Day 9: Shaharut to Tsihor Junction

Day 9: Shaharut to Tsihor Junction

Day 9, March 8: Arrived Shizafon junction near kibbutz Ne'ot Smadar. Vegetarian restaurant. Foot and knee problems plague the group. Beautiful sand dune and valley but end of day on road - boring.

Everybody in the group but me seemed to be having physical problems at some point or another. I was already in shape from backpacking prior to starting the trail, which helped. Everyone else had something wrong - knee or foot or other joint pains. These are the kinds of things you have to pay attention to, or they'll get worse and stop you from hiking altogether. People in the group kept taking off to go home and rest for a few days, then rejoin us later.

The sand dune here was one of the few places in the Negev that looked like your classic sandy desert instead of lots of rocks. Running down it was a blast - it felt like running on puffs of air.

We ended the day's hike at Shizafon Junction, an intersection in the absolute middle of nowhere, although a kibbutz was nearby - Ne'ot Smadar, the one the girls had been talking about stopping to volunteer at. The next 27km or so of the trail were along a highway, because that stretch of road was surrounded on both sides by huge military areas and there was no way to route the trail around them. These kinds of routes make for pretty miserable hiking, so many people choose to skip that section, as we did - we managed to cram into a van heading north to the next intersection, Tsihor Junction - even deeper in the middle of nowhere. We had split off this morning from the big group, but ended up back with them that night by coincidence. We hiked with them one more day before leaving them for good.

Our small group taking a break for a lunch of tahina, pita, peppers and cucumbers, and tuna. Mine

is the backpack with the wooden stick propping it up. That was my walking stick before I got some

trekking poles.

This was our first day away from the big group, and we ran into another small group of hikers.

Here, we passed some ancient ruins...if I remember right, rocks had been arranged in the

shapes of various animals, possibly as part of some long-forgotten cult ritual.

The landscape here didn't have the sharper contours of the Eilat Mountains or Timna cliffs. Instead,

endless windswept sandy hills rolled off as far as we could see.

Kasui Dune was the excitement for the day amid a fairly monotonous landscape. This one was

even better to run down than the last one we'd passed. I went down twice and would have done

more repetitions, but the difficulty of dragging myself to the top each time ruled that out