up for the whole ascent.
We reached the peak right before six–just in the nick of time! Crouched on a stone ledge, I waited in the freezing cold and soon enough, the sun started peeking from the distance. The skies bled bright red, orange, and yellow. And as light emanated from the horizon, Mt. Sinai started to come into view. From as far as the eye could see, rolling hills of rock and stone in hues of rust and auburn surrounded us. Mt. Sinai is a such beauty–grand and bewitching.
When the sun was high in the sky and we could no longer bear the cold, we started our descent, which took about four and a half hours. Now in broad daylight, we were able to backtrack what we had initially climbed earlier in the morning. Again, it was such a captivating sight–the sky had turned bright blue, painting a beautiful backdrop for the mountains.
But the daylight also revealed how challenging a hike it really was. Though a stone path had been made for hikers’ convenience, towering precipices lined the trail. A step out of place could lead to unthinkable consequences.
When we finally reached the monastery at the foot of the trail, we were definitely hungry, exhausted, but accomplished. If you have the chance to do this, please do. Even if it was very tiring, it was worth it.
Climbing up Ms. Sinai was feat in itself, but more importantly, it was another personally valuable experience that I will forever be grateful for. Not only was it my first ever major hike, it was also such an important place! AND it was my birthday! It was a beautiful finale to my 30th year and I wouldn’t have wanted to open by 31st year any other way. To more challenges, feats, and immeasurable experiences.