Day 16: Gevanim to Mitzpe Ramon

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 wasn't documented by modern mapmakers until after the Large Makhtesh had been named). 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.

To my horror, I've just realized that I apparently took no pictures from this day through the next two, until we arrived at Midreshet Ben-Gurion! I don't know what was going on. It could also be that none of them turned out good. I'm sure there was scenery worth photographing.

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