While all of you were likely enjoying a turkey feast for Thanksgiving, I ate grilled chicken and kushari in the Sinai. The next morning, we awoke at 1:30am (!) to begin our hike up Mt. Sinai so that we could reach the summit by sunrise. For those who know your bible lore, Mt. Sinai is where god revealed the ten commandments to Moses. The mountain is a craggy granite peak 7500 ft high and on the summit is a both a small Christian and Muslim church (living in perfect harmony), as well as a cave where god sheltered Moses according to bible verse.
Although I expected a steeper, more arduous ascent, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was much easier than I expected. The path that leads to the summit is a gradual switchback and isn’t terribly steep. The most difficult part is the last leg, which is made up of over 750 steep granite “steps.” I use the word loosely as it implies some evenness and order and there is only a little of that. Perhaps they were steps in the truest sense at one time, but now they are a smattering of craggy, uneven granite blocks that function as steps to the summit. Once we ascended those, we found ourselves early for the sunrise and commenced to freeze in the cold wind, huddling together for warmth. I actually found myself dreaming of a hot shower and thinking that no sunrise was worth the cold, but I am happy to say that I was wrong. As dawn began to make its slow appearance, the black star-filled sky was gradually replaced by light gray, revealing the distant mountains that looked like torn paper silhouettes of black, gray, and purple layered upon each other. Then, a strip of rosy pink appeared on the horizon. The sky changed to varying and deeper shades of red before the sun finally peeked over a distant mountain, a sliver of flaming orange, making it appear as though the mountain was a volcano that had just bubbled over with lava.
The gradual transformation of deepest night to dawning day was a sight to behold. It’s an occurrence that happens each and every day, but I can’t remember the last time that I looked forward to it with such anticipation—or the last time I truly beheld its beauty, which was enhanced by the knowledge that I stood upon the sacred mountain where Moses received his divine revelation.
After the Sinai we return to the madness of Cairo for a few days before heading to Aqaba, Jordan.