It was late morning and I was perched on a stone on a mountain in southern Jordan, crunching out on the town and taking in the immense scene of the Great Rift Valley spread out before me. This exhibition was my reward for two hours spent scaling a lofty Bedouin track, a climb punctuated by visit stops to regain some composure and breathe in the aroma of boot-trodden thyme. I’d been up since before day break, when the stars were as yet carved in the sky, and had quite recently finished the main real move of my four-day climbing stumble on the new Jordan Trail.
This was the inaugural “through climb” of the trail, and the acknowledgment of a 20-year dream for veteran British climbers Tony Howard and Di Taylor who went with our gathering and whose brainchild this was. Aggregating a manual for trekking in Jordan in the Nineties, they understood they could connect a portion of the ways to make a long-remove trek spreading over the whole length of the nation. In 2015 the Jordan Trail Association was framed, and the way was authoritatively opened recently. This venture is a major ordeal for the Jordanians, and we were graced by the exciting nearness of HM Queen Rania, who went along with us for a couple of hundred yards of the climb.
My goal on this trek was Petra, somewhere in the range of 38 miles (60km) of extreme, bumpy strolling southwards. I’d been rehearsing at home in the Yorkshire Dales, yet pottering around England’s green and charming scene was inadequate readiness for this climb, one of eight phases of the trail. A considerable lot of my kindred walkers setting out that morning were substantially fitter, having strolled the distance from Um Qais 249 miles (400km) toward the north. Many intended to proceed with a further 155 miles (250 km) to the Red Sea at Aqaba, and by then would have trekked approximately a month and a half altogether.
We had set off in the morning crosswise over shake strewn steppe, studded with acacia trees and spiky bushes, towards the apparently invulnerable hindrance of the Shara Mountains, the sun throwing features over their serrated pinnacles. As it turned out, these mountains are vulnerable all things considered and after a short rest (there’s no shade up here) we started our plunge. You have to watch your progression on this rough landscape, yet looking down had its points of interest as we saw that the ground underneath our feet was blossoming after late rains, spiky bushes growing profound violet blooms.
We plummeted – steeply – to an aqueduct bordered with pink oleander, where the sound of falling water in this dried up scene resembled enchantment. Here, we ceased to rest, eat our boxed snacks and bathe our steaming feet in the stream while our Bedouin guides fermented up hot, sweet tea – shockingly, the most invigorating of beverages in the Arabian warmth. It was a genuinely global gathering, with explorers from North America and Europe, going in age from mid-20s to mid-70s. Be that as it may, there were likewise Jordanians here – generally youthful expert men and ladies who’d grasped this way to investigate the amazingly shifted nation on their doorstep.
Reluctantly leaving our untainted excursion spot we strolled along Wadi al-Fayed (“Wadi of the Floods”) under precipices of bronze sprinkled with delicious green, thick with oleander and dragonflies. We were following a Nabatean shake cut water channel – our first trace of this awesome civilisation whose capital was Petra. For most guests, Petra is the celebrated Treasury and adjacent landmarks, however at its pinnacle the city spread over nearly 400 square miles.
After a hot and fatigued 11 miles of strolling, we touched base at our campground for the night where we watched the sun plunge behind the mountain crests and shared a dinner of chicken and rice seasoned with cardamom. The post-prandial excitement was given by our aides, who treated us to an extemporaneous tune and-move routine around the pit fire. Depleted, I slipped off right on time to my tent. With no light contamination, the unmistakable betray skies were singed with stars, and with the practically scriptural sound of panpipes drifting over from the fire, rest came rapidly.
Another hot day was conjecture so we ascended before first light indeed. When we met for a delightful Jordanian breakfast of omelet, flatbread, hummus, nectar and yogurt the sun had risen and a pink gleam suffused the scene. By six we were progressing afresh. Our walk spread out in front of us: ochre slopes stippled with juniper – the intense, stringy tree that becomes just a large portion of an inch a year and was utilized by the Nabateans to fortify their structures against quakes.
Our way took after mountain forms made up of layers of shake reshaped to practically opposite points by the gigantic structural powers of the Great Rift Valley. The main sounds were the griffon vultures spiraling above, goat ringers skimming up from the valley beneath and the upbeat babble of my kindred walkers. There was veritable kinship as we upheld each other through the all the more difficult ascensions, shared biographies and looked at rankles amid rest stops.