The caressing rays of the sun's shiny disk, which reclaimed its rightful zenith, at the crystal clear bluish heavens, finally started drying-up the soaked torrent land, while also radiating blessed warmth, onto its fumbled living creatures.
That Friday was a perfect first occasion, following 3 rain-stormy days, to explore the unique southern terrain of the Sedom Mountain and Nahal Hemar.
Driving down South toward the Dead Sea, the densely populated belt, forested landscape, and the plumed carpeted lush green agriculture countryside, began vanishing, together with the shifting enchanting shapes of grey cloud- like siluttes, formed by the migrating flocks of birds.
The seam-line between the rugged desolated brown-yellowish rocky landscape of the Judea desert, so distinctively identified by the horizontal layers of its rock's morphology, in contrast to the dramatically tilted layout more characteristic of the Negev height, became more noticeable, driving further south.
White ramps of mined salt, aggregated at marked pools, on both the Israeli and the Jordain's sides, as well as the strikingly reddish Moav/Edom skyline's mountain across, were a spectacular scenic contrast to the bluish tranquility
of the Dead Sea.
2 speedy driving hours, away from the urban Tel-Aviv, united us with other 10 private cars, arriving from all around the country, to co-tour with our favorite expert guide : Seffi Ben-Joseph, www.seffibenjoseph.co.il 054 678 8408
Heading up toward Sedom Mountain, the unexpected expectancy occurred...
Our car caravan spear-headed by Sefi, got stranded, right behind 4x4 jeeps' convoy, of earlier arrival, all ended dug in and deeply stuck in the clay-ish muddy unpaved narrow elevation.
The unusual elongated murky rainwater pools, or more like small lakes, which were formed temporarily due to the clay earth's dis- permeability, parallel to the Dead Sea, and off both sides of paved road 90, could have predicted the encountered challenge....
As not to waste precious touring time, an instant decision to U - turn was taken by our wise guide, and the intention to scout "Sedom Mountain" and "Nahal -Creek" of Perazim, as originally planned for the day, was aborted, and plan
B was put in motion.
Sedom Mountain - Part of Judea Desert Nature Reserve.
The mountain which we didn't tour, but only took a splendid panoramic view at, is 8 km long, 5 km wide, and it rises 220m high above and along the southwestern part of the Dead Sea water level,(170 m below world mean sea level).
This white salt mountain's soil, which contains 80% salt, is not visible,as It is capped by a layer of congregated gray limestone, clay and silt being dragged along, when squeezed up, from the salt valley floor, at 3000m depth, beneath the sea water level.
Mount Sodom began its rise hundreds of thousands of years ago and continues to grow taller at a rate of 3.5 mm a year.
Movements of the African rift system, daily small tectonic vibrations, along with pressure generated by the slow accumulation of earth and rock, presses down on the conglomerated elastic salt layers trapped at the bottom of the enclosed Dead sea depression. The layers can only surface up squeezed against and along the sides of the bordering steep rift's walls.
(the sediments was once part of the Lisan Formation deposited in Lake Lisan - the precursor of the Dead Sea during the late Pleistocene),
The mountain's unique landscape is made of deep creeks, and special rock formations. Whether also contributed to some portions being separated, creating pillars, one which is best known as "Lot's wife", in reference to the Biblical account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
A 5,5 km dry deep creek/canyon in southern Judea desert in Amiaz plains, runs north of Sedom mountain after joining Splendor - Zohar and Clay -Hiemar Creeks, and flows into the Dead Sea.
The white-flower like powder Cave is one of its attractions -
Nahal Hemar - נַחַל חֵמָר
Nahal Hemar (Creek) toward its direction, Sefi re-routed our convoy,
and which seemed to be more access-friendly, was plan B of the day.
This southern of all other Judean Desert's dry creeks, flows for 37km to
Zohar - Splendor Valley, and also ends in the Dead Sea .
The canyon part's depth is 300m and its 10 km length, is the longest of all other Judea Desert creeks.
2 waterfalls, a variety of desert vegetation, small wildlife species, and some asphalt wells, sprout (and mined) at the bottom of canyon's walls, were most of what was expected when scouting the creek,
During the mandate era, prior to Israel State's creation, the British were
very hopeful to find, relying on some biblical quotations, not only salt, but also other minerals ( iron, copper manganese) and oil, so had invested funds in searching, mining and drilling, as well as in paving accessible roads at the heart of this desolate region, which yielded very little.
The unpaved paths, on which we tracked, are the reminders of those British efforts.
The creek also got its fame due to the prehistoric 8x4 Cave Hemar.
This pre-historic important cave was discovered in 1983 having 4 archaeological layers with unique findings from about 7 -10 BCE
The treasures consisted of lime and wooden artifacts, fragments of rope baskets and plaster assemblages, beads statue fragments , fabrics, nets, wooden arrowheads, bone and flint utensils including a sickle and weaving spatula, and decorated human skulls also neolithic ceremonial masks.
We have not visited the cave which is closed to the public, nor encountered besides lizards and droves of flies, any other wildlife..
However, during the 6 strenuous but fun hours of tracking along Hemar ridge and crossing the beautiful creek's bottom, which consists of most impressive layers and pinkish and white rocks stacked up to form a tall canyon, we did stumbled upon marvelous water puddles, untypical shiny green desert vegetation, and strands of asphalt -Tar sprouting from the canyon's walls
But most we battled endless rocks and stones, of all size and shape, upon which we occasionally slipped on, tripped over, or flatly fell on.. and which left
few blisters, on my feet which were not that well protected and not well trained for such a track that day..
Yoni and Daniella- (resting) delightful friends we recently encountered
who are most experienced travelers and "Metivai Lechet" - great trackers., joined us and Sefi's Tours for the first time. Along with our guide, their presence made the long challenging tracking hours, so much more interesting and enjoyable.
A "Splendor "in the Desert
The region visited is within a geographical area named Zohar - Splendor.
Though it is mind-boggling why this illusionary name was given to this arid desolated area, and there are speculations alluding to the legend about Arabic "El Zohara Bedouin heroine", who chased away her tribe's enemies, the Zohar name is attached to many entities in the vicinity:
There is : Ma-aleh Zohar (Zohar Elevation), Nahal Zohar (creek), Shefech Zohar (Estuary( Har Zohar (mountain), Neveh Zohar (oasis), Meizv Zohar,
My personal unexpected splendor` during this tour was encountering Noa.
A captivating beaming broad smile on this most pleasant face, that greeted us at the Neveh Zohar's meeting point, triggered a vague irritating memory echo
in the perforated chambers of my mind.
3 hours into our marching, I finally approached the girls with the broad smile and asked for her name.
Introducing myself, her reply to my further questioning "Are you Noa from Hedera" was back with the question "Are you Lili from Haifa"
And then, as the Hebrew expression best illustrates "the Token Fell" and we realized that our encountering and friendship was formed and sadly disrupted about 50 years ago, at the IDF army boot-camp service...
Amazingly, we both managed to recall and be recognized by each other, despite the passing by of so many years, since our youthful era.
The reunion encounter brought much joy to us both
Noa even unearthed and sent me an old photo, taken at the time of her, me and her school sweetheart boyfriend, she was dating then, and who apparently was upgraded to a husband status eventually, with whom she shares her life
That was a fabulous ending to a great tracking day.
The END and HAPPY CIVIL YEAR to All