On Sunday we crossed the Suez Canal then turned south driving along the Suez Canal and then the Gulf of Suez then turned east to head inland into the moutains of Sinai to visit the Village of St Katherine's. Between our turn inland and the Village we came across a toru bus broken down in the middle of nowhere with six German tourist on board, with seven open seats in our private mini-bus, we invited them and their tour guide to join us to the hotel. As they loaded into our bus, Mary and I wandered around the desert looking for rocks to take home to our kids, keeping in mind we need to carry these across Egypt and on the plane we had to be very selective on what we decided to keep (very hard choices). We arrived at hotewl in time for dinner, then time to maybe catch 4-hours of sleep before beginning our climb to top of Mt Sinai to watch the sunrise, we never fell asleep! We arrived at base of Mt Sinai along with about ten large buses of tourist from many different areas. We met our Bedouin guide, his name is Musa, whcih translates to
Moses, he will guide us up the 2.1 mile trek to the top of the mountain, we started up at 1:15 am. The walk up is 2/3 of the way using a switchback camel path, the last section is 730 steps to the peak. The walk up in shear darkness is only broken by the light of the flashlights carried by those making the trek up. The night sky here is so full of stars, we could view the milky way as we have never seen and an occassional shooting star. The walk up takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours depending on how many times you need to take a break and how long you try to break as our 14 year old Bedouin guide encourages us to move on. We reach the 2/3 camel stop, we break briefly then begin the climb of the 730 steps to the peak, steps are what they refer to as boulder of varying sizes piled on the path. With just the light from our small flashlight we could just make out the next boulder to step up onto and the mountain on either our left or right, we could not see what on
the opposite side, wth Musa saying keep to the mountain side. 3:45 am, we arrive at the rest stop just below the peak in total darkness. We will rest here for a while before making the last 3 minutes climb to the peak. It is colder here and after sweating on the climb, we start to feel the cold and our guide warns us that at the peak it is much colder so we rent a blanket for 20 Egyption pounds ($1.60). Musa asks if we will take the camel pathway down of the 3200 Steps of Repentance, we choose the camel path as my knees could not take that many steps and some steps are 1 meter high. Musa says, "you are an old man too hard for you, your wife, she fine she be able to take the steps". At about 4:30 am we make the final climb to the peak and pick out our spot to sit and wait for sunrise, people continue to arrive and fill in around us. At 4:55 the sun begins to appear and as it slowly rises each few minutes it lights up another mountain, truely undescribable. We walk around the top
viewing the Coptic Church and Mosque on the peak, then begin our walk down at about 5:30. The walk down is much easier and we make it back in two hours. We return tot he hotel to shower and eat breakfast then return to tour the monestery.
We enter St Catherine's Monestery walls and see Moses well, St Catherine's Church built in 337 AD, the museum with icons dating back to 6th century, and the burning bush.
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