Day 0: Before the Trail

The night before the trail was an ordeal, and that after a day-long journey from Nazareth to Eilat. I was meeting my group of 8 people (6 Israelis, a Dutch girl, and me) for the first time, and we had a short window of time to get together, go grocery shopping, and then find our way to where a larger group was that we were hiking with. I got into Eilat around 7 after the spectacular bus ride (through the desert and down the Arava valley as darkness was falling) and met my future hiking partner, Nachshon, who luckily spoke perfect English and was a cool, likeable guy. The two girls we were about to meet turned up really late, which got us wondering if this was going to be a bad sign of things to come. (Spoiler alert: Yup). We somehow managed to get grocery shopping done, and then I set off with the two girls for some farm where the large group was meeting (Nachshon was staying with a friend).

As we arrived in the pitch darkness at some godforsaken intersection on the edge of Eilat, a few houses to one side and raw desert on all others, the realization began to dawn on me that neither one of them had any idea where we were going. We guessed at a direction, began signaling to passing cars, and got a ride which dropped us off at some water-tower type structure, which soon proved farm-free. I began to question my life.

Another hitchhike later, we eventually made it to the correct place, probably close to midnight. Our group of 8 was going to be spending the first week hiking with a large, organized group, which provided a truck for camping gear, water and outhouses at night camps, and delicious hot dinner for 10 shekels. So I wasn't surprised to see hundreds of people sprawled out all over the desert ground, asleep or awake. I sacked out among them and passed out, only to be woken before dawn - also a theme in the coming days.


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