After: ALYN Heels of Love Hike, part 1

Our experiences on the ALYN Heels of Love Hike 2020.  I went with my daughter Shira who is a bat sherut at ALYN this year.

2 am to Jerusalem
So the big day is here! Shira and I are up and ready for a taxi to meet the group bus from Jerusalem.

4 am to the Eilat Mountains
A 4-hour ride, with one stop on the way, to the starting point of our hike.  Forecast is for some rain around midday, so the guides have modified the hiking routes of the groups accordingly.

8 am Breakfast at the side of the road
The logistics company is waiting with a fresh breakfast - scrambled eggs, coffee, tea, bread and rolls, fruit, cut vegetables, various spreads.  From the same spread we make sandwiches and take some snacks for the day.

Everyone takes a couple of bottles of water, some fill them into their hydration packs, organizes their day packs and leaves their duffels with the logistics team to meet us at the campsite tonight.

We are on our way!

Hiking and looking out for rain
Our group is 15 people, including our guide Elad at the front and paramedic at the back.

About mid-morning we see the 3-day group, hiking typically more "strenuous" routes.  Because of forecast of rain up until about 1 pm, both groups are steering clear of ravines, our paths cross a couple of times.  The pace is relatively slow, I'm guessing for both groups, as we wander around but don't strike out on any long trail.

Hiking in the rain and wind
Rain finally arrives.  It's more of a consistent sprinkle.  The wind picks up.

Switching groups
Our guide says for the rest of the day we're going to walk a little bit this way and then retrace our steps to get back to the campsite.  One of our group switches to the 3-day group.  Shira and I decide to do the same.

We go with them along a route toward Har Shlomo.  The wind picks up significantly.  We walk up one incline and then down another, then up another incline and then down a steep and rocky one, in the face of a lot of wind.  I don't find much to hold onto.

In front of me, someone is stepping down the incline using hiking poles.  Her hat flies off; I catch it and continue carrying it down the incline.

Someone else's hat blows off.  He looks like he wants to walk off the trail to get it.  Remembering an incident from years ago, I call out not to - what if the hat keeps blowing out of reach and he tries to follow it?  In a flash, one of the ALYN staff runs along the trail and out of sight over the side of the incline and gets the hat.  Wow!  Later I find out he trained on these very hills in Sayeret Matkal.  No wonder.

Switching back
The guide tells us they were originally going to make a more gradual ascent up Har Shlomo (except the end which has only one trail) but because of the pending rain they waited until now and will take a more steep route, it is steep up and down and will take about two hours and people should decide if they would rather be part of the other group for the rest of the day.

About 8 people from the 3-day group switch.  I switch.  Shira stays.

We walk up the next hill, and learn about the memorial for two soldiers who fell here, before heatstroke was really understood.

The sun comes out, we take photos.

More rain and wind - and hail
We walk back toward the campsite - walking the other way on a trail is a totally different view because you are facing the other direction.

The other group is on the top - some of our group make celebratory hoots, some of them do too.
Can you see the tiny people on the tallest peak?

We keep walking.  The wind returns.  Stronger.  And a more significant rain.  Even a small amount of hail.  I think of Shira coming down the mountain in this, and I'm glad I didn't try it this time!


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