Day 16: Gevanim Night Camp to Mitzpe Ramon
Day 16, March 15: Another hard day. Biggest cuss of a climb at end up to Mitzpe Ramon. Plus 2 big climbs before that. Easy day tomorrow then harder one - then long weekend in Sde Boker. Pack feeling lighter - not sure if over hump or because much food came out of it. Sleeping in trail angel basement.
Hiking through Makhtesh Ramon was great. A makhtesh is translated as a "crater" but they're not proper craters; they were formed by movements of the earth's crust and erosion rather than by meteors. There are three in the Israeli Negev - Large, Small, and Ramon, though Ramon is actually the largest (it was discovered after the Large Makhtesh). Ramon is named after the Romans who traveled along the spice-trading route through it. The northern edge is a nearly sheer cliff face several hundred meters high, atop which Mitzpe Ramon (lit. "Ramon Lookout") is perched. The climb up said cliff really beat me up and I actually ran out of water partway up - not a good experience.
On this day, I surprisingly don't mention it in my journal, but the group officially decided to split into religious people and secular ones/gentiles. This was a huge relief. The reason was practical - the religious people's pace (dictated by Shabbats, plus the pre-Purim fasting they were doing) was too slow and the rest of us had timelines according to which we wanted to finish the trail.
Part 1: The Negev >