Our first few days in the desert we went through the small Makhtesh and along the edge of the big Makhtesh (the small and big craters)! Both are jaw dropping, ego shrinking sights. The cliffs, rocks, canyons and colors are mind blowing. I wish you could see them yourself.
The small crater was so special and spectacular I didn’t want to leave him (in Hebrew craters are he). As I mentioned above each of the craters are called Makhtesh; a type of crater unique to the Negev of Israel and Sinai peninsula of Egypt. Makhtesh aren’t formed by an impact or by volcanic activity, it’s a little less dramatic but not less impressive, they’re formed by years of erosion. According to Wikipedia some of the rock that became exposed in the craters is up to 200 million years old!
The trail went down into, across and out of the small crater. Inside the crater the rocks and soil are incredibly diverse in color and texture. I felt like we were exploring a different planet!
Between the craters is a days walk through a long canyon. To get out of the canyon the trail goes up a steep rock wall. As we ate lunch before the climb we could hear groups yelling at each other up on the ascent. People were getting hysterical. There’s a ladder about halfway up that terrifies people. One group going down stopped atop the latter and turned back. Ram and I had an okay time doing the climb. The latter wasn’t straight up, it was at an angle so it wasn’t as scary as I thought it might be. It was still very dangerous.
The day of the big crater was a rough day for me. It’s known for being the hardest day on the INT. It’s a section called the Carbolet (Cocks Comb) because it’s like walking along a roosters comb, up and down, up and down ALL day. The terrain is extremely steep and rocky. If you slip once you could fall to your death; I’m not over exaggerating. I was slow. I was nervous about where I was stepping. Our pace was about a mile an hour…
I was frustrated by how long it was taking me. To add to it, Ram wasn’t having a hard time at all and was constantly waiting for me. I felt like such a failure. He wanted to do 30 km but by lunch we hadn’t even done 10! 10 km is only about 6 miles.
Around 2pm we reached the exit of the Carbolet, a deep canyon carved out of the crater walls. I thought we’d done technical and serious climbs/descends… they were NOTHING compared to this. Nothing. It was terrifying. A couple and there son were hiking behind us (doing a day hike) and the wife was hysterical the whole climb out. It was a mix of ascends and descends. This trail has proven to be the hardest and most technical trail I’ve done. During our way out, my mind couldn’t contain the shock of what was around us. I began to feel like I’d stepped through the looking glass. I could hardly tell which way was up or which way was down. My mind got exhausted trying to gauge the depths of all that was around us. The canyon was surreal.
The family behind us got out safely. We were impressed! The boy was probably about 10? We walked together to a near campsite where they were catching a ride. Before they left they gave us water, vegetables, meat balls and desserts! It was a miracle especially for being in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of the week!
The small crater
Looking back at the small crater
Getting out of the big crater
The black dot in the below pic is a person